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Identity Resolution Daily Links 2010-02-23

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

By the Infoglide Team

WFAA.com: What is Texas doing to prevent terrorism?

“The Dallas police has a high tech fusion center that monitors potential threats in Dallas. They helped foil the plot when a man was planning on blowing up the Bank of America building… Four years ago, Dallas Police put alert on Kimberly Al-Homsi because she was scouting runways at Love Field. On Saturday, she was arrested allegedly with pipe bombs in her car.”

Liliendahl on Data Quality: Candidate Selection in Deduplication

“When a recruiter and/or a hiring manager finds someone for a job position it is basically done by getting in a number of candidates and then choose the best fit among them. This of course don’t make up for, that there may be someone better fit among all those people that were not among the candidates. We have the same problem in data matching when we are deduplicating, consolidating or matching for other purposes.”

Health Data Management: New Obama Health Plan Has I.T. Angles

“Proposals in Obama’s new proposal with a strong I.T. flavor include… Adopt real-time analysis of claims and payments data to identify waste, fraud and abuse in public health programs… Establish a CMS/IRS data-matching program to match information on entities that have evaded filing taxes against provider billing data to better detect fraudulent providers.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2010-02-20

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

[Post from Infoglide] Identity Resolution Still On the Rise

“We’ve noted several times over the past couple of years how the market visibility of entity resolution has been evolving. Now the consolidation of the master data management (MDM) market is causing even more conjecture about the crucial role of this technology.”

SIGNAL ONLINE: Good Guys Share, Bad Guys Lose

“Lindsey adds that personnel on Joint Terrorism Task Forces, in fusion centers or in other counterterrorism-related positions could benefit from the system by accessing the more complete data source and incorporating information found there into their own analyses and evaluations. ‘We’re out there for the crime fighters, but we’re also out there to prevent terrorism activities,’ he states.”

Claims Magazine: Fraud Triage Programs 

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that the total cost of insurance fraud (excluding health care) exceeds $40 billion per year. That means insurance fraud costs the average U.S. family between $400 and $700 annually in the form of increased premiums. In California alone, the Department of Insurance (CDOI) identified the potential loss from fraud in the 2007/2008 fiscal year at $1.2 billion, according to the 2008 Annual Report of the Insurance Commissioner.”

FoxNews.com: Flight Diverted to Florida Over Passenger’s Mistaken Identity

“Some airlines already have moved to a new identification program, called Secure Flight. All domestic carriers are expected to move to the new program by March. The government system will include more details about the passenger in question, including the passenger’s sex, birth date and full name as it appears on a government identification document.”

Precision Document Imaging: What is EMR?

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides significant cash incentives to physicians who implement electronic health records. However, in order to qualify for these incentives the physician must not only have the proper software but must engage in “meaningful use” of the software. The government plans to publish the criteria for meaningful use in February 2010. ARRA incentive reimbursement to physicians will begin in 2011.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2010-01-29

Friday, January 29th, 2010

[Post from Infoglide] Master Data Movement

“I read with interest yesterday’s article at SeekingAlpha which discusses rumors swirling around the MDM software industry.  According to the article, sources suggest that two deals are very near completion.  The first of those rumored transactions would see Informatica picking up MDM provider Siperian.  On the heels of their acquisitions of Identity Systems and AddressDoctor, the Siperian purchase could not be totally unexpected – but would most certainly create some ripple effect worth watching.”

[Post from Infoglide] Connecting the Dots: We May Be Closer Than We Think

“Paul Rosenzweig, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security, recently posted an intriguing piece on Harvard National Security Journal about connecting the dots regarding the Christmas Bomber. He makes a strong case that a decision to stop research on data analytic tools in 2003 has contributed to the problem analysts face today in making sense of the massive and manifold data sources they sift through.”

Forrester Blog: Introducing The MDM Market’s Newest 800lb Gorilla: Informatica Acquires Siperian!

“In the short term, I’m sure Informatica will be more than happy to continue to collect revenue from Oracle while keeping this partnership alive, but don’t expect future negotiated contracted terms to remain very reasonable as Informatica gains traction with its MDM strategy. No matter how often Oracle says how happy they are to maintain a friendly state of co-opetition with strategic partners, I don’t anticipate they will want to run the risk of a competitor pulling the rug out from under its aggressive MDM strategy.”

News8Austin: Community forum poses questions about Fusion Center

“According to department officials, sharing information with neighboring jurisdictions as well as state and federal agencies ensures that crime history and other information is shared outside the city limits. The department said it the center will be one that ‘analyzes information in order to best detect, respond and hopefully prevent criminal and terrorist activity — as well as other public safety hazards.’”

Ramon Chen: Informatica + Siperian Acquisition = Premier MDM Platform

“As expected, Informatica has announced that it has acquired Siperian (disclosure, my former company) for $130M… If predictions are correct, this will be a relative ‘bargain’ when compared with the upcoming IBM and Initiate Systems tie up which is expected to be 4 to 5x Initiate’s $90M annual revenues.”

Connecting the Dots: We May Be Closer Than We Think

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

By Robert Barker, Infoglide Senior VP & Chief Marketing Officer

Paul Rosenzweig, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security, recently posted an intriguing piece on Harvard National Security Journal about connecting the dots regarding the Christmas Bomber. He makes a strong case that a decision to stop research on data analytic tools in 2003 has contributed to the problem analysts face today in making sense of the massive and manifold data sources they sift through.

Initiating more research would clearly add to the tools that analysts have at their disposal. At the same time, applying existing entity resolution software technology to more data sources could add significant firepower and help address the data challenge.

Let’s examine four issues Mr. Rosenzweig raised and evaluate the current state of entity resolution technology to address each issue:

1.  Scalability

“This is a veritable flood of data.  In hindsight, of course, it is very easy to see the pieces that connect together to form a picture of Abdulmutallab’s plot.  But those 10 or so bits of information were floating in an ocean of other data—literally millions of different individual entries from thousands of different sources in a host of different databases.”

Existing entity resolution technology scales to handle multiple tens of millions of transactions daily. While the “flood of data” would likely test the limits of existing systems, it’s not clear that reaching the required scalability is limited by the software or is simply a function of establishing well-founded rules and incorporating the needed amount of hardware capacity.

2.    Real-Time Analysis

“We continue to rely on the intuition of analysts to provide the insight we need.  It is all well and good to say ‘with the NSA intercept about a Nigerian we should have started looking at all Nigerians’ or ‘we should have begun looking at everyone named Umar Farouk,’ but those leaps of insight and anticipation are not routine—they require analysis and consideration.  And that requires time—time to ponder the necessity of making precisely that inquiry. But time is what our analysts don’t have.  At least not enough of it.  Not with the flood of data we are seeing.  They have to prioritize and move certain lines of inquiry to the top of the pile.”

Crucial attributes of entity resolution technology are its ability to (a) process massive amounts of data in real time and (b) make automated decisions that prioritize the importance of each element. Entity resolution will never displace trained analysts, but its ability to sift through millions of pieces of data to produce a prioritized list of the most important potential connections offers the best way to fully exploit analysts’ brainpower and accelerate the process of detecting impending terrorism.

3.    Automated Scoring

“What we lack is not human intuition.  Rather we lack the tools to make human intuition effective and automated.  The head of the NCTC told a rather shocked Senate committee the other day that, in effect, NCTC analysts don’t have a “Google‐like” tool for database inquiries.  They can’t, for example, simply type in ‘Umar Farouk’ and pull up all the pages with links to that name.”

While a “Google-like” tool isn’t currently being used, the components needed to build one are available. By connecting to the appropriate data sources, some of the more powerful entity analytic software can “similarity search” a name across multiple disparate (and even remote) databases, and the software will detect similar attributes of multiple identities, and then combine them to yield a broad picture of an individual’s activities as documented in the data sources.

4.    Multiple Attributes

“But even that wouldn’t be enough—because there would likely still be far too many ‘Umar Farouk’ pages for any analyst to review (especially if instead the name we had was, for example, ‘Omar Abdul’).  What is necessary, as the Markle Foundation has said persistently, is for us to authorize and invest in tools that allow for automated analytics—things like tagged data (so that corrections to information are automatically transmitted for updates), identity resolution techniques (so that ‘Umar’ and ‘Omar’ are both considered), and persistent queries (so that a question that an analyst asked last month about Umar Farouk persists in the databases and is automatically linked to a father’s warning about his son Umar when that comes in three weeks later).”

One untouched topic is the effect of associating other attributes with an identity in addition to names, e.g. phone, SSN, passport, license plate, eye color, DOB). Matching similar names in the absence of other information may not be adequate to raise an alert about an identity, but when other attributes are captured and added, the problem becomes markedly more manageable. “Persisting” an identity is a good suggestion that enables more attributes to be added over time. Growing the data in this fashion will enable the system to trigger when a connection to someone on a watch list is identified.

Entity resolution technology is already sufficient to make an enormous difference today if it were just more broadly applied. While Mr. Rosenzweig is correct in his assertion that more research on data analytics tools is needed and can help move the process forward, we should also move rapidly to leverage available technology: entity resolution.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2010-01-11

Monday, January 11th, 2010

[Post from Infoglide] Actionable Identity Intelligence from Identity Resolution

“The recent ‘Christmas Bomber’ incident incited many posts about applying technology to address the gaps that allowed it to happen. For example, David Loshin wrote about a piece for BeyeNETWORK about a ‘master terrorist system’ while Lawrence Dubov suggested improving the watch list process using entity resolution. While technology is a critical component of any solution, some specific issues about the technology are important to understand.”

[Post from Infoglide] Entity Resolution Cloud Rising in 2010

A recent Information Week article referenced Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s views on the future of IT that were offered during a December 17th analyst call. His remarks hint at the growing importance of cloud computing as a key driver in 2010. Writer Bob Evans mentioned that ‘Ellison also quite casually wove the terms ‘private clouds’ and ‘cloud computing’ into his strategic overview without lampooning them, which was a big step forward even though Ellison’s discomfort with the term is shared by IBM CEO Sam Palmisano and Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd.’”

Business Computing World: Trends In Master Data Management

[Philip Howard] “One of the outcomes of the recession has been that a lot of companies have cut back on long-term projects, especially where ROI may not be clear. And talking to various people it is clear that one of the areas so hit has been large hub-based MDM (Master Data Management) projects. That is because these typically take 18 months to 2 years to implement, require a lot of investment in time and money, and the benefits are a long way in the future.”

Chicago Security: What is a Fusion Intelligence Analyst?

“These analysts are responsible for providing support to decision makers by fusing information from local and federal law enforcement criminal databases with national-level intelligence from the Department of Homeland Security, for example, to create relevant intelligence products (finished reports about salient issues) to leaders (also known as “intelligence customers”) at all levels of government.”

Initiate Blog: Entity Resolution to Build a Better “Watch List”

“We should not be afraid to create more data sources and integrate more information. The fear is we run the risk of missing the useful information in a sea of worthless data. Entity resolution technology can make sense of all that information and resolve identities and relationships between them.”

Actionable Identity Intelligence from Identity Resolution

Friday, January 8th, 2010

By Brian Calvert, Infoglide Senior Software Architect

The recent “Christmas Bomber” incident incited many posts about applying technology to address the gaps that allowed it to happen. For example, David Loshin wrote about a piece for BeyeNETWORK about a “master terrorist system” while Lawrence Dubov suggested improving the watch list process using entity resolution. While technology is a critical component of any solution, some specific issues about the technology are important to understand.

In an address this week, President Obama outlined the shortcomings in people, processes, and technologies that gave the now infamous Christmas Bomber the opportunity to take down a Detroit-bound flight.

President Obama identified three major problem areas:

It’s now clear that shortcomings occurred in three broad and compounding ways. First, although our intelligence community had learned a great deal about the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen called al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — that we knew that they sought to strike the United States, and that they were recruiting operatives to do so — the intelligence community did not aggressively follow up on and prioritize particular streams of intelligence related to a possible attack against the homeland.

Second, this contributed to a larger failure of analysis — a failure to connect the dots of intelligence that existed across our intelligence community, and which together could have revealed that Abdulmutallab was planning an attack.

Third, this in turn fed into shortcomings in the watch-listing system which resulted in this person not being placed on the no-fly list; thereby allowing him to board that plane in Amsterdam for Detroit.

CNN highlighted one additional failing that’s relevant to the topic of Identity Resolution (my emphasis):

A timeline provided by the State Department officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, showed that an initial check of the suspect based on his father’s information failed to disclose he had a multiple-entry U.S. visa. The reason was that AbdulMutallab’s name was misspelled. “That search did not come back positive,” said one official, who called it a quick search without using multiple variants of spelling.

What are the specific technology issues?

While the details of the technologies used by the State Department are not identified, the story is typically the same for government and industry. Simple equivalency lookups are not enough. “John Kennedy” will not match “Jhon Kennedy” with standard database lookups. Furthermore, some technologies rely on strategies that actually destroy the forensic integrity of the data. They force it into pre-existing molds in a variety of ways to perform similarity matching. We’ve addressed the many challenges to matching names in this blog in the past, especially in “Playing the Name Game with Terrorist Watch Lists and Shoplifter Databases”.

Indexing is one approach that can fail. It tries to turn common names and known variations and nicknames into identical easily matched tokens. So John, Jack, and Johnny might all translate to “F12391″, facilitating a quick match. But what happens when John’s name — like AbdulMutallab’s — is misspelled? “Jhon” will fail to be matched to the common code and, thus, the match will quickly fail. Encoding is another common example that we addressed. Algorithms like “soundex” attempt to translate words into a fuzzy phonetic equivalent. But the promise of these algorithms falls short, especially when they encounter misspellings, nicknames, and cultural variations.

So while merging all information into a common view or improving watchlist management might be part of the solution, they will still fail if the technology used to merge or search is not up to the task.

Not all identity resolution technologies are the same. Ours can be configured using a number of strategies to fit particular customer performance requirements, sensitivity to false positives or false negatives, and Similarity Search behaviors, including specialized name algorithms that catch misspellings, nicknames, and ordering variations.

Although the consequences are grimmer in homeland security situations, the challenges are the same for financial, healthcare, gaming, state and local government, and marketing applications. While it remains to be seen what improvements the US government will apply to the people, processes, and technology used to secure the country, it’s easy to see that simple misspellings need not break the system or, for that matter, any other system.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-01-05

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

By the Infoglide Team

Center for Advanced Public Safety: SHARE & PUSH

“While SHARE is strictly for communications between law enforcement and the state’s Fusion Center, a companion portal, called the Portal to Uphold a Secure Homeland (PUSH), was also developed as part of the USDHS ITEP project to support private sector security personnel who oversee critical infrastructure.”

HealthNewsDigest.com: Medical/Healthcare Privacy and Fraud Outlook for 2010

“You may not be aware of this, but medical-related fraud and identity theft are growing problems in America. With the exploding cost of healthcare, increasing bureaucratic administrative healthcare systems, and a large, aging Baby Boomer population requiring increased medical care, it would seem that we are entering into a kind of ‘perfect storm’ for medical fraud.”

Aerospace News & Views: Business Travel Association Calls for Greater Attention to Aviation Security

NBTA has long supported risk-management programs that enhance aviation security. TSA’s Secure Flight helps to enhance domestic and international travel through the use of improved watch list matching, while the US-VISIT program collects biometric information from international travelers, both of which help to protect travelers and our nation. These programs should be used as readily available tools to improve the system that protects our global aviation security.”

[Wes Richel] Gartner: Simple Interop: Why We Don’t Seek a Top Level Domain Name

“Should anyone need a demonstration of the difficulties that delay reaching global agreements, consider that the term “EHR” has an idiosyncratic definition in the U.S. when compared to most of the world. In the U.S. the term refers to the record of patient information that is kept by an individual care delivery organization (CDO), with the proviso that there be some degree of interoperability. In most other countries that use the term it refers to some specific sharing of information that may be sourced from many places including but not limited to the electronic patient records of individual CDOs.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-12-14

Monday, December 14th, 2009

By the Infoglide Team

San Francisco Examiner: San Francisco workers’ compensation claims seize millions

“The city and county of San Francisco employs approximately 26,000 people, and 3,406 workers’ comp claims were filed last fiscal year — which ended June 30 — costing The City $41.85 million. The payouts were 8 percent less than the previous year, in which $45.5 million was spent on compensation. This year, city officials say they aim to reduce claims by 5 percent as a projected budget deficit of $522.2 million looms.”

ICIQ 2010: 15th International Conference on Information Quality

“The International Conference on Information Quality (ICIQ) attracts researchers and practitioners from the academic, public and private sectors. Originally held on the MIT Campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the 2010 conference will be hosted by the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), the first university to offer graduate degree programs in information quality.”

WIRED: FBI: 19,000 Matches to Terrorist Screening List in 2009

“A subset of this list, the No Fly list, includes people considered a threat to aviation or national security and contains about 3,400 names, of which about 170 are U.S. persons. The list is used, among other things, to screen visa applicants and gun buyers as well as suspects stopped by local police. It’s also used by airport security personnel to single out some travelers for extra screening or interrogation.”

ChannelWeb: The 10 Biggest Cloud Computing Stories Of 2009

“Even as some pundits continued to debate the definition of cloud computing, virtually every IT hardware, software and service company sought to define (and in many cases redefine) itself as a cloud-computing vendor. That’s not surprising, perhaps, when Gartner puts the 2009 market for cloud computing services at $56.3 billion, growing to $150.1 billion by 2013.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-12-11

Friday, December 11th, 2009

[Post from Infoglide] State Agencies Adopting Entity Resolution

“Significant opportunities to apply identity resolution and entity analytics exist at the state level. State agencies interact with citizens and corporations across many domains, including collection of tax revenues (e.g. oil and gas – I’m from Texas!), licenses (e.g. motor vehicles, hunting, fishing), housing programs, lotteries, child protective services, health care, workers’ compensation, the court system, law enforcement, and homeland security.”

thestar.com: Store owner guilty in $5.75M lottery fraud

“A former convenience store owner has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Ontario Lottery Corporation after misrepresenting a winning ticket worth $5.75 million as his own.”

ZDNet: Cloud computing, so much more than multi-tenancy

“The trouble with talking about multi-tenancy itself is that it draws you into an abstract debate with conventional software vendors over the relative merits of alternative deployment platforms for a given application. This immediately brings the debate onto their home ground — a place where applications are discrete, deployments happen as a batch process and you have to get the system up-and-running before you even start thinking about meeting the business requirement. That’s not where the cloud is at.”

Liliendahl on Data Quality: Phony Phones and Real Numbers

“There are plenty of data quality issues related to phone numbers in party master data. Despite that a phone number should be far less fuzzy than names and addresses I have spend lots of time having fun with these calling digits.”

UALR: UALR Joins National Identity Management Center

Dr. John R. Talburt, the Acxiom Chair of Information Quality at UALR, is an expert in the fields of information quality and entity resolution and will represent UALR at the center. ‘Dr. Talburt is a widely recognized, well-respected expert in the field of information quality and identity resolution. His vast knowledge in these areas of identity management will be an incredible asset for CAIMR and the research we are undertaking this coming year,’ said Dr. Gary R. Gordon, CAIMR’s executive director.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Infoglide Corporation maintains a partnership with Dr. Talburt and his Laboratory for Advanced Research in Entity Resolution and Information Quality (ERIQ). The Lab conducts research addressing important problems related to entity resolution and information quality.

State Agencies Adopting Entity Resolution

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

By Robert Barker, Infoglide Senior VP & Chief Marketing Officer

Fresh out of grad school, I initiated a career in software development by writing software for state agencies. Although I migrated to work for software companies several years later, lessons learned in those beginning years were a great platform for later challenges.

Significant opportunities to apply identity resolution and entity analytics exist at the state level. State agencies interact with citizens and corporations across many domains, including collection of tax revenues (e.g. oil and gas – I’m from Texas!), licenses (e.g. motor vehicles, hunting, fishing), housing programs, lotteries, child protective services, health care, workers’ compensation, the court system, law enforcement, and homeland security.

In most of these areas, it’s important to know exactly who you’re dealing with and who their associates are. For example, we’ve partnered with a state workers’ compensation organization to help them detect employers trying to defraud the state by paying lower premiums than they rightfully should. These employers try to foil the state by dissolving and reforming under different company names, but identity resolution is adept at uncovering such unlawful maneuvers.

New entity resolution applications that deal simultaneously with multiple sources of data residing at multiple agencies promise to make state government more efficient and effective. For example, an agency that requires a citizen to supply information during an application process can augment that process with incremental real-time services that find linkages to other data, thus making it possible to stop payments and/or deny licensing to “dead beat dads”, people who have unpaid taxes, etc. until they meet their legal responsibilities.

While using entity resolution in commercial and federal applications is moving rapidly, states have only just begun to exploit this new technology. If you know of areas that need to be addressed, we’d like to hear about them.


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