14 September 2014

Rule-based Design: The Future of HSI...

Levers in the Homeland Security Intelligence (HSI) ecosystem impact the performance and the health of the environment that the entities are sharing their respective insights. These HSI entities are people within the analytic ecosystem, who are diverse in the art and science they utilize to create and share insight.

The threat to any ecosystem in many cases is "too much" or "too little" of a key element of that environment that makes it thrive. Anything that occurs to offset the equilibrium in the ecosystem can have dramatic effects. What is the greatest killer of human beings on the planet earth over the past few decades? A good guess would be "Drought". Too much sun and too little water has killed millions.

Yet in the context of intelligence, if data is "The Sun" and shared insight is "The Water" then in order to mitigate the impacts of upsetting the equilibrium of our HSI ecosystem a prudent course of action is required. The levers should assist in the governance of the right amount of data and the right amount of shared insights so no one entity is at risk. Now we must examine the topic of "Rule-based Design."

Homeland Security Intelligence analysts who are experiencing too much data and not enough insight is many times the argument at hand. They are indeed at the mercy of the compliance and data governance mechanisms that are in place, because of the civil liberties, legal framework and privacy statutes across 50 U.S. states. To add to the complexity are the systems and analytic software solutions that have been developed over the past ten plus years. The software designers must incorporate "Rule-based Design" if they are to assist in the entire equilibrium of the HSI ecosystem. Jeffrey Ritter explains:
Clearly, for the IT architect, there are lessons to be learned. For each step taken by the IT architect to better account for all of the rules that a solution must navigate, before the design process begins and long before construction of the solution is underway, the IT architect is able to better assure the timely completion of the solution, and the compliance of the systems and resulting data with applicable rules. Yet, even in this second decade of the 21st century, we are witnessing a continued failure of IT systems to be designed for compliance. Time and again, systems are designed, built and implemented without early and complete evaluation of the rules that must be satisfied. The result is that corporations (and their lawyers) are often patching compliance onto the systems after the fact. Expenses are increased, compliance is less assured, and the IT architect often gets stuck with the responsibility.
“Rules–based design” means that IT solutions are designed with a fully-informed awareness of all of the rules, including the legal rules, that the solution and the data must satisfy. With cloud computing, data that is dynamic and volatile, and mobile users, the challenge is genuine – how do we anticipate all of the legal rules that may apply?
The solution will emerge incrementally. But the first step is to accept the principle that IT systems, and their data, can be designed differently. We can take into account prior to the design process, and not after the completion of construction, all of the rules that the systems and the data must successfully navigate.
Now we must examine the "Civil Liberties and Privacy Policy" and the applicability within the Department of Homeland Security.
The Policy applies to “protected information,” which the ISE defines as information about U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents that is subject to information privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protections required under the U.S. Constitution and Federal laws of the United States. DHS has instituted a policy whereby any personally identifiable information (PII) that is collected, used, maintained, and/or disseminated in connection with a mixed system is treated as a system of records subject to the administrative protections of the Privacy Act regardless of whether the information pertains to a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, visitor, or alien. As a result, this Policy also applies to information about nonresident aliens contained in “mixed systems.”
When you combine the complexity of a vast and endless data ecosystem with the rule-based design to try to accomplish the civil liberties and privacy of U.S. citizens; you have the basis for a significant challenge and a simultaneous opportunity. The governance of Homeland Security Intelligence is in the hands of policy makers and software systems designers. The drought metaphor utilized earlier to illustrate the point on "too much data" and "too little insight" can now be clarified in our focus post 9/11. As of this writing, the system is working and has prevented a terrorist attack in the U.S. homeland on the magnitude of that unforgettable Tuesday in September, 2001.

The entities within our Homeland Security Intelligence ecosystem will continue to be enabled or impeded by the policy decisions of civil liberties and privacy laws. The degree to which the software systems and rule-based design are commensurate with these policies may very well determine whether the equilibrium continues it's success in the United States.

The levers to improve our HSI in the midst of a dynamic and asymmetric enemy are a constant ambition. Looking into the future, we can only pray our analytic entities execute in an ecosystem that perpetuates our successes so far and minimizes our failures. The governance factors designed by our policy makers and software developers will determine our abilities to save lives and protect our vital national assets for years to come.

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