Las Vegas has embraced the twin trends of data mining and high-tech surveillance, with arguably more cameras per square foot than any airport or sports arena in the country, reports the Washington Post. As the federal government ramps up its efforts to forestall terrorist attacks, some privacy advocates view the city as a harbinger of things to come. Surveillance specialists rely on thousands of cameras in nearly every cranny of casinos to evaluate suspicious behavior. They ping names against databases that share information with other casinos, sometimes using facial-recognition software to validate a match.
Jeff Jonas developed a computer program for the casino industry that helps detect cheats using aliases. In 2002, Jonas shared his technology with Pentagon officials, who were researching a technique called pattern-based data mining. Their aim was to identify terror networks from patterns of behavior, by plowing through vast beds of data such as hotel, flight and rental-car reservations. Jonas, now an IBM chief scientist, said narrowly focused link analysis is less invasive because it starts with a known suspect rather than casting about in the general population. At the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, investigators have used link analysis to track money laundering. From one Suspicious Activity Report — which financial institutions are required to send to the government –they have identified a money launderer’s partners in crime. FinCEN has a decade’s worth of data on 170 million report.