ENABLING QUICK AND
Data is among the most potent weapons of the 21st century. In the event of a catastrophe such as a chemical spill, natural disaster, disease outbreak or a terrorist attack like 9/11, information comes from many sources, such as camera images, data from sensors and simulations, and text documents from police and health-care agencies. Being able to quickly and accurately access the data and deploy resources is a daunting task.
As director of VACCINE, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, David Ebert’s goal is to help our nation’s 2.3 million extended homeland security personnel, including first-responders, perform their jobs more effectively by turning mass amounts of data into manageable information.
Director, VACCINE (Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments)
The Silicon Valley Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
INTO VISUAL PATTERNS
VACCINE (Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments) has developed tools to take the raw data, analyze it and provide visual representations so that first-responders can make informed decisions. For example, Ebert and his team have developed the Visual Analytics Law Enforcement Tool kit or VALET (see the crime trend predicting tool above) that allows law enforcement agencies to spot crime patterns, trends and hotspots.
“We provide prediction models that can show data on day-of-week or time-of-day variations,” Ebert says. “This tool is especially helpful since many police departments have seen staffing cuts. Hopefully with this tool they still can maintain the same level of safety if not increase it.”
HELPING FIRST RESPONDERS
WORK MOST EFFECTIVELY
Ebert’s research is inspired by the problems that people face in a digital age where information overload can lead to serious outcomes. “We try to ensure that our tools add value so that people can do their jobs more effectively instead of being overwhelmed or having to sift through information that isn’t useful,” he says.
Much has been learned in the aftermath of 9/11, including how to integrate myriad sources of information in real time. Ebert leads a team of computer scientists, computer engineers, statisticians and cognitive psychologists who work together to develop the software infrastructure to integrate data, analyze patterns and deviations, and provide systems tools that can be used on multiple platforms -- laptops, handheld devices or smartphones.
ALLOWS LONG-TERM VIEW
“In some situations you have to make quick decisions while other times you’re working on more advanced predictive modeling tools,” Ebert says. The latter looks at long-scale analysis whether it’s a crime spree, a flu pandemic (as shown in the graphics on this page) or a terrorist plot and can help responders evacuate people, if needed. An example of such a training tool is one being developed in conjunction with the NFL and the Department of Homeland Security to train security personnel in the event of an incident that requires evacuation of Lucas Oil Stadium during the 2012 Super Bowl.
Ebert, whose work includes consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard for multiple risk-related projects, sees the educational mission of the University extending beyond the traditional student body. “Providing life-long learning opportunities for professionals make them more effective and improves public safety,” he says. “We are putting resources into developing these tools, but the police departments are putting their most valuable resource—their personnel—into it so we must ensure that what we provide makes them more efficient and effective.”
FUNDING AND PARTNERS
- National Geospatial
- Intelligence Agency
- National Science Foundation
- Army Research Office
- Department of Defense
- Department of Health
- Human Services
- U.S. Dept. of State
- Foreign Broadcast
- Information Service
- National Institute of Justice Defence Research & Development Canada
- U.S. Coast Guard
- Customs and Border Patrol, DHS
- Oak Ridge National Laboratories
- US Army Corps of Engineers- Engineering Research and Development Center
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
- ARL CERDEC & ARDEC
- US Attorney’s Office (David Capp)
- Indiana Department of Homeland Security
- Indiana State Department of Health
- Indiana Board of Animal Health
- Georgia Department of Health
- Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department
- Lafayette, West Lafayette, Purdue Police Departments
- Tippecanoe County EMA & Sherriff's Department
- Coast Guard Seattle Sector
- Joint Harbor Operations Command Center
- Port of Seattle
- Automated Regional Justice Information System
- Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- Navajo Nation
- Harris Corporation
- Charles F. Day & Associates
- Next Wave Systems, LLC
- Banfield, The Pet Hospital
- MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates
- Oculus Info Inc.
- Kx Systems
- Bank of America
- Duke Energy
- World Vision International
- Gates Foundation
- Kimberly Clark