US ATTACK: Data integration needed to track terrorists

A lack of technology needed to analyze and integrate data from disparate sources is proving to be an early answer to people asking how the U.S. disaster could have occurred, security experts admit.

As New York and Washington continue to clear the rubble from this week's terrorist attack, federal officials are now investigating the future use of business intelligence and EAI (enterprise application integration) technologies.

Former CIA investigator and analyst Stanley Bedlington said that the way to avoid future attacks is to coordinate the activities of the federal, state, and local governments.

"The basic problem is communications and coordination," Bedlington said.

According to published reports, two of the suspected hijackers not only boarded the plane using their own names but were on the "watch list" of the Department of Immigration and Naturalization (INS). However, there is neither a single database nor EAI-type technology in place that would alert the airlines, for example, of a potentially dangerous passenger as he or she checks in at the airport.

Currently, information about dangerous individuals is stored in some type of watch list in dozens of different database from the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, INS, plus local and state agencies.

The problem, experts said, is actually getting at that data and being able to analyze it appropriately, which requires not only business intelligence software, but also application integration.

"[Using business intelligence in a security scenario] is something people talk a lot about. They're trying to have much closer monitoring and alerts, so if there is a problem, then can act on it faster," said Patrick Morrissey, director of San Jose, California-based business intelligence vendor Business Objects SA.

One of the obvious problems is that many institutions and government agencies tracking criminal activity are not integrating their data, notes the CEO of SeeBeyond Technology Corp., Jim Demetriades. Monrovia, California-based SeeBeyond designs and sells real-time data integration software.

Local, state, and federal law enforcement systems must hook their systems into both international law enforcement and the airport database systems around the world, he said.

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