I was thinking about a reverse Facebook, an unFacebook . The key difference is that this is not a social network that is populated by willing participants, but populated with people by information gatherers.
For example, I meet you, and unbeknownst to you, I add you to my unFacebook. I meet another person and add them. Later I find out that you and he are business partners. I then “friend” you to him on my unFacebook. I give access to this database to all the people in my organization and send them out with iPhones and a handy little app that they can use to snap facial photos, grab a GPS point for last location, and fill in some quick details about subjects. Sometimes my people use their iPhones to show photos of subjects to other people to verify names or aliases, corroborate last known locations, and make links with other subjects in the database. Multiple aliases could be resolved through face recognition software. Multiple spellings could be resolved through morphological analysis. Personal details, links, and geolocation data can all be captured on the go in a very simple and familiar system (everybody knows how to use Facebook). As these bits of disparate information come into my UnFacebook, I use this data for an advanced type of link analysis, or scalable social network analysis (SSNA). It seems to me that a system like this would be handy for soldiers fighting an insurgency.
I would assume that law enforcement organizations have something like this that has been the result of a long evolution of link analysis technology. Doing a little research I found a list of tools used by the NSA in James Bamford’s The Shadow Factory (pp. 149): PatternTracer, Agility, AMHAS, Anchory, ArcView, Fastscope, Hightide, Hombase, Intelink, Octave math, Document Management Center, Dishfire, CREST, Pinwale, COASTLINE, SNACKS, Cadence, Gamut, Mainway, Marina, Osis, Puzzlecube, Surrey, Tuningfork, Xkeyscore, and Unified Tasking Tool. This is simply a list of tools used by the NSA. I could not find out what many of these did. That may be because they are specific to the NSA, or historical with no trace left on the net. ArcView is the only social network analysis tool I could confirm. Pinwale is data-mining software, which can be used for SSNA. But this is beside the point.
The military has its own needs and different ways of collecting intel than domestic law enforcement agencies, or even the NSA. With all the COIN work Western militaries have been conducting in the past decade, a flexible, automated, unFacebook-style link analysis application could be a benefit. Such an application probably exists, and if anyone has some information on it, please share. If not, this is a potential market for an enterprising startup. Please contact me if you would like to collaborate. ;)