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Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-10-16

Friday, October 16th, 2009

[Post from Infoglide] Avoiding False Positives: Analytics or Humans?

“The European Union recently started a five-year research program in conjunction with its expanding role in fighting crime and terrorism. The purpose of Project Indect is to develop advanced analytics that help monitor human activity for ‘automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour and violence.’ Naturally, the project has drawn suspicion and criticism, both from those who oppose the growing power of the EU and from watchdog groups concerned about encroachments into privacy and civil liberty…”

SDTimes: Old thinking does a disservice to new data hubs

“The enterprise needs to be able to understand the origin, the time and possibly the reason for a change. These audit needs must be supported by the data hub at the attribute level. MDM solutions that maintain the golden record dynamically address this need by supporting the history of changes in the source systems record content.”

Accision Health Blog: Surveys Show Importance of EHR

“A new Rand study is one of the first to link the use of electronic health records in community-based medical practices with higher quality of care.  Rand Corporation researchers found in a study of 305 groups of primary care physicians that the routine use of multifunctional EHRs was more likely to be linked to higher quality care than other common strategies, such as structural changes used for improving care.”

NYSIF: Central NY Contractor Hit with Workers Comp Fraud Charges

“Investigators said Mr. Decker previously had an insurance policy with NYSIF when he operated RD Builders in November 2005, a policy cancelled for non-payment a few months later. In 2008, he applied to NYSIF’s Syracuse office for workers’ compensation insurance doing business as Bull Rock Development, Inc.”

public intelligence: Office of Intelligence and Analysis (DHS)

“These entities are unified under local fusion centers, which provide state and local officials with intelligence products while simultaneously gathering information for federal sources.  As of July 2009, there were 72 designated fusion centers around the country with 36 field representatives deployed. The Department has provided more than $254 million from FY 2004-2007 to state and local governments to support the centers.”

Avoiding False Positives: Analytics or Humans?

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

By Robert Barker, Infoglide Senior VP & Chief Marketing Officer

The European Union recently started a five-year research program in conjunction with its expanding role in fighting crime and terrorism. The purpose of Project Indect is to develop advanced analytics that help monitor human activity for “automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour and violence.”

Naturally, the project has drawn suspicion and criticism, both from those who oppose the growing power of the EU and from watchdog groups concerned about encroachments into privacy and civil liberty:

According to the Open Europe think tank, the increased emphasis on co-operation and sharing intelligence means that European police forces are likely to gain access to sensitive information held by UK police, including the British DNA database. It also expects the number of UK citizens extradited under the controversial European Arrest Warrant to triple. Stephen Booth, an Open Europe analyst who has helped compile a dossier on the European justice agenda, said these developments and projects such as Indect sounded “Orwellian” and raised serious questions about individual liberty.

Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty, a UK human rights group, said, “Profiling whole populations instead of monitoring individual suspects is a sinister step in any society. It’s dangerous enough at [the] national level, but on a Europe-wide scale the idea becomes positively chilling.”

At IdentityResolutionDaily, we’ve consistently supported open and civil discussion about balancing security requirements with individual rights of privacy and liberty (e.g. “Walking the Privacy/Security Tightrope“) . We’ve also dealt with the criticality of using analytic technology that minimizes false positives (e.g. “False Positives versus Citizen Profiles“).

Not long ago, James Taylor of Decision Management Solutions made an excellent point about whether using analytic technologies (e.g. identity resolution) versus relying totally on human judgment increases or decreases the risk of false positives:

Humans, unlike analytics, are prone to prejudices and personal biases. They judge people too much by how they look (stopping the Indian with a beard for instance) and not enough by behavior (stopping the white guy who is nervously fiddling with his shoes say)… If we bring analytics to bear on a problem the question should be does it eliminate more biases and bad decision making than it creates new false positives… Over and over again studies show analytics do better in this regard… I think analytics are ethically neutral and the risk of something going “to the dark side” is the risk that comes from the people involved, with or without analytics.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Privacy – A Dying Concept?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

By Gary Seeger, Infoglide Vice President

An intriguing post by Nate Anderson on Ars Technica highlights a difficult reality about today’s easy availability of vast quantities of “anonymized” data. Quoting from a recent paper by Paul Ohm at the University of Colorado Law School, Anderson writes that “as Ohm notes, this illustrates a central reality of data collection: ‘data can either be useful or perfectly anonymous but never both.’”

A seminal study published in 2000 by Latanya Sweeney at Carnegie Mellon opened the issue by proving that a simple combination of a very small number of publicly available attributes can uniquely identify individuals:

“It was found that 87% (216 million of 248 million) of the population in the United States had reported characteristics that likely made them unique based only on {5-digit ZIP, gender, date of birth}. About half of the U.S. population (132 million of 248 million or 53%) are likely to be uniquely identified by only {place, gender, date of birth}, where place is basically the city, town, or municipality in which the person resides… In general, few characteristics are needed to uniquely identify a person.”

Faced with a choice between exploiting easily obtainable data for righteous ends versus the potential misuse of identifying individuals, can an appropriate balance be struck by privacy legislation? Anderson points out that:

“Because most data privacy laws focus on restricting personally identifiable information (PII), most data privacy laws need to be rethought. And there won’t be any magic bullet; the measures that are taken will increase privacy or reduce the utility of data, but there will be no way to guarantee maximal usefulness and maximal privacy at the same time.”

Looking at the subject from a business perspective, using technologies such as identity resolution to connect non-obvious data relationships serves many initiatives. It would seem admirable to exploit public records and other forms of publicly available information to mitigate risks, uncover fraud, or track down “bad” guys. Yet some cry foul when the technology exposes individuals who didn’t anticipate that their “private” information would be used to identify and/or track them down.

In the rapidly evolving cyber-information age, the desires, conflicts, and limitations of protecting privacy will continue to be sorted out in the legal realm. Those of us who solve business issues using identity resolution technology will swim in this legal quagmire for many years. Finding an appropriate balance between the protection of individual privacy and bona fide business uses of “public” data will almost certainly be a growing challenge to the moral and legal minds of our community.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-10-05

Monday, October 5th, 2009

By the Infoglide Team

todaysthv.com: Arkansas Business on Today’s THV: Arkansas Lottery

“The efforts start at the lottery’s west little rock distribution center, home to 26 million lottery tickets potentially worth about $48 million in winnings. But those tickets are worthless until they pass through multiple security scans. The system ensures that no one can redeem a winning ticket if it was taken from a hijacked delivery truck, or a smash-and-grab at a convenience store that sells the tickets.”

Telegraph.co.uk: EU funding ‘Orwellian’ artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for ‘abnormal behaviour’

“York University’s computer science department website details how its task is to develop ‘computational linguistic techniques for information gathering and learning from the web”…’Our focus is on novel techniques for word sense induction, entity resolution, relationship mining, social network analysis [and] sentiment analysis,’ it says.”

Information Management: Risk Management and the Need for Master Data Management

“By reconciling disparate master data (clients, products, vendors, chart-of-accounts, reference data) across the enterprise, MDM can provide organizations with a comprehensive and accurate view of their businesses, helping them understand their risk exposure to clients and vendors and their overall financial health.”

Government Computer News: Fusion center approach could be effective in other areas

“Closely related cousins to fusion centers are emergency operations centers. Although these centers might also deal with security-related data feeds, their main function is to import real-time data that’s related to specific events such as national disasters or terrorist incidents. An emergency operations center may track everything from the location of ambulances or rescue personnel to available hospital beds or even the location of victims who need to be rescued.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-09-28

Monday, September 28th, 2009

[Post from Infoglide] Social CRM, CDI, and Identity Resolution

“In her well-read book on CDI, Jill Dyché offers a definition of CDI that also seems to describe social CRM. Try reading her definition of CDI, replacing ‘CDI’ with ’social CRM’: CDI is a set of procedures, controls, skills and automation that standardize and integrate customer data originating from multiple sources.”

Concord Monitor: Don’t play games when giving your name

“What do they want? Your date of birth, your gender and your middle initial. This information will be relayed to the TSA, and the TSA will match the information against information maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center (an arm of the FBI that gathers and consolidates watch lists). The theory is that a 12-year-old boy named John X. Doe can more easily be separated from John Z. Doe, who happens to be a 37-year-old man with a history of making bombs, if additional information is collected during the booking process. Once TSA has cleared you, you’ll be issued a boarding pass.”

pressdemocrat.com: Achieving paperless health care

“Medical record-keeping, until recently, relied on rooms full of paper files that were easily misplaced and filled with hurried, handwritten entries that could be hard to read. Electronic records hold orderly, keyboard-entered data that never leaves a hard drive and have the potential to move seamlessly from a primary care provider’s office to an emergency room or specialist’s suite.”

ebizQ: MDM Becoming More Critical in Light of Cloud Computing

[David Linthicum] “We’re moving from complex federated on-premise systems, to complex federated on-premise and cloud-delivered systems.   Typically, we’re moving in these new directions without regard for an underlying strategy around MDM, or other data management issues for that matter.”

Homeland Security: I&A Reconceived: Defining a Homeland Security Intelligence Role

“There are currently 72 fusion centers up and running around the country (a substantial increase from 38 centers in 2006).  I&A has deployed 39 intelligence officers to fusion centers nationwide, with another five in pre-deployment training and nearly 20 in various stages of administrative processing.  I&A will deploy a total of 70 officers by the end of FY 2010, and will complete installation of the Homeland Secure Data Network (HSDN), which allows the federal government to share Secret-level intelligence and information with state and local partners, at all 72 fusion centers.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-9-25

Friday, September 25th, 2009

By the Infoglide Team

[Post from Infoglide] Social CRM, CDI, and Identity Resolution

“In her well-read book on CDI, Jill Dyché offers a definition of CDI that also seems to describe social CRM. Try reading her definition of CDI, replacing ‘CDI’ with ’social CRM’:  CDI is a set of procedures, controls, skills and automation that standardize and integrate customer data originating from multiple sources(1).”

Charleston Daily Mail: Former owner of WVa trucking company sentenced

“Leonard Cline formerly owned H & H Trucking. The insurance commissioner says he defrauded the old state workers’ compensation system of more than $500,000 in unpaid premiums, penalties and claims for benefits over about 10 years.”

WTVQ: Eight People Indicted for Insurance Fraud

“The US attorney’s office says the suspects intentionally damaged insured automobiles owned by other conspirators then filed claims.”

KansasCity.com: Push for electronic medical records picks up steam

“With or without health care reform this year, electronic medical records are picking up steam. Recent technological advances are easing the transition for doctors and hospitals, and there’s the little matter of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. The act, part of last spring’s stimulus package, included billions of dollars to ‘advance the use of health information technology.’ There’s plenty of advancing to do, with one group estimating that less than half the hospitals and only one in five physicians are equipped to fully use electronic records. ‘The United States is far more advanced in grocery store technology than in medical records technology,’ said Steve Lieber, president and chief executive officer of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in Chicago.”

pnj.com: Man charged with workers’ comp fraud

“Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the arrest today in a news release. In the release, Sink said her Division of Insurance Fraud said Soto is charged with falsifying employment numbers with the intent of avoiding higher workers’ compensation premium payments.”

Federal News Radio: Update: Identity management in the Obama administration

“The alphabet soup of identity management programs from the Bush administration — HSPD-12, TWIC, Real ID, and many more — have gotten little attention publicly during the first nine months of the Obama presidency. But that doesn’t mean identity management has been ignored totally, says one senior administration official.”

London Evening Standard: Lloyd’s chief warns of more insurance fraud

“Lloyd’s of London’s chief executive Richard Ward today warned the deep recession would increase the number of fraudulent claims being made against the insurance market.”

Computerworld: Laptop searches at airports infrequent, DHS privacy report says

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s annual privacy report card revealed more details on the agency’s  controversial policy involving searches of electronic devices at U.S. borders. . . . For instance, numbers released in the report indicate that warrantless searches of electronic devices at U.S. borders are occurring less frequently than some privacy and civil rights advocates might have feared. Of the more than 144 million travelers that arrived at U.S. ports of entry between Oct. 1, 2008 and May 5, 2009, searches of electronic media were conducted on 1,947 of them, the DHS said.Of this number, 696 searches were performed on laptop computers, the DHS said. Even here, not all of the laptops received an ‘in-depth’ search of the device, the report states. A search sometimes may have been as simple as turning on a device to ensure that it was what it purported to be. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents conducted ‘in-depth’ searches on 40 laptops, but the report did not describe what an in-depth search entailed. . . . The report chronicled similar efforts to monitor the privacy implications of a range of projects that privacy groups are also watching. Examples include  Einstein 2.0 network monitoring technology that improves the ability of federal agencies to detect and respond to threats, and the  Real ID identity credentialing program. The DHS’s terror watch list program, its numerous  data mining projects  and the secure flight initiative were also mentioned in the report.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-09-18

Friday, September 18th, 2009

[Post from Infoglide] Metrics for Entity Resolution

“In the last post I discussed the concepts of internal and external views of identity.  The fact that we can have different views of the same identity then raises the question of how to go about comparing different views.  What complicates this issue is that, even though we can talk about resolving references in pairs (i.e. linking two records if they refer to the same entity), the total number of references can be quite large, and consequently, there are many possible pair-wise combinations to consider.”

FederalComputerWeek: DOD opens some classified information to non-federal officials

“The non-federal officials will get access via the Homeland Security department’s secret-level Homeland Security Data Network. That network is currently deployed at 27 of the more than 70 fusion centers located around the country, according to DHS.”

Gerson Lehrman Group: Stylish Master Data Management

“In my experience, one of these styles is nigh-on impractical.  ‘Centralized’ (also called ‘transaction’) implies a wrenching architectural shift whereby the a master data hub becomes the one and only source of master data for an enterprise, replacing the functionality of generating master data in existing transaction systems, and serving up ‘golden copy’ data to other systems, perhaps via an enterprise service bus architecture. This sounds elegant, but is extremely invasive.”

INFORMATICA PERSPECTIVES: Get To “Meaningful Use” Faster

Identity resolution’s goal is to find the right person at the right time, regardless of the potential for error and variation in what information is available at the time of request.  This could be during patient registration and admission, patient transfers or referrals, emergency room visits, and simply sharing information across providers or insurers.  The ability to do this effectively must become the most basic and core function.”


False Positives versus Citizen Profiles

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

By Mike Shultz, Infoglide Software CEO

A post from Steve Bennett in Australia refers to an announcement by the Dutch government about their intent to prevent crime by profiling their citizens. By creating a digital profile of each citizen using banking, flight, and internet usage information, their justice department plans to compare citizen profiles with those of convicted criminals, then let law enforcement authorities know when matches are found. Needless to day, the move has created quite a bit of discussion in the Netherlands.

In no way would such a move fly in the United States. From the time of its founding, our citizens have consistently shown a distrust of government that has limited its control over basic freedoms. While some would argue that the U.S. government has gained too much control over the years, that healthy distrust has definitely limited government intrusion into our personal freedoms.

In contrast to the broad approach proposed by the Dutch Minister of Justice, systems using entity resolution can avoid the “boil the ocean” approach. You can target specific data sources that hold relevant information, and then compare the bare minimum of attributes needed to discover hidden relationships, all without creating and storing profiles on millions of non-criminal citizens.

With such a system, can false positives occur? Yes, but the technology has become so sophisticated that the chance of a false positive is minuscule. The judgment to be made is whether the number of false positives outweighs the increased level of security afforded the public.

No doubt, the lively discussion between those concerned about invasion of privacy and those focused on keeping the populace safe will continue. And that’s how it should be.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-08-21

Friday, August 21st, 2009

[Post from Infoglide] Walking the Privacy/Security Tightrope

“In a post last April, we talked about the privacy/security balance issue for fusion centers and for vendors with supporting technology. Now an article in the Austin Sunday paper about a proposed fusion center again highlights the tension between security and privacy. Each time a fusion center is proposed, the story goes like this…”

information management: MDM for Tough Times: 5 trends to strengthen organizations during recession

[Aaron Zornes] “Enterprise MDM solutions are steadily but rapidly evolving away from data-centric hubs into full-blown application stacks. In other words, MDM is becoming less of a standalone technology infrastructure as the emphasis is increasingly on relationships between domains, user interface and integration with other emerging and adjacent technologies such as RFID, entity analytics and business intelligence.”

InformationWeek: Healthcare Tech: Can BI Help Save The System?

“Healthcare IT is a good place to be these days. While IT budgets in many verticals have been tightly reined, healthcare is enjoying multiple government mandates. This has resulted in an infusion of funds to modernize and integrate IT infrastructure, applications, and data. However, we aren’t starting from a high ground. There are multiple challenges to attaining a 21st century-grade IT environment.”

OCDQ Blog: Adventures in Data Profiling (Part 2)

“The adventures began with the following scenario – You are an external consultant on a new data quality initiative.  You have got 3,338,190 customer records to analyze, a robust data profiling tool, half a case of Mountain Dew, it’s dark, and you’re wearing sunglasses…ok, maybe not those last two or three things – but the rest is true.”

VIDEO: Interview with Secure Flight

TSA Secure Flight Program Director Paul Leyh is interviewed about recent developments.

Walking the Privacy/Security Tightrope

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

By Mike Shultz, Infoglide Software CEO

In a post last April, we talked about the privacy/security balance issue for fusion centers and for vendors with supporting technology. Now an article in the Austin Sunday paper about a proposed fusion center again highlights the tension between security and privacy. Each time a fusion center is proposed, the story goes like this:

“Local law enforcement officials see benefit of two-way information sharing with other local, state, and national agencies… privacy groups are concerned about unnecessary intrusions into personal information.”

As of July 2009, 72 such centers have been put in place and are operational across the country. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in conjunction with the Justice Department, has tried to address the need for consistent operating principles. Starting in 2005, they published and continue to maintain a set of guidelines suggesting how to establish collaboration and data sharing between agencies while protecting the privacy and civil liberties of citizens.

It would be nice to report that every fusion center has performed flawlessly in solving crimes while preserving American freedoms. Given that they are run by human beings, execution at every center hasn’t always fallen within the guidelines. There are instances where the centers have been ineffective, and there are instances where controversial privacy issues have been raised when centers overstepped their bounds.

The Austin American Statesman article presented a balanced view of the issues surrounding fusion centers without sensationalizing them. Instances of controversies surrounding fusion centers were discussed, yet instances of the benefits of existing centers were also given.

As Jack Thomas Tomarchio, former deputy undersecretary for intelligence and analysis operations at DHS was quoted, “These things are brand new. They haven’t been around 20 years, and even the ones that have been around three or four years are still in their formative years. In many cases, they don’t have a track record.”

While existing software technology addresses both privacy and security issues, the ultimate decision to use it wisely falls to the people who run the fusion centers. In the City of Austin case, the concerns of privacy and security seem to be receiving equal consideration so that the best results can be achieved without trampling on civil liberties.


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