Starlight paints info constellation

Battelle

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The Starlight Information Visualization System gives federal employees a new way to look at data.

Developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is managed by Battelle Memorial Institute, Starlight provides a computerized visual presentation of information after identifying correlations in a database. The program is designed for use as an information-modeling tool to help identify trends and relationships among large amounts of data. Data is clustered into groups and labeled by colors and shapes, and can be integrated with photos and electronic mapping.

Battelle is a nonprofit research and development firm headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

Starlight's current version can handle up to 60,000 to 70,000 records simultaneously, according to Battelle statistics.

Company officials say Starlight makes analysis of information quicker and easier to use. The product, they said, can be employed as a real-time aid in the decision-making process.

"It's the ability to visually show a person information that they're used to seeing in report form," said Battelle technology specialist Brian Kritzstein.

The federal government is Starlight's biggest customer. A few hundred programs have been deployed, Kritzstein said.

This morning, Battelle officials pointed to numerous applications for use in defense and homeland security. Models of the program have been developed for nondefense-oriented agencies, such as NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration, he said.

Starlight finds correlations in data and produces series of cross-matched data clusters by searching through the wording of each entry and grouping data according to key words and phrases. That lets the program decipher unstructured data, such as written descriptions of incidents in paragraph form, and present them on-screen in a series of 3-D spheres, which are specific to data sets by shapes and colors.

Operating in a Microsoft Corp. Windows format, the program also offers a variety of spreadsheet applications in order to print hard copies of data and trends represented.

Starlight has been in development for eight years, with the first version released in 1997. According to Kritzstein, Battelle will release an updated version in either March or April of next year.

The next version will be able to handle a larger number of records and give the user the option of purging the data system to eliminate old, unhelpful information.

Among Battelle's recent developments are the acoustic inspection device, which can identify liquids in a sealed container; the Dual-Use Analyzer, which is used to identify metals; and the HydroSuppressor Bomb Blast Suppression System, which suppresses bomb blast effects.

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