28Apr, 2022

Role of Big Data in National Security

What is the impact of big data on national security? We’ve written extensively on the impact of big data in various industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and education. Ensure you read all our previous blog articles before you proceed. In this article, we’ll look at the history and development of big data in national security. Next, we’ll explore some examples of how big data is being used in national security today. Finally, we’ll offer some thoughts on the trends and future of big data in national security.

What is Big Data?

Big data is a term used to describe the large and ever-growing volume of data generated by businesses, organizations, and individuals. By harnessing this data, organizations can better understand their customers, products, and services. They can also identify trends and patterns that smaller datasets won’t show. In addition, national security has significantly benefited from the innovations in gathering and analyzing large data sets. By analyzing large volumes of data, governments can better understand the threats to their countries and develop strategies to counter them.

History and Development of Big Data in National Security

National security has always been a top priority for governments around the world. To protect their countries, they have relied on various methods and technologies. One such method that has seen a recent increase in usage is big data.

The use of data in national security is not a new phenomenon. Data has been used in national security for centuries, starting with big data techniques to track enemy movements during wartime. However, it has critically transformed national security operations globally in the latter years of the twentieth century and modern times.

Big Data in National Security Today

Tracking and analyzing the movement of people and goods across international borders

The movement of people and goods has always been an issue of concern for nations historically. Therefore, it is critical to track the movement of people entering and exiting the country for security purposes. Furthermore, governments each year plan to distribute the country’s resources equitably to ensure social cohesion. Therefore, they must track all resources entering and exiting the country.

In addition, illegal immigration is a critical issue today in developed and developing nations. Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes as they are unregistered and unrecognized. However, they compete for the same resources and economic opportunities that legal migrants pay taxes. This presents a national security problem as high unemployment rates lead to increased crime. Furthermore, an increased number of immigrants who don’t pay taxes stagnates development.

Counterfeit goods and illegal imports affect local industries. Governments set up various legislations to protect local industries. Therefore, they need an effective and real-time process that tracks goods exiting and entering the country. Big data enables national security authorities to ensure goods such as illegal firearms and weapons don’t enter the country. Furthermore, through big data analytical models, they can track and apprehend importers of illicit goods.

Identifying potential terrorist threats and tracking terrorist networks

Since the turn of the century, terrorism has become a critical issue. Countries such as Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, and Syria, have suffered from terrorist activities. The western world has also had several incidences of terrorist activities that have led to the loss of lives. As a result, national security authorities have had to innovate new ways to identify potential threats and track possible terrorist networks.

Big data analytic tools have enabled authorities to identify suspicious activities and track the movement of persons of interest. Authorities work with telecommunication companies to gather and analyze communication data. Algorithms and other big data analytical tools have enabled authorities easily filter suspicious communication. Furthermore, it has enabled authorities effectively counter money laundering that has over the years funded terrorist activities.

Monitoring social media for signs of unrest or civil disobedience

The development and growth of social media have transformed global communication. The world has become more interconnected. As a result, there has been increased cohesiveness in tracking global issues. However, social media has its ills. Malicious influential individuals have used social media to create civil unrest and disobedience. Civil disobedience is a significant threat to national security.

For example, Twitter suspended former U.S president Donald Trump as he created a lot of civil disobedience after he lost the election. Big data analytical tools have enabled authorities easily flag such individuals. Authorities have often told social media companies to track bots used to influence public opinion. This is still a huge issue. Social media companies have been unable to flag and apprehend racists and online hatemongers effectively. Hate speech is a threat to social cohesion.

Predict future events and trends based on analysis of historical data

Big data predictive analytics have transformed national security operations. By analyzing historical occurrences, national security authorities can predict the likelihood of a disruptive event. For example, in law enforcement, “predictive policing” technologies are used to predict where a crime may occur or who may be a victim or perpetrator of a crime in a given window of time. However, predictive analytics can be dangerous. For example, the scenario described above can lead to bias and discrimination. Authorities act through racial, ethnic, religious, age, or gender profiling, guided by the predictive model.

Future of big data in National Security

Increase in the collection of data

So what does the future hold for big data in national security? In short, big data will only become more critical in the years ahead. National security authorities will continue to gather more data that will enable them to track people and goods in real-time. In addition, they will work more closely with businesses such as banks and other financial institutions. Access to data from such institutions will enable them better track money-laundering activities. In addition, innovations in gathering and analyzing satellite data will continue to guide the sector.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is another trend that is likely to impact big data in national security significantly. As more and more devices are connected to the internet, the amount of data generated will continue to grow exponentially. This will present new opportunities for national security authorities to use big data analytics to gain insights into all aspects of society.

Data protection and human rights

As a result of this increase in data collection, civil pressure will force governments to enact data protection laws. These laws will protect the population against large-scale data gathering by national security authorities. There has been an increase in governments selling public data to private organizations. As a result, human rights organizations have been vigilant in data protection rights. As a result, predictive analytics in this sector will be less relied upon to reduce discrimination.

Authorities will take a keen interest in social media

Finally, experts predict that governments will take a keen interest in social media due to its growing impact in creating echo chambers that influence public opinion.

These trends are likely to have a significant impact on national security. As artificial intelligence and machine learning become more sophisticated, they will be able to process ever-larger data sets more efficiently. This will allow governments to obtain even greater insights from big data analytics.

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