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FBI searches for crucial details

To fill in any gaps in its ability to fight terrorism, the FBI has added a search and categorization platform to its cache of information technology. The agency hopes that the new system will help it cut through enormous amounts of intelligence data to identify details that could help agents respond to potential homeland security threats.

After the events of Sept. 11, the FBI launched a sophisticated Secure Collaborative Operational Prototype Environment with a counter-terrorism and intelligence data repository. RetrievalWare from Convera has been chosen to work with other tools to help FBI analysts identify critical pieces of intelligence within the massive repository.

The new Intelligence Data Warehouse system will provide a Web-based, collaborative environment for hundreds of agents to eventually analyze over 1 billion text, video, audio and image files. With the new system, FBI agents can compare and contrast relevant information and find missing links. They also can search authorized information in other agency databases, in addition to the FBI's own repository.

According to a news release from Convera, specific RetrievalWare features sought by the FBI include:

  • Dynamic classification—Agents can define personalized criteria for information of interest and be notified when relevant information enters the data warehouse.
  • Language breadth—The software can search in nearly 50 languages, and cross-lingual cartridges allow agents to ask a question in one language and receive the answer in another.
  • Security—The system offers document-level, cross-repository and cross-platform security.
  • Multimedia search—Agents can search surveillance videotapes, forensic reports, automated case files, credit card transactions, terrorist watch lists, wiretaps, bank records and more.
  • Industry-specific taxonomies—The FBI has its own "language" for operations worldwide, and the system's taxonomy and semantic network cartridges help ensure that thousands of FBI mission-specific concepts and terms are used to optimize search.

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