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Terrorists and criminals depend on anonymity to do their destructive work. Fortunately, the Department of Defense (DoD) and
Knowing the Booz Allen team’s success in helping the DoD identify terrorists since the early 2000s, the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate asked whether we could help identify war criminal and human rights violators.
The two missions have similar requirements: Fast turnaround, ability to analyze mixed media, and techniques that work even on unconstrained data—meaning the analysts do not have control over how the subject was recorded. “If you take a standard photo, you place the person a couple of feet away, facing the camera. In contrast, our media source may be of poor quality: Low resolution, bad lighting, and a subject who isn’t showing their face,” explains Jonathan Levitt, chief scientist.
“We’ve been able to stop really bad people from doing really bad things.”
- Jonathan Levitt, chief scientist
“Since we had an agile process in place, we were able to expand to accommodate the new mission quickly,” says Jonathan. “We have a 24/7 defense operations center, staffed by scientists who have 15 years’ experience developing advanced identification algorithms. The team includes scientists, subject matter experts, analysts, and developers, many with PhDs in fields like computer vision and machine learning.”
The team was able to modify existing processes, algorithms, and protocols to get the new capability on line within months.
Although the program launched only recently, it’s already providing a measurable improvement in identification rates for the client. “When events happen, we get requests in the middle of the night and can return analysis reports within hours—whether the situation involves suspected terrorism or war
“Besides conducting intelligence analysis, we are constantly developing new tools and capabilities,” he continues. The team builds next-generation biometrics and forensics solutions, including sensors, algorithms, and imaging capabilities. They also develop custom biometric systems and solutions for defense, intelligence, and law enforcement. These advances are available to all missions, providing continuously more accurate identification. “We keep moving the field forward. Thanks to our work across various client missions, we have
When asked about the most rewarding part of his job, he is quick to reply. “Helping prevent events that shouldn’t happen,” he says. “We’ve been able to stop really bad people from doing really bad things.”