Novel Intelligence from Massive Data

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The home page for Novel Intelligence from Massive Data (NIMD), a program of the Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA), an agency within the Intelligence Community, states that "The Intelligence Community has a central mission to help the nation avoid strategic surprise." [1]

According to an April 21, 2002, call for funding alert ("Novel Intelligence from Massive Data (NIMD) R&D Program (Amendment)"), NIMD's primary sponsor was then the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), an agency within the Department of Defense.

  • Strategic surprise is defined as "unanticipated events critical to national security - events that cause national level reactions, such as those of September 11, 2001. Strategic surprises may come in the form of deliberate actions prepared by adversaries of the United States, or they may emerge as unanticipated consequences brought about by the convergence of innocuous technological, economic, demographic, political, or natural forces." [2]

"In either case," according to NIMD, "it falls to the Community's intelligence analysts to spot the indicators of strategic surprise in the ever-growing volume, variety and complexity of data available to them, and to forecast accurately what the surprise might be." [3]

  • Novel Intelligence is defined as "actionable information not previously known to the analyst or policy makers. It gives the analyst new insight into a previously unappreciated or misunderstood threat." [4]
  • Massive data is defined as having "multiple dimensions that may cause difficulty, some of which include volume or depth, heterogeneity or breadth, and complexity." [5]

NIMD, ARPA claims, "is about human interaction with information in a way that permits intelligence analysts to spot the telltale signs of strategic surprise in massive data sources - building tools that capitalize on human strengths and compensate for human weaknesses to enhance and extend analytic capabilities. For example, people are much better than machines at detecting patterns in a visual scene, while machines are better at manipulating streams of numbers." [6]

"The central focus of NIMD is on analysts and how they work, and more specifically on supporting analysts as the orchestrators and directors of the analytic process. NIMD will utilize a Glass Box Analysis (GBA) environment that will capture and record activities that occur during the course of analysis." [7]

  • Note: NIMD/Glass Box Analysis pages last reviewed May 20, 2002; last modified October 29, 2002.

Novel Intelligence from Massive Data R&D Program

Contact details

Suite 6644
9800 Savage Road
Fort George G. Meade, MD 20755-6530
Phone: 301 688-7092 / 800 276-3747

Related SourceWatch articles

External links

General information

  • PARC Research: "KXDC researchers are contributing to a larger PARC team that is working on an Advanced Research Development Agency (ARDA) project called Novel Intelligence from Massive Data (NIMD)."

External articles

  • September 2002: "New Research Center Focuses on IT and the Intelligence Community," MITRE Corporation/The MITRE Digest. Re ARPA and NIMD, etc.
  • 5 November 2002: "Dynamix Technologies and CMU develop intelligence software", Pittsburgh Business Times: "Dynamix Technologies and scientists at Carnegie Mellon University partnered to win a contract to develop software that will be used by federal intelligence analysts for data mining. ... the contract falls under a program called Novel Intelligence from Massive Data. The software the company and the university develop will search in real time across multiple databases to detect unanticipated events critical to national security. ... Dynamix said the project will combine its own software tools for simultaneously searching databases with software developed by Carnegie Mellon's Language Technologies Institute that can note and interpret new information in a stream of documents. ... Ultimately, according to Dynamix, such a system could enhance an intelligence analyst's ability to find and evaluate important information. ... Dynamix and Carnegie Mellon, in Pittsburgh, did not provide specifics of the contract."
  • 18 September 2003: "TIA Killed, NIMD Lives On?" at Secrecy News speculated that "although Congress has killed TIA and closed the Information Awareness Office, 'Novel Intelligence from Massive Data' lives on: [...] 'Indeed, one TIA-like program conducted under the auspices of U.S. intelligence is the 'Novel Intelligence from Massive Data' (NIMD) initiative of the little-known Intelligence Community Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA). ... Pursued with a minimal public profile and lacking a polarizing figure like Adm. Poindexter to galvanize opposition, NIMD has proceeded quietly even as TIA imploded. ... The existence of NIMD was first noted last year by Jim McGee of CQ Homeland Security. More recently, on July 24, 2003 he wrote in CQ Homeland Security that NIMD was 'roaring down a parallel research track to TIA.' NIMD was also cited in a May 21, 2003 article in the New York Times."
  • 1 October 2003: "FYI: DARPA's TIA becomes DOA after being KIA'd by Congress; but spirit lives on in ARDA's NIMD" by Nick Turse, Unknown News.
  • 22 October 2003: "Georgia runs from the MATRIX" by Ashlee Vance, Register/UK: "The state of Georgia has pulled out of the U.S. Department of Justice sponsored MATRIX information collection program, leaving data only on its felons and sexual offenders behind in the Orwellian database. ... The list of states willing to participate in the MATRIX project is dwindling. Kentucky, Oregon and South Carolina pulled out earlier this year. Georgia's exit leaves the Party with Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah as guinea pigs. ... The handy life-tracking database idea should sound familiar. DARPA tried to get some backing for its Total Information Awareness (TIA) program before being shut down by Congress. It seems, however, that was bit a mini-bump in the road. Along with TIA and MATRIX, we have NIMD (Novel Intelligence from Massive Data); CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System); HID (Human Identification at a Distance), [and] ARM (Activity Recognition Monitoring)."
  • 24 February 2004/Also here: "Pentagon's terrorism research lives on at other agencies" by Michael J. Sniffen, AP: "Despite an outcry over privacy implications, the government is pressing ahead with research to create ultrapowerful tools to mine millions of public and private records for information about terrorists. ... Congress eliminated a Pentagon office that had been developing this terrorist-tracking technology because of fears it might ensnare innocent Americans. ... Still, some projects from retired Adm. John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness effort were transferred to U.S. intelligence offices, congressional, federal and research officials told The Associated Press. ... In addition, Congress left undisturbed a separate but similar $64 million research program run by a little-known office called the Advanced Research and Development Activity, or ARDA, that has used some of the same researchers as Poindexter's program."

For Further Research

  • ARDA, "OmniSeer: Novel Intelligence from Massive Data," ...