Investigative data mining represents a powerful new approach to criminal monitoring detection and alert dissemination. In private industry, data mining has primarily been applied to very large corporate databases for such applications as identifying potential customers. While data mining was originally conceived of as a way of extracting hidden associations from large databases, when coupled with agent technology it can be used to monitor events, extract important information via the Internet, intranets, and other proprietary networks, discover new patterns, assemble profiles, and deliver alerts to military, medical, law enforcement, and intelligence agency personnel. Using sensors, agents can work in tandem with other systems to analyze collected data and then issue real-time alerts to systems or personnel via the Internet, to proprietary networks, even to wireless devices.
For example, IBM developed an agent to work with its Intelligent Data Miner suite. The system consists of five agents:
A user interface agent that provides a Web interface for users to interact with the data miner and help them perform data mining analysis and display results
A coordinator agent that is responsible for delegating and managing various tasks that need to be performed for problem solving
A data-set agent that is responsible for keeping track of what data is stored in which data mart or data warehouse and actively maintaining metadata information
A data mining agent that executes the user-defined algorithms, performs on-line analytical processing (OLAP) analysis, and communicates the results to users or other agents
A visualization agent that allows for ad hoc and predefined reporting capabilities and a wide array of graphical reports
As we shall see in some of the following chapters, other data mining software tools are already incorporating agents into their products to assist the user in minimizing the effort of extracting, preparing, modeling, and delivering the results of their analyses. In the next chapter, we will explore how agent technology can be used with text mining technologies to monitor and retrieve specific information via the Web and other networks for criminal and terrorist detection and case development.