Case Study: The technology that foiled the liquid bomb plot

ADS member Basis Technology was founded in 1995 by MIT-educated engineers with experience living and doing business abroad. Today, with 60+ government deployments (200+ commercial) and over a decade of experience, Basis Technology is a trusted source of multilingual text analytics and digital forensics for government agencies and system integrators.

They’re the company behind the technology that foiled the liquid bomb plot and will be exhibiting in the UK Pavilion at Milipol Qatar this week.

Battle-tested AI

In August of 2006, ten aircraft did not explode during their flight over the Atlantic. Instead of plunging into the ocean, they landed on runways – a happy ending to what would have been a human tragedy had law enforcement not been tipped off by some carefully crafted Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Long before the planes took off, British and American intelligence teams had intercepted communications among a group of terrorists that were hatching a plan to incinerate the near-dozen aircraft and all hands through the use of liquid explosives. This heinous scheme, which later came to be known as the “liquid bomb plot”, is the reason why carry-on bottles containing fluids are today limited to 3 ounces (100 ml). The specific AI technology that alerted security officials is natural language processing (NLP), and the company that built the NLP application was Basis Technology.

This is one of many such successful deployments for Basis Technology. With over 20 years of experience in the field, they have worked with intelligence organisations around the world to draw meaningful and, in many cases, life-saving information from unfathomably large and complex masses of multilingual data. While most of these incidents remain classified, the liquid bomb plot is a slice of Basis Technology’s track record that can be disclosed.