DOD Funds National Information Fusion Center

Focus ranges from urban warfare and homeland security to disease outbreaks

Release Date: February 21, 2006 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A new U.S. Department of Defense-funded center based at CUBRC and the University at Buffalo will provide the U.S. armed forces with critical technologies to enhance major national security initiatives, such as aiding the hunt for weapons of mass destruction and providing accurate intelligence information to support operations and decision-making.

The National Center for Multi-Source Information Fusion Research will centralize research and development efforts in the field of "information fusion."

Information fusion allows users to assess complex situations more accurately by combining effectively the core evidence in the massive, diverse and sometimes conflicting data received from multiple sources, ranging from remote satellites and sensors to personnel, such as commanders and intelligence agents in the field.

The $1 million grant from the Department of Defense establishes the center as a single point of access to research and development in information fusion for the nation's defense, intelligence and homeland security communities, while also developing the field for medical and business applications.

"Information fusion can address military problems associated with the primary inability, for example, of intelligence analysts to accurately correlate massive amounts of information coming from many sources into a clear picture of the situation or threat," explained Michael D. Moskal, director of CUBRC's Information Exploitation business sector and research associate professor in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The center will develop algorithms and software programs to track individual "targets," such as a ship or an airplane, and to establish relationships between targets and attempt to predict where they might be going and why.

"These tools will be able to provide enhanced situational awareness to a commander so he or she can make a decision, determining not only what a particular object or target is, but what it might be trying to do," Moskal said.

The center plans to roll out prototype software programs for both military and non-military government agencies within the next year to 18 months; longer-term challenges related to national and homeland security also will be addressed.

"We're addressing problems that are current national priorities," said Moskal, "such as threats to critical infrastructure, such as large computer networks and providing incident commanders with better information when responding to disasters or other high consequence events."

In one such effort, Moises Sudit, Ph.D., managing director of the center and UB professor of industrial engineering, is developing with colleagues a software program called "Event Correlation for CyberAttack Recognition System" designed to help information security analysts better recognize and respond to large-scale, coordinated attacks on computer network systems.

Principles of that system also will be applied to urban warfare operations, as well as to nonmilitary events, such as outbreaks of diseases, whether they occur naturally, such as bird flu, or are the result of bioterrorism.

Other tools being developed by the center include new methods of signal processing, complex inferencing and estimation methods, and new visualization and human-computer interfacing technologies.

Moskal explained that because of its data mining component, information fusion also has many applications to nonmilitary research, such as in assessing accurately complicated medical data for diagnosis and treatment.

The awarding of the center to CUBRC/UB as the lead institution stems from its strong history as a pioneer in information fusion, starting with the Center for Multi-Source Information Fusion at UB, launched with funding from the Air Force in 1996 by James Llinas, Ph.D., UB professor of industrial engineering and systems.

Llinas is executive director of the new center.

Driven by its continued strong links to the armed forces, and its emphasis on addressing national security needs, the center has developed a more multidisciplinary and systems-level approach to the field than some other institutions, Llinas explained.

CUBRC/UB's partners in the center are the Rochester Institute of Technology, which has expertise in image analysis and visualization, and Pennsylvania State University, which also has a long history in information fusion research focused on the human and cognitive aspects.

Moskal noted that the center will provide a critical educational function for UB students and is envisioned as eventually providing an economic development benefit for Western New York.

"We want to provide employment for these people that we educate and train in this highly specialized area rather than lose them to other defense contractors out of state," he said.

CUBRC is an independent, not-for-profit company headquartered in Buffalo. Formed in 1983 by UB and the former Calspan Corp., CUBRC's mission is to generate technological and economic growth in Western New York by bringing together scientists and engineers from its own staff, academia and industry that form multi-disciplinary teams to execute a wide variety of research and development programs for the defense intelligence, homeland security and medical research communities.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.

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