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Defense agency fights IEDs with help of advanced data analysis

The US Department of Defense has a new ally in the fight against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). An advanced data analysis solution from SAS and Detica is in use by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) to uncover and target the operational, financial and social networks involved in IED deployment.

JIEDDO’s mission is to lead, advocate and coordinate efforts to defeat IEDs as weapons of strategic influence; provide field commanders intelligence; and reduce casualties among both military forces and civilian populations. To help achieve those goals, the organization needed powerful analytics to gain critical, data driven insight into the structure, character, interactions and methods associated with the operational networks involved in the deployment of IEDs.

According to the Department of Defense, IEDs have caused nearly half of all casualties in Iraq and nearly 30 percent of those in Afghanistan since the start of combat operations. The insurgents who place IEDs are often supported by organized networks that finance their operations, create the devices and plan and execute attacks. The solution from SAS and Detica analyzes data from myriad sources to identify and analyze the linkages between individuals and groups that may indicate a support network. Similar technology is used to fight fraud in government agencies and commercial businesses in the UK and the US.

“SAS and Detica have worked closely with JIEDDO to create a solution that will work toward helping our armed forces fight back against the most effective weapon in the insurgent arsenal,” said Tom Mazich, SAS Vice President of Government Operations.

Before the solution could be deployed, JIEDDO had to address various data challenges. It received data from multiple sources in theater and from DOD and other US government agencies. Much of the data was not integrated or coordinated with data developed by other units or agencies, and much of it remained unstructured or lacked a common format or vocabulary. Also, data quality was problematic because of the amount that is manually keyed or handwritten, the lack of standard formats and templates, and the variety of sources.

Detica and SAS combined to provide an analytical solution that addresses the challenges of data access, integration, quality and management. JIEDDO is able to integrate existing data from all relevant sources, and with advanced analytics and reporting capabilities, provide exploitable information to field commanders.

The JIEDDO solution uses several tools, including data and text analysis, predictive modeling and optimization. Analysts and other end users receive detailed intelligence developed using data driven investigative techniques and link analysis based on social network theory. While the concepts are leading edge, it is a proven technical solution currently running in both government agencies and commercial businesses in the UK and the US.

Analysts are provided with client tools and customizable report creation and delivery capabilities that deliver intelligence in the most appropriate format for decision makers and other end users. The solution is also customizable to be implemented at all levels of security classification.