Fighting the war on terrorism is occurring on many fronts using many different tactics. Some are obvious, like B-52s bombing Taliban positions in the mountains of Afghanistan. Others are much more subtle, like the ASP-based disease-incident reporting system being set up by Siemens Healthcare Systems to connect all 225 of Pennsylvania’s emergency rooms.
The goal of the system is to enable the state’s health department to spot an outbreak of diseases linked to bio-terrorism weapons such as anthrax or smallpox, John Kijewski, SHS’s vice president of Technology, told ASPnews.
Today, the Health Surveillance Engine is rolled out to only 50 hospitals because of budgetary issues, not the technology. In fact, because it is an ASP solution, it could be rolled out in a matter of months. And it takes even that long only because a local server needs to be installed at each location to collect and send data, said Kijewski. The state’s timetable calls for all 225 hospital ERs to be equipped with the HSE within three years.
Other ASP technology is being used in some less obvious, but no less important, information-sharing programs designed, like the Siemen’s system, to spot patterns of activity and alert those most in need of that data, said John Lindquist, president of Electronic Warfare Associates’ Information and Infrastructure (EWAII) subsidiary.
EWAII is the custodian of two of the federal government’s anti-terrorism initiatives that began prior to 9/11. In 1998, a presidential directive led to the formation of 13 IFACs — Information Sharing and Analysis Centers — to watch over the nation’s major civilian infrastructures such as transportation, gas and oil, and water.
EWAII handles two of these: ground transportation and water. At the time they were formed, the IFACs decided an ASP model would be the best way to facilitate the sharing of information, which, in the case of the surface transportation IFAC, comes in from subscriber companies in transportation-related industries such as trucking.
Once threat information is collected it is scrubbed of personalizing data that could be used to tie it back the company of origin — a necessary step to get companies wary of government regulation on board, said Lindquist. The information is then analyzed and sent back out in the form of alerts.
Even though particularly well-suited to the role, it turns out that the ASP model is not being widely employed by federal agencies to fight terror, said Lindquist. Turf-wars and suspicion between the FBI, CIA, the defense department and other data-gathering organizations still hamper the free-flow of information. Security is also an issue not completely addressed by the ASP model and this causes concern as well.
By Allen Bernard.