Countries around the world are looking for ways to secure their borders. From using name matching engines to increasing their use of big data text analytics, they are looking for ways to keep travelers and citizens safe. Last fall, Zettafox, a private firm, began work on a new system that would use text mining software tools to assist border patrol officers better assess the risk posed by visitors, according to an article in Defense News.andnbsp;
This effort came on the heels of attacks by agents of the Islamic State in Brussels and Paris. Border security experts have become concerned because of the number of people traveling into areas of Europe for the sole purpose of perpetrating acts of violence. In response to these attacks, Britain has implemented a new security system by which every single traveler to that country is subjected to a security check.
The United Kingdom looks at all people who wish to visit the nation, regardless of where they are from. They can hold European Union passports or not. One issue that has taken center stage in recent years is the fact that nations within Europe have not been sharing information from name matching engines and from named entity recognition tools.
Now Zettafox has been working to create an algorithm that can be both predictive and prescriptive. They hope to make it able to tell border control agents and agencies what actions they should take when certain people are trying to enter their country.
Marc Atallah and Patrick Zerbib started Zettfox and have been working on new software to improve border security throughout Europe since late 2013. Atallah says that they are looking for smarter ways border control agents can raise red flags about certain people. The duo has been working with Deloitte, another private consulting company.
The new software will use name matching engines and text analysis software tools to create profiles for travelers based on their posts and activity on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. The software will also look at their spending habits, though their credit card usage and phone calls made with their smartphones. When a person is flagged by their system, they can be interviewed by on-duty border control personnel.
They also see other applications for the system they are developing. Zettafox says that they think the system they are working on may be able to prevent or stop human trafficking.
The main pushback against this kind of system has come from people and organizations who are concerned with individual privacy. Some concerns have been raised in the United States about work the federal government has done there to collect data on its citizens. The United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters has also faced these criticisms.
The number of people who are traveling is only going up. In 2011, about 400 million people visited the Schenegn region. By 2030, that number is expected to rise to 720 million people. In the European Union, there are 1,800 points where people cross borders. The land borders equal to 7,721 kilometers.
Citizens of the European Union are allowed to travel freely within the region after they have gotten into any of the countries who are part of the system. This rule was set down by the Schengen treaty. The United Kingdom opted out of the treaty even before the nation voted to leave the European Union altogether.
The recent terrorist attacks throughout the continent have made people second guess the logic of the Schengen treaty. Europe is the destination for tens of thousands of migrants, refugees, and others. Some nations have started to put up new fencing along their borders.
Zettafox says there is a better way to approach border security and think that using tools such as name matching engines and text analysis software can create a safer space for all travelers. They say there is an interest in their new system in the banking, airline, and insurance industries.
Today, people can get from one country to another with relative ease. Using new software and text mining tools may make it easier for border security agencies and personnel to keep everyone much safer and make the borders more secure.