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IBM Releases Major Analyst’s Notebook Upgrade

IBM has released a major update to its IBM i2 Safer Planet Intelligence portfolio, that includes a full overhaul of its widely used Analyst’s Notebook. According to the company, the new version can be scaled up or down from 1 user to 1000.

The release was put out to general availability today.

“What we wanted to do was streamline a lot of the workflows with this release,” Steve Dalzell, Principal Offering Manager for IBM i2 Intelligence Analysis Portfolio, tells CivSource in an interview. “Things that used to take multiple clicks and processes to get to can now be done with a single click.”

We viewed a live demo of the update and he’s not kidding. The software is designed to be industry agnostic in the sense that for any organization with a big data set, they can use Analyst’s Notebook to visualize that data.

“The limits in terms of what data you can use are really just limits within the legalities of the user. Obviously for the intelligence community or intelligence-led policing, those are going to be different than the data used by enterprise users,” Dalzell said.

For unstructured data, Watson can be integrated to take in a range of data points that aren’t structured for analysis. The product will also work with most other unstructured data management platforms and relies on ESRI technology for geospatial and mapping capabilities.

“The older version of Analyst’s Notebook was a little rougher. We’ve done this overhaul with the incoming millennial analyst in mind. They are used to slicker interfaces. We also took feedback from our user base to make processes easier,” Dalzell says.

Analyst’s Notebook is a widely used intelligence software platform, with some 4000 organizations using it worldwide. In the demonstration, Dalzell highlighted workflows for organizations from law enforcement, to corporations trying to track down information leakers after critical meetings, to college health professionals tracking a meningitis outbreak.

Analyst’s Notebook allows users to parse distributed conversations on social media platforms like Twitter, and can even show when people in a network switch burner cellphones.

The visualization tool is robust enough to analyze petabytes of information, and also includes a recommendation engine that will line up bits of disparate information that may all point to a single person – think for example if you’ve changed bank accounts in the last few years, or addresses. The recommendation engine is likely to flag all of those changes together and tell the analyst that it’s still all you.

We asked Dalzell about the potential for false positives in the recommendation engine and he said the chances are slim. “With the computing power involved, we have brought the potential for a false positive way down, and we also present the potential connections as a recommendation, not fact. It is very important to keep the human element involved in the event of things like identity theft, or a simple mistake in the data.”

The revamp to Analyst’s Notebook comes on the heels of IBM opening i2 COPLINK Cloud to general availability within law enforcement in late July. COPLINK includes similar data parsing capabilities as Analyst’s Notebook, and is aimed at helping law enforcement suss out opaque connections in their investigative work. Both i2 COPLINK and now i2 Analyst’s Notebook include a cloud-backed web client – another facet of the modernization. Dalzell notes that Analyst’s Notebook also has limited mobile functionality for analysts in the field.