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Travel Safely in a Dangerous World

June 1, 2016 by Judith Magyar 66

Worried about crime and calamities while on the road? Prescient and the raw power of SAP HANA text analysis and geospatial engines help minimize risks wherever you go.

“It is 100 times more dangerous to be a female than a male traveler anywhere in the world today,” says David Walsh, CEO of Prescient, a company that uses leading-edge technology to provide safety and risk management services for travelers all over the globe.

Prescient is a provider of counterintelligence and security programs for Federal Government clients, including a protection program that safeguards uniformed and civilian government employees operating in more than 40 locations around the world.

“Over the years, we’ve been exploring the idea of leveraging our expertise and our technology for the private sector. Travel safety is a defined market where existing providers are essentially reactive,” Walsh told his audience last month at SAP Select, the premier executive business program at SAPPHIRE NOW.

Understanding the Threat Environment

Mitigating threats to travelers, male or female, requires deep insight into the worldwide threat environment. It is a data-intensive challenge since international travel presents a number of risks, ranging from crime and terrorism to health, weather and natural disasters.

Assuring that a specific individual – with a unique profile – will be safe in a specific location at a specific time requires analyzing multiple data streams in real-time. Prescient had the expertise to identify the key data, but they needed a technology platform that had the scale to deliver the sophisticated, commercial-grade service they envisioned.

“We had a significant problem sourcing data. Our travel and safety program was done in an embarrassingly analog fashion, so we put together a world-class team with a greenfield mentality to solve the problem. We needed less info that is more relevant to help us untangle a huge data program and deal with mobile threats,” said Walsh.

To deliver Prescient Traveler, the company had to create a robust platform. The requirements for such a platform were extraordinary. The user volume and number of travel destinations are much higher in the private sector. The platform would have to aggregate and analyze massive amounts of data from myriad sources, relate traveler locations to street-level threats in thousands of cities, provide textual analysis of unstructured, multi-lingual sources describing emergent and historical events worldwide, while providing real-time alerts to subscribing travelers and their stakeholders.

The Right Technology

No technology on the market came close to SAP HANA’s capabilities.

“Besides scale, SAP HANA provides two crucial capabilities,” said David. “SAP HANA’s geospatial analytics suite can correlate traveler locations with known and emergent threats in real-time, which is a very complex task. The geospatial component in SAP HANA is the only way to track such huge numbers of people and figure out how to send them to shelter. We also use the linguistic and sentiment analytics capabilities in SAP HANA to parse streams of information virtually in real-time for keywords that might suggest a threat to travelers in a given location.”

As a result, Prescient Traveler knows how close a traveler is to any one of thousands of defined danger zones and can provide direction or warnings as needed.

Mantra of Innovation

“Prescient is a good example of an innovation use case,” said Greg McStravick, global head of Digital Enterprise Platform GTM at SAP, during an interview at SAPPHIRE NOW.

“A system of innovation is about using our platform products to do things differently tomorrow than you do today, to innovate in areas of the business that aren’t built on a set of software products like normal ERP. Prescient is using our platform technology to alert high risk travelers with technology not built on SAP’s core software set.”

Prescient won Honorable Mention in the NextGen Apps Category of the SAP HANA Innovation Awards 2016. Click here for the full story and a more detailed description of the technology behind Prescient’s innovative idea.

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