Earl flips Knowledge Switch

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

DURHAM, N.C.--With beginnings as a ship-repair operation in 1984, Earl Industries has grown into a major government supplier. Its Earl Technology Group, specifically, is focused on moving into the IT and software space, with an aim to help government entities leverage data and video in homeland security, intelligence and other military endeavors. Most recently, the company invested in Knowledge Vector, a software firm that creates "the critical infrastructure to recognize that an event or set of events is occurring, understand the necessary reaction to these events, and coordinate the appropriate response," through its Knowledge Switch.

"Those events can come from massively different places," said Nigel Elkan, VP of business development at Knowledge Vector. "From a motion detector, text in a conversation, a piece of video, an alert from a biometric device." Essentially, if the device has what Elkan called a "network heartbeat," Knowledge Vector can make it part of the security system.

The Knowledge Switch is the guts, for example, behind Abeo Technical Solutions' AWARE system, which the integrator calls "an advanced analysis system solution that consolidates and aggregates detection and surveillance sensors, analyzes and verifies anomalies and alerts responders via an automated notification feature."

"Our theory is to find the problem as far out and as soon as you can, then validate that it's a security violation," said Abeo CEO Bill Adams. AbeoTS uses seismic, radar, or fence-line detection systems at airports, for example. "The problem," Adams said, "is that all of those systems are dumb systems, just a blob on the screen.

Knowledge Switch provides the smarts, said Elkan. Further, "the other element of this is that security and safety ends up being tied up into more than just islands," he said. The different systems are aware of each other, and, "in the end, some of the competencies that we support are predictive maintenance." As just one example, the software might be able to read from the performance of the compressor in a refrigerator that it's running raggedly, differently than normal, and an alarm can be sounded."