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Aptima - Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Contract

Aptima : 18 June, 2007  (Company News)
Aptima, has announcedthat it is collaborating with Boston College on a Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) contract for the application of social network science to counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Under the three-year project, the BC-Aptima team will develop a framework for how social network science can support efforts to detect, identify and disrupt adversarial networks that pose the threat of using nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Social network analysis (SNA) is viewed as a critical tool in combating the use of unconventional materials and methods by helping visualize or model the ‘pipelines' through which funds, weapons and technical knowledge flow amongst trans-national terrorists, smugglers, criminals, and rogue WMD elements around the world. The team will be led by Dr. Stephen Borgatti of Boston College, a leading expert in social networks.

The defense and intelligence communities are increasingly tasked with predicting and anticipating the motivations and actions of hidden, shadowy networks. They are challenged, however, to build predictive scenarios which can require analyzing millions of pieces of disparate information. SNA tools can establish links and relationships among loosely connected webs of individuals, groups and cells, creating visual representations that illuminate the make-up of these adversarial networks.

The BC-Aptima team will perform two key tasks that simultaneously address both dimensions of the WMD problem: creating a unified framework for how social network science can support defense threat reduction and; creating WMD-specific strategies that apply social network analysis.

In the first phase, the team will create an integrated theoretical framework for social networks that consolidates and unifies advances in the field so they can be applied to the WMD/military domain. Social network science is an emerging discipline with its roots in academia, that draws on concepts from social psychology, anthropology, sociology, mathematics, and physics.

In a parallel phase, the team will construct an architecture for applying social network science to understanding and controlling WMD scenarios. Using generic goals, such as identifying targets whose removal will disrupt enemy networks, this phase will determine how social network science can support the military decision making that leads to effective courses of action.

John Shaw, CEO of Aptima, stated, 'This is a new era, where threats are arising from hard-to-identify cells and obscure network elements using unconventional tactics and organizations. Countering these adversaries requires not only new modes of thought but also advanced tools that mesh technology with a deep understanding of social networks. Aptima is honored to be working on such a challenging and critical project.'
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