Campus: CSU Fullerton -- March 07, 2003
Homeland Security Is Faculty Member's Focus
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Rahul Bhaskar envisioned the massive
effort ahead for law enforcement officials to not only track down those
responsible, but to prevent future acts of terrorism.
The associate professor of information systems and decision sciences,
who joined the Cal State Fullerton faculty last fall, is harnessing
the power of computer technology to meet this challenge. He is working
with law enforcement officials in Wisconsin and the federal government
to devise a new information system that will bolster criminal case management
Such systems are being used in high-profile cases, such as the Washington-area
sniper investigation, in which law enforcement used a system that quickly
establishes links among an agency's own files and with those of other
"Information is located in many different places right now,"
says Bhaskar, who has received grants from the Wisconsin Department
of Justice and Division of Narcotics Enforcement to support this effort.
"Unfortunately, often one agency doesn't know what another agency
One part of his undertaking is social network analysis, which finds
connections between people through various aspects of their lives, such
as friends, co-workers and memberships. This type of information would
be of great help when tracking individuals who live in different parts
of the country, says Bhaskar, but only if a method is devised to share
such information among local, state and federal agencies.
The main goal of his efforts is to develop a system that provides statistical
information about individuals or enterprises while preserving their
"These two requirements conflict - when data security increases,
usability decreases. The challenge then becomes to provide as much information
as possible while protecting the confidentiality of the individuals
Bhaskar has worked with Wisconsin's Department of Justice since 1992.
Initially, he was tasked to set up a computer information system for
different law enforcement agencies to share information, including suspect
descriptions, common techniques, and types of weapons or times when
crimes occurred. In 1994, Bhaskar received additional grants to work
with Wisconsin's Division of Narcotics on an early version of intelligence
gathering and analysis.
That system, Sherpa, integrates distributed knowledge sources and information
to help the narcotics division make decisions about charging crime suspects,
Bhaskar notes. By 1999, Sherpa was outperforming the existing system
in the identification of criminals.
Bhaskar has been a consultant to the California Bureau of Justice and
is developing a prototype of a regional intelligence-sharing network
that could link law enforcement agencies in Washington, Oregon, Nevada
and California. Currently, he is seeking contacts with local law enforcement
agencies to further his research and development of intelligence systems.
"By developing a network of shared knowledge, law enforcement agencies
can make connections, links that can bring criminals to justice,"
says Bhaskar. "With shared knowledge from federal agencies to state
and local agencies, it brings homeland security to a local level."
A native of India, Bhaskar holds a doctorate from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison and resides in Irvine.
Media Contacts: Rahul Bhaskar, associate professor
of information systems and decision sciences, at (714) 278-3328 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pamela McLaren of Public Affairs at (714) 278-4852 or email@example.com