DHS funds data center

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The Homeland Security Department has created a center to develop new methods and tools that would manage, analyze and graphically represent vast and diverse amounts of data to discover and predict potential terrorist activities.

The Energy Department's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), located in Richland, Wash., will receive $2.5 million this year for the new National Visual Analytics Center (NVAC) that will work on projects related to analyzing data that includes text, measurements, images and video. It's expected that NVAC will establish four or five regional visual analytics centers next year as funding becomes available.

NVAC's core responsibilities include research and development, education, technology evaluation and implementation and integration and coordination of research programs across government agencies. It will not collect data but develop tools for new ways to evaluate information currently being used by counter-terrorism analysts. It will also work with university researchers to develop future visual analytics technology.

"Visual analytics are valuable because the tool helps to detect the expected, and discover the unexpected," Jim Thomas, PNNL's senior chief scientist for information technologies who will serve as NVAC director, said in a press release.

"Visual analytics combines the art of human intuition and the science of mathematical deduction to perceive patterns and derive knowledge and insight from them," he continued. "With our success in developing and delivering new technologies, we are paving the way for fundamentally new tools to deal with the huge digital libraries of the future, whether for terrorist threat detection or new interactions with potentially life-saving drugs."

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