Supporting Collaboration Across the Intelligence Community – Signal Magazine



SIGNAL Magazine, an AFCEA publication exploring trends and techniques in defense, intelligence and global security technology, wrote an excellent article discussing how Basis Technology’s HIGHLIGHT software is helping the Intelligence Community (IC) put names in standard spelling so they are easier to find and connect. What struck me was the the notion of how important HIGHLIGHT is in supporting collaboration across many departments.

IC name transliteration standards were put in place back in 2003, but it was a tedious and error-prone process to manually match name spelling variations to these new standards. Nicholas Bemish, senior expert for human language technology at the DIA, sums up the situation best in the SIGNAL article, saying: “We had individuals who either were going towards prosecution litigation, trying to get visas to enter the United States or actually having gotten onto the plane, where officials looked [at records] and said, ‘well his name was spelled in the Department of Homeland Security database this way and spelled in the State Department visa registry this way … so how would we have known?’”

Bemish recognized that a technology solution that fit into an analyst’s existing workflow was the key to a successful program. He also recognized that by starting with a commercial off-the-shelf set of software tools, and adapting them to his needs, he could deliver a single program with a single source of funding, which would speed the deployment to as many IC analysts as possible. “We have saved money across the intelligence community by reducing those cost burdens to each agency, and we’re all getting the same product and benefit,” he declares.

As a result of this clever strategy of cross-IC licensing and funding, HIGHLIGHT is being widely adopted, enabling efficient collaboration across numerous government agencies. “This way, since we use this system across the 16 intelligence community partnerships worldwide … we’re actually solving that problem [of matching names in multiple databases] today,” Bemish emphasizes.

This type of “top down” licensing model has also fascilitated the enhancement of HIGHLIGHT to better address the needs of multiple IC users. HIGHLIGHT is now able to perform entity translation and standardization in five languages (Arabic, Mandarin, Dari, Farsi and Pashto), with Korean and Russian language support available in the near future. Discussions are also underway to extend HIGHLIGHT to provide further assistance for entity analytics and resolution throughout the full intelligence production cycle on any platform or “the cloud”.

We’re pleased that our partnership with The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has allowed Basis Technology to play a small, yet vital, role in the global fight against potential threats.

If you are an IC user and would like access to Highlight for you department, be sure to join us at the HIGHLIGHT Program Managers Meeting to find out more details. You can also find out more information about HIGHLIGHT at


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