The Sept. 11 attacks and subsequent security alerts have heightened the need for tools enabling government agencies and private corporations to scour databases for potential terrorists and other security threats whose names appear on various watch lists.

However, the issues surrounding critical identity search applications are not new. Over the last 15 years, many organizations, including AT&T, Amex, Citibank, Citizenship & Immigration Canada, Equifax, Experian, the Internal Revenue Service, GE Capital, The Hartford, OneBeacon Insurance, Sprint, VISA as well as many front-line state and federal U.S. government bodies, have implemented Search Software America's (www.searchsoftwareamerica.com) identity search and matching software to address the needs of fraud detection and analysis, criminal and justice information systems, duplicate discovery, in addition to the needs of applications that require thorough searching of watch and alert lists, such as border control, visa issuance and export control.

Because names, addresses and other personal information when entered into databases are often spelled differently, have words added, missing or out of order, are sourced from different countries and cultures, and contain many other variations, either accidentally introduced, or deliberately in the case of fraud, the need to reliably search for and identify unique individuals or organizations has long been both a non-trivial problem to solve and a priority for business and government.

While a primary motivation of many data matching systems has been to cut costs by trimming multiple entries from mailing lists and other databases, preventing fraud and quickly locating customer information are also important benefits. Recent news events, in addition to highlighting the importance of searching data files for terrorists, have focused attention on how easily individuals can be misidentified and "lost" within an organization's databases.

SSA's Identity Systems (IDS) software enables organizations to perform on-line inquiry and batch processing of identification data without programming or modification to existing database tables. Using the SSA-NAME3 algorithms, the company's core technology, IDS locates matches in spite of errors caused by typing, spelling, pronunciation, use of abbreviations and the vast majority of other factors that lead to unavoidable error and variation. The software can be used with identity from all countries and languages. -- Jim McKay, justice editor

Jim McKay, Editor  |  Editor