Linux in Government: LAMP Solution for the "9/11 Commission Report" Recommendation

Linux and open-source software has immediate solutions for the war on terror.

As you read this article, I urge you to visit the Web site I discuss and actually test it. If you don't, then you're doing yourself and you community a disservice. Sitting right under our noses, open-source software is providing a solution right now to one of the major recommendations sited in the http://www.9-11commission.gov/ 9-11 Commission Report of July 22, 2004: "unifying the many participants in the counter terrorism effort and their knowledge in a network-based information sharing system that transcends traditional government boundaries.

The many participants in the counterterrorism effort include state and local law enforcement agencies, in addition to the FBI and CIA. In fact, the reorganization of the agencies that make up the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was intended to increase information sharing. DHS has screamed for information sharing for three years.

The Best They Can Do

DHS uses an acronym that people should recognize whenever it is used--ISAC. ISAC stands for Information Sharing and Analysis Center. The DHS ISAC Web page states:

To help develop ways to better protect our critical infrastructures and to help minimize vulnerabilities, The Department of Homeland Security has established Information Sharing and Analysis Centers or ISACs to allow critical sectors to share information and work together to help better protect the economy.

ISACs provide the framework for data sharing throughout the economy and the country as a whole. They also should provide a model for countries across the globe that are at risk for terrorists acts.

The ISAC for Government, NASCIO (National Association of State Chief Information Officers) says:

if the tragic lesson of September 11, 2001 has taught America anything, it is the value of actionable information about criminal activities and potential responses to those activities for the prevention of crimes. We have learned that a vast quantity of such information has little or no value in its undigested form. The "value add" comes when the information is

  1. collected in an organized way from vigilant and discerning sources,

  2. analyzed for local and widespread implications,

  3. used to advise potential targets, and

  4. incorporated into future prevention efforts.

Moreover, all of this must be done in a timely and comprehensive manner. The state CIOs, as the custodians of state critical information assets and as facilitators of statewide information sharing, have much to contribute to these goals.

Unfortunately, words on Web sites by a bunch of bureaucrats will not stop terrorism. In fact, the tragic lesson of September 11, 2001, has faded from memory. Law enforcement cannot work effectively when the people in decision-making positions in our government fail to empower them. Currently, the evidence points vividly to state CIOs who have failed to implement any of the "value add" they claim to have.

Working with Disparate Systems

Distributing ISAC centers throughout sectors of the economy and government can and should work to help hinder terrorist activities. By contrast, consider the recent case of an al-Qaida hacker who was carrying a number of disks and a laptop at the time of his arrest. His arrest lead to the arrest of numerous cell members in England and the United States. By himself, the hacker was an ISAC connecting numerous al-Qaida cells globally. Perhaps that fact should make one stop and wonder if known terrorists share information better than we do.

Industry executives recognize the issues stopping the US from implementing the 9-11 Commission's recommendation. For example, Tom Richey, who leads Microsoft Corp.'s homeland security practice said in an article yesterday, "The biggest barriers still remain cultural components, legal components [and] political components. It requires leadership. It requires leaders who are willing to embrace technology as a force multiplier for solving these problems."

Analysts in the community know that Richey put it nicely. I simply would have called them bureaucrats. You and I know that if Microsoft has problems getting its solutions into ISACs, then the "components" have remained immovable.

Fortunately, a viable Linux solution to the task of connecting disparate databases over the networks is in existence today. This extant system connects a variety of government databases with a LAMP Web services application that is freely downloadable from the Internet. It allows one to search disparate databases in disparate geographical locations.

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Some people would like to

Anonymous's picture

Some people would like to see Linux go away. Do not buy into their FUD. I suggest everyone read the following literature for themselves and make an objective decision.

PromotingLinux.com

Thank you.

Re: Linux in Government: LAMP Solution for the

Anonymous's picture

LAMP is a lousy way to get free software into government or anything serious.
It carries the MySQL DBMS, which is patently inferior to what people have been using, usually IBM DB2 or the Oracle DBMS. It will leave a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who groks data.
Better give them PostgreSQL, which at least has a chance of comparing favourably.

What a totally ridiculous comment. Stop your childishness. Dissing other projects does your project no good at all. In fact, people simply see such comments and think that PostgreSQL can not have much value when members of the project post such ridiculous comments.

This is LinuxToday, not slashdot. Take it somewhere else.

Re: Linux in Government: LAMP Solution for the

Anonymous's picture

How much do you know about intelligence gathering and the dissemination of derived data to interested parties? PostGreSQL / MySql / MaxDB are RDBMS that lack the capacity of true OODBMS. Intelligence capacity is reduced using relational structures. Intell data structures require tables to be reduced from the 3rd to 4th - 6th normal form and that is stupid in a relational model. OODBMS such as Matisse should be developed for Linux.

LAMP carries substandard component.

leandro's picture

LAMP is a lousy way to get free software into government or anything serious.

It carries the MySQL DBMS, which is patently inferior to what people have been using, usually IBM DB2 or the Oracle DBMS. It will leave a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who groks data.

Better give them PostgreSQL, which at least has a chance of comparing favourably.

Re: LAMP carries substandard component.

Anonymous's picture

The point is not whether they build it with MySQL or PostgreSQL, or even with Microsoft! The point is that the bureaucrats should get their thumbs out and build something, and that a lack of feasible technology is no longer an excuse for foot dragging.

Re: LAMP carries substandard component.

Anonymous's picture

TROLL

Re: LAMP carries substandard component.

Anonymous's picture

Especially looking at all the new features announced in PostgreSQL 8 in the last day or so!! PostgreSQL is the way to go.

Re: LAMP carries substandard component.

Anonymous's picture

What a totally ridiculous comment. Stop your childishness. Dissing other projects does your project no good at all. In fact, people simply see such comments and think that PostgreSQL can not have much value when members of the project post such ridiculous comments.

This is LinuxToday, not slashdot. Take it somewhere else.

Re: Linux in Government: LAMP Solution for the

Anonymous's picture

This is an accurate assessment of the buracracy that faces local, state and federal agencies. However, I have experienced first-hand two varying movements in the efforts to collaborate.
1) Local agencies are tired of waiting on state and federal committees and have started initiatives themselves.
2) State governments are trying to "do something" but become bogged down in the buracracy of "politics" that surround "who" has control. These usually start out reasonable and turn into huge projects with unreachable goals.

Probably the biggest issue of them all is lack of information gathering capability, not the integration of vast databases. Yes, there is a huge amount of data out there but most of it is stale and facts simply aren't being collected in a timely manner. For instance, while most large police agencies have some sort of technology and data gathering capability, most smaller agencies do not. In fact, approx. 89% of all police agencies nationally are 10 officers or less in size. In Ohio for instance, of the 977 police agencies 91.4% are 10 officers or less in size. How many police departments that have ten full-time officers will have servers and software to automate data collection? We are talking about a 7/24 operation so, that means a town or municipality that has about three officers on per shift.
The tidbits of information that will lead to a timely disruption in the flow of terrist activity in our country won't come from the analysis of reports taken months prior or from accident reports dumped into a silo that are weeks old. The information that we need to analyze comes from the everyday contacts that our local police have with the criminal element. Information that can and should be recorded in real or near time. Terrorism is a crime and crimes are committed by people. People that usually will be in-company with other criminals and usually would have some contact with our local police officers.
The politics of government aren't seeing the forest for the trees on this issue. They once again have forgotten about the largest percentage of the front line of defense, our local police. Large sums of money are being spent at the state and federal level but none seems to have trickled down to these local forces. The forces that make up the majority.
I agree that integration technology exists to combine these systems but even with this technology in place, it leaves a big gap in our abilities to pinpoint activity in a timely manner and to act accordingly on the intelligence provided.
Until we can supply the front-line forces with the basic ability to "collect the facts", all the integration in the world won't make a difference.

Keith Singleton
Armada Group, Inc.

Re: Linux in Government: LAMP Solution for the

Anonymous's picture

Most libraries use the z39.50 protocol for doing this. This protocol is independent of either supplier, database server or OS.

  • http://www.biblio-tech.com/html/z39_50.html

    Related to this is that database servers that support z39.50 often store data in MARC format. This format enables libraries to keep most data independent of supplier and database. (ie. no lock in)

  • http://www.loc.gov/marc/umb/
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