Born in New York City in the immediate wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the “If You See Something, Say Something” slogan was the brainchild of a New Yorker — Allen Kay, chairman of an advertising agency. He coined the phrase on Sept. 12 of that year for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) “before transit officials even asked,” according to a New York Times article that explores the backstory behind the phrase, which has since been adopted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As Kay told the Times, he had the opposite of the “Loose Lips Sink Ships” slogan in mind. “I thought it was ironic because we want just the opposite. We want people to talk. I wanted to come up with something that would carry like that. That would be infectious,” he told the newspaper. How successful was the “See Something, Say Something” approach? According to a 2016 story from The Washington Post, law enforcement in New York saw suspicious package reports jump from 814 in 2002 to more than 37,600 in 2006. The catch, however, was how to make sense of this exponential increase in suspicious activity reports? And, just as importantly, how have intelligence professionals tried to connect the dots when security and civilians alike are able to identify and report just a few pieces of the puzzle.
Also born in the post-9/11 era was TrapWire Inc., a provider of threat detection and risk mitigation software. At the time of its founding in 2004, TrapWire sought to offer services that would provide public and private sector organizations an “Intelligent Security Method” with true counter-terrorism and threat detection capabilities. This was accomplished through a technology that put prevention – not response – as the core goal. With cloud-based incident reporting that complements and leverages existing security systems, TrapWire’s proprietary approach provides clients constant monitoring and analytic capabilities that allow security personnel to prevent rather than react to threats. TrapWire has also proven invaluable in separating “the signal from the noise,” thus providing their clients with the ability to better deal with the increased reporting from programs like See Something Say Something.
Information overkill, particularly from untrained private citizens, will always be a challenge for law enforcement and private security firms alike. It’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between a briefcase someone mistakenly left on the subway on their way to work from one that could have ties to terrorism. This is where TrapWire comes in. With the cloud-based software installed as part of your operation’s security program, constant and thorough analysis of behavior that is compared against a national databse of tens of thousands of reports and suspects, TrapWire can recognize the hallmarks of suspicious behavior and alert your team to such occurrences. With TrapWire, municipal police departments and security firms overseeing private facilities can both benefit by getting “Left of Boom” when it really matters.