Global digitization allows us many new opportunities in a variety of fields. At the same time, this technological transformation produces a huge amount of data collected every second. Over the years, the ingestion and use of all this data has resulted in digital-information overload and demands a different approach.
Access to all that data and their correct use should lead to much better decision-making in every organization, no matter the issue. Today, however, the diverse forms that data takes create a situation in which running a query that aims to help make decisions uses only some of the data — and unfortunately, impairs quality decision-making.
The problem is even greater when it comes to data integration and management within the agencies that protect communities, countries and economies against criminals. Intelligence operations aren’t always as sleek and efficient as they are in the movies, with a senior official from HQ surrounded by rows of monitors, barking at analysts wearing headsets for the last known location of a suspect, as another analyst zooms in on security-camera footage pulled by the intelligence agency’s all-powerful, globally connected system.
In reality, intelligence-data gathering and integration are incredibly disjointed processes for federal government and municipal law-enforcement agencies alike. Let’s take a use case much less grandiose than an international manhunt: a police department’s 911 operations. Even there, we see how messy data management can be.
There, you have multiple sources providing the raw data, such as street cameras, internal records, even the 911 calls themselves. All the data, if any, are pooled and then extracted by various software applications that perform tasks like object detection, face recognition and GPS location. In the process, the data are transformed for use by the extraction apps, obscured and siloed, and no longer in a form that helps authorities do their actual jobs.
This data-management problem is where we saw the opportunity to start a new company that will modernize mission-critical intelligence infrastructure. To that end, we’ve partnered with two military veterans, each with decades of experience leading cyber and intelligence operations, to launch a company that will build that vital platform and do for data what iOS and Android did for everyday consumers.
Our founding team has dedicated their careers to safeguarding the freedoms we all enjoy. I’m proud to collaborate with former colonel Ronen Korman, who last headed the Israeli Prime Minister’s division of technology for operations and cyber, and former colonel Asaf “Pizzer” Cohen, who served as deputy commander of the Israeli Military Intelligence Unit 8200. Ronen and Pizzer will serve as co-CEOs of this new company, which we’re calling Metrolink.
Let’s face it: Most investigators are not data scientists, and the agencies they work for tend not to be digitally native organizations — nor do they necessarily need to be. Their job is to protect our communities, and at the federal level, our country and our economy. That’s why tech firms have been able to step into the space and win government contracts from the national to local levels.
But, while these platforms claim to integrate data and present actionable insights through a user-friendly interface, how operationally oriented are they? How flexible are they to rapidly changing scenarios? How agile are they to new capabilities that are adopted? How coupled are the data to the specific platform, and how does the platform avoid mutating the data through the transformation process.
Also, building on top of that data pipeline is often beyond the capabilities of these agencies, who then rely on more third parties to supply the engineering talent and bespoke code.
An OS for the Defense and Security Community
The technologies that make modern life more precise and efficient are doing the same for those hellbent on doing harm or threatening national security. I recently discussed how those who put their lives on the line to protect our way of life deserve digital-age tools and strategies to finally get ahead of tech-savvy criminals.
However, this constant, one-off approach to upgrading intelligence-gathering infrastructure gets expensive. As in civilian life, an explosion of apps have been developed for these agencies in recent years. But unlike us, these organizations don’t have the equivalent of companies like Apple or Google that are willing to build an operating system that provides a high-level framework for data integration and app interoperability.
Currently, no such product exists. Analysts and operatives rely on a patchwork of technologies that produce incomplete, or worse, duplicate results. As one of them told us: In his system were no less than 18 Osama bin Ladens. When you’re dealing with criminal intent of this magnitude, data precision is a must.
Having spent years on the front line of military intelligence, Ronen and Pizzer are deeply committed to using leading-edge technology to make the systems that the guardians of public safety rely on more nimble and effective.
On that note, the platform we’re building will allow these organizations to easily develop and acquire mission-oriented apps, try them out on their existing data, and quickly add or replace old apps with better ones without influencing legacy assets. And perhaps most importantly, because they’re using a common operating system, these agencies will be better able to cooperate with one another.
For the app developer community, Metrolink’s solution will provide a flexible op-system, a coupled environment and data sets for R&D purposes — neither Metrolink nor the community touch the operational data — while giving developers ongoing exposure to the needs of these agencies.
These organizations should be able to benefit from the same digital advances and best industry practices as the rest of us — a modern data-architecture platform that’s API-forward from sensor to operational value, with a built-in consideration to legacy data and the flexibility to access the data at any time, in its pure form, instead of surrendering it to a third party.
Initially, Metrolink will focus on customers in the defense and public-safety sectors, such as counter-terrorism agencies and police departments. With offices in Israel and the United States, this new, standalone company will strictly adhere to certified protocols for the U.S. Department of Defense for its development and testing work stateside.
Join Our Elite Force
All successful elite units consist of extraordinary individuals working together towards a clear goal. If our mission resonates with you, reach out to us: We’re actively recruiting for 20 developers with deep expertise in data science, DevOps engineering, system design and more.
In a technology-driven world, we’re constantly faced with functionality challenges. But in the realm of national defense and law enforcement, the problem of piecemeal data-management solutions can hold actual lives in the balance. Metrolink will enable these essential agencies to seamlessly access more of their data, and produce better insights, to inform real-time decisions and improve operations in the field that preserve peace and prosperity in the million different ways we on the outside never see.
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