Trucks at Work

Sifting data to boost safety and security

It’s sadly ironic that even as we remember the infamous attacks on Pearl Harbor, which occurred 74 year ago today, we’re trying to come to grips with the latest terrorist attack on our soil: carried out by two radicalized Muslims (a husband and wife team no less) against social workers at a holiday Christmas party in San Bernardino, CA, last week.

One question that keeps recurring with regularity where such attacks are concerned: how can we tap into “Big Data” better to gain advance warning of such plots and then hopefully stop them before they happen?

This is something I’ve discussed previously in this space, especially where the Pearl Harbor attacks were concerned.

This is also an issue of pre-eminence in the freight world, as the border closures and other terrorism response tactics can slow and even shut down the worldwide flow of goods.

Supply chain security procedures got tightened among many companies following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and for good reason as the jihadist hijackers that terrible day turned our then-transportation security playbook against us.

But now with this latest so-called “lone wolf” attack, there’s a need for more “granular” intelligence data, especially the ability to pull together separate strands of information such as traffic citations, financial transactions, and other such publicly-available items on a real-time basis.

I talked to Raj Ananthanpillai, CEO of IDentrix, just prior to the San Bernardino attacks last week about how the real-time and continuous conglomeration of background screening data can potentially help a wide variety of companies – but especially transportation providers – lower their risk profile.

I actually talked to Raj about IDentrix’s system in relation to concerns about employee fraud and how it creates a new threat companies must now monitor in some fashion.

Yet he noted that IDentrix created this continuous screening system partially in response to one aspect of the Sept. 11 attacks: that the jihadist hijackers attended U.S. flight schools to learn how to fly big jumbo jets. The FBI tried tracking this data “outlier” at the time but found itself stymied by a lack of database cross-checking ability.

Raj also noted that IDentrix fine-tuned its system to cross-check truck drivers seeking hazardous materials or “hazmat” endorsements.

“You’ve got all this publicly available data – arrest records, court records, and financial records – so we said there must be a simple way to check it all to see if there is a potential problem developing; and to do this on an ongoing basis,” Raj told me.

Many companies, he explained, may do a background check when they hire and employee and then may not do another one for three years.

“A lot can happen in that time: DUIs [driving under the influence] for example or bankruptcies, which may make workers susceptible to payments from cargo thieves,” Raj said.

he stressed, though, that 90% to 95% of the people screened by this technology are “good,” meaning that nothing untoward is ever detected. “It’s the 5% that bring down an organization,” he emphasized.

Yet it’s not just about protecting your company, Raj told me. It’s about getting the ability to get ahead of potential problems, such as a driver who gets two DUIs driving their personal vehicle.

“These are the few ‘ticking time bombs’ a company really needs to worry about; not the vast majority of their workers,” he added.

Something to think about as fears about home-grown terrorism are being rekindled anew.

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