DHS to use MetaCarta

Homeland Security Department officials will use an application that mines data for geographic references that can be depicted on a map.

Officials at the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate recently signed a one-year license to use a geographic information system application developed by MetaCarta, which is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.

Randy Ridley, the company’s vice president and general manager for federal systems, said several software applications provide similar functions but none can bridge the gap between so-called unstructured content and digital mapping. About 90 percent of data within an organization is unstructured, such as e-mail messages, reports, interviews and other documents.

"I say it’s true across DHS generally and true across the law enforcement community," he said. "The critical figure is anywhere from 70 [percent] to 80 percent of all the data that is unstructured or structured has implicit geographic references: place, name, street address, latitude and longitude."

He said the application, which is also used in the intelligence community as well as the Defense Department, can fuse data from multiple databases. For example, if there were three reports about suspected individuals going to a flight training center in the same place, the application would be able to fuse that information and depict it on a map, he said.

"We can take all the different data, whatever the source, and through the common lens of geography, fuse this picture together," Ridley said.

He said he did not know how the directorate would use the product, adding that he is not authorized to say how much the department paid for the license.

The company also recently provided the application to Arizona authorities, who will test it in their new intelligence fusion center, called the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, for 90 days.

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