Stellar Start-Ups: The next best thing to Jack

MindCite uses ontology to determine how people, things and situations meet.

By DAVID SHAMAH
January 25, 2009 11:33
4 minute read.
Stellar Start-Ups: The next best thing to Jack

Oren Yosifon 88 248. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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MindCite's technology can more efficiently discover when the bad guys are plotting something - and give law enforcement or security agencies a jump-start on stopping them before they can succeed The TV world is a lot safer than the real world, it would appear. On TV, you have super-good-guy Feds like Jack Bauer, who unfailingly stop the bad guys just in the nick of time. Relying on intelligence, fast computers and apparently very superior software and technology along with the occasional karate chop, Jack has saved the 24-hour day at least once annually for the past eight years or so. We should only be so lucky to have a guy like that helping out with our homeland-security problems! But believe it or not, there is an Israeli company that brings "24"-style intelligence-gathering capabilities to the common non-TV security agency. With its "semantic Web technology," Rosh Ha'ayin-based MindCite (http://www.mindcite.com) uses ontology - figuring out the relationship between words and concepts - to determine how people, things and situations meet, says MindCite CTO Oren Yosifon. "Our system gives law enforcement and regulatory agencies the ability to 'unify' information on the Internet, or in free text-like e-mail messages with information locked inside databases, to determine the hidden relationships between entities and cases," he says. Meaning, says Yosifon, that MindCite's technology can more efficiently discover when the bad guys are plotting something - and give law enforcement or security agencies a jump-start on stopping them before they can succeed. Customers - which include dozens of agencies in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia - use MindCite's Citer, a "focused" Web crawler that detects specific information they are seeking related to the context they've set up. Citer checks out text and links on Web documents, looking for relationships that exist (or might exist) between people, places, objects, events and ideas, and prioritizes the results for clients. Using MindCite's unique ontology engines, the crawler ensures that the data is relevant to the specific searches, connecting it to other pieces of data that may also be important. In addition, another MindCite component also parses databases, e-mail messages and other Internet communications. Thus, the system can ferret out information on objects, people, events, etc., giving clients an insight into what has already happened, and giving them a better chance at making an educated guess on what may happen next. The result: A full dossier that can be used to "connect the dots," says Yosifon. "We try to mimic the process people use to put ideas and events together. When you're surfing the Web and researching a topic, you sift out the bits of data that will help you achieve your goal, based on previous information you've already gathered that is helping you reach your research goal. In the same way, our system helps sift out the information from the public Web and databases to achieve a goal." That goal can be anything from figuring out to set up a security corridor for a head of state, to determining whether someone is manipulating the stock market, or to preventing a full-scale terrorist attack. The "information map" built by the MindCite system brings all the data together in one place, enabling investigators to more easily come up with the connections they need to do what needs to be done to stop the bad guys. As an example of MindCite technology at work, Yosifon cites a kidnapping that took place not too long ago in a South American country. Police were suspicious when the father of a boy who was nabbed alerted his insurance company even before calling investigators, in order to collect a settlement on his family-kidnapping insurance policy (very common in South America). Using MindCite's system, police searched the phone numbers of all incoming and outgoing calls to the office and home of the father, who was an importer of Japanese cars. Police got a break when a witness came forward, describing a car that was in the area of the boy's home right before he was snatched. But with just the few characters of the license plate that the witness was able to supply, investigators would normally have had to spend weeks checking out the cars and possible suspects, by which time the kid could have been spirited out of the country. Luckily, the force was a MindCite customer, and police used the system to seek out relationships between the father's phone calls, and the owners of the cars. And indeed, the system picked up that a coworker of the father was indeed the owner of one of the vehicles on the suspect list. Not only that; the Citer Web crawler picked up that the prices of the Japanese cars the father imported were set to change in such a way that his bottom line would be badly hurt. That led police to figure out that the whole thing was just a setup, so the father could recoup his losses with the insurance money. The boy was found in short order, and the dad and coconspirator nabbed on charges of fraud - thanks to MindCite! It's a powerful system, and Yosifon says the company has made an effort to ensure that it is used properly. "All the countries among African and South American customers, for example, are democracies. We only sell to countries that we are permitted to sell to by the Defense Ministry, of course, but beyond that, we work only with the 'good guys,' fighting major world problems like narco-terrorism, piracy and terrorism." Unfortunately, those seem to be "growth industries" around the world right now - and if we can't get Jack Bauer to protect the world, at least we can feel a little more secure having MindCite around. startup@newzgeek.com

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