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Rafic Habib, CEO Clinic to Cloud for First Line Software

With advancements in data science it is possible today to quickly and automatically produce machine learning (ML) models that can analyze higher volumes of more complex data and deliver faster, more accurate results – even on a large scale. By building precise models, an organization has a better chance of identifying profitable opportunities – or avoiding previously unknown risks.

These technological advancements have led to the widespread interest and adoption of machine learning, which finds its application everywhere nowadays – in Natural Language Processing, Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Management, Healthcare Decision Support, Training and Education – the list goes on.

Yet, in spite of the technologies that already exist, many companies are faced with the need for specific ML tools that may not yet exist.  We work alongside our customers to design and build those ML tools. In fact, First Line has formed an organizational structure, business processes and methodologies specifically focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning. The structure includes client experts who will have the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge by participating in agile team activities.

Organizing Engagements with Machine Learning

While machine learning may be a critical element of a system under development and require special skills in the engineering team, in most cases it is only one of many elements of the system overall.

Given that machine learning typically deals with a large amount of data, a typical project includes the following steps:

  • Integration with external systems and data sources
  • Data extraction and preprocessing
  • Data profiling, cleaning and validation
  • Preparing Docker images and learning infrastructure
  • Data workflow orchestration and management

With the supporting data infrastructure in place, the ML-specific tasks may include:

  • Definition of the dataset and supervision signals
  • Manual feature engineering/automated feature detection
  • Definition of the ML method (SVM, decision trees, NN, pre-trained models), technology and pre-trained models
  • Definition of deep learning architecture (Convolutional, Recurrent, etc.)
  • Definition of the success criteria, then experimenting and fine tuning the whole chain

It is highly likely that the system under development will include other, more traditional elements and components, such as user interface, business logic and persistence layer.

Following the above implementation patterns, we structure the engagement and staff the teams accordingly: a balanced mix of data engineers, ML experts, and other developers working side by side with each other and with the client’s engineering organization.

A few of our representative engagements involving machine learning are described below.

Using Machine Learning for Data Governance of Analytical Assets

Health organizations routinely generate thousands of such analytical artifacts on a daily or weekly basis. With the wide-spread adoption of EHR systems by healthcare institutions, large amounts of data become available for reporting and other analytical insights.

Reliable patient matching is one of the most complex and most important elements in communications between health systems. Matching records to the correct individual is more complicated when patients receive care in multiple settings and when organizations and providers use different systems to share records electronically.

A leading healthcare system in the United States approached First Line Software for a solution. Our team created a searchable catalog containing over 100,000 analytical insights and automated the process to organize and classify them. Machine learning algorithms were built to detect duplicates and similarities in the reports and accurately assign the right metrics and portfolio membership.

A significant amount of already-available reporting data provided the foundation and opportunity to train the algorithms. These processes continue to evolve and improve ‒ with minimal human involvement ‒ as new analytical insights are added.

Upon deployment into production this system has been instrumental in reducing the analytical inventory by nearly 20%, lowering the turnaround time for producing new reports nearly in half, and significantly improving the quality of analytics for the organization.

Computer Vision Solution for a Large Industrial Client

Our client’s live streaming video from CCTV cameras had to be continuously monitored and analyzed to determine whether the staff was wearing mandatory safety devices - such as protective helmets or gas masks - in designated areas. An existing solution was dependent on signals from sensors embedded in the site equipment or movements identified by computer vision algorithms.

There were several specific challenges with this project:

  1. Visual recognition systems are typically trained by observing sets of available videos that replicate live scenarios. No such videos demonstrating staff compliance with mandatory safety equipment guidelines were available.
  2. Real-time video analysis was required.
  3. The system had to analyze and recognize specific movement sequences. For example, the following sequence is considered compliant:
    • The employee places a hard-hat on their head
    • The employee places a hood over the top of the hardhat.

Without analysis of existing videos, such sequence could be interpreted as a violation.

First Line addressed these and other challenges to deliver a solution that fully met the client’s technology requirements and reduced costs associated with safety-related injuries of the staff.

Patient Identity Resolution Using Machine Learning Techniques

Our client which develops registries of rare diseases has a need to receive and process patient data coming from external systems. Only patients that match target demographics and disease criteria qualify to be captured in the registry. Additionally, records coming from external systems have to be correctly matched to patients which are already in the registry.

We have utilized and integrated existing open-source machine learning modules with proprietary algorithms developed and optimized in-house. We trained these components on large sets of synthetic and real-life patient records to achieve desired matching accuracy and included patient identity resolution processes in the existing patient data ingestion pipeline.   

Image Recognition Solution for a Media Company

Our customer asked our engineers to develop an online system that could identify and recognize military equipment in a photograph. In the target implementation, the user of the system uploads a photo, asks the system to identify the equipment and provide a detailed description, including the model and its characteristics.

Algorithms used in the implementation of the system were trained using a collection of more than 300 units of combat vehicles from a museum in Europe - one of the most significant collections of military equipment.

We crowed-sourced an additional learning set by asking community experts to classify suggested military equipment online.

In this project we used transfer learning for convolutional networks to significantly reduce the size of each data set.

The First Line team looks forward to learning about your requirements for machine learning capabilities and the opportunity to deliver a high-performing solution that will help your company achieve its business objectives.

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Client References

I want to express my gratitude for all of your team’s hard work, support and extra help. We are very grateful for all that you have done for us.

Senior Project Manager, a U.S. specialty digital design and web development agency

Your quality of work is exceptional, and your flexible approach has allowed us to build and deploy a large amount of complex functionality in a very short space of time. Kudos to everyone for their professionalism and for delivering results that exceeded our expectations.

CEO, leading social media analytics provider

We have never had a better release that we can think of. And that is all because of your hard and dedicated work. So here is a big THANK YOU to everyone from all of us!

Editor, leading Scandinavian newspaper

For a software vendor like ourselves, picking the right development partner is crucial. First Line’s technical expertise and solid project management, coupled with their proficiency in Agile methodologies, have made them an integral part of our product development group.

VP Product Development, leading enterprise software vendor

Our First Line Team has been doing a great job. All of the guys check in great code, and they have a forward thinking mindset, not a feature-to-feature approach. They are also very open in terms of sharing knowledge, which is critical to running productive distributed teams.

Application Development Director, global marketing company

We've all learned a lot from you, and it is great working with you.

Application Development Director, global marketing company

The First Line team has an excellent process and we can learn from your team and improve.

Product Owner, Strategic Software Consultancy

I would like to thank the First Line development team for their dedication and high level of quality in their work. Despite being thousands of miles apart, we have been able to work quickly, effectively, and intelligently. Your team has been a major part of why we have been successful thus far.

VP Engineering, e-learning startup

First Line is a great technology partner capable of delivering complex, ‘industrial grade’ projects. They have demonstrated strong technical competence and solid understanding of the media and publishing domain. We have also been very impressed by the management team's attention to our needs and commitment to our success.

CEO, leading European digital media company

Your effort is the #1 reason that this project is going so well. I've worked with a lot of teams over the years and there are very few teams that I trust and respect. When you are given a task or feature, I never have to worry whether or not it will be accomplished on time and I never worry about the quality - you always deliver.

Architect, Strategic Software Consultancy

The team we put together in the last half of this year is one of the most productive, skilled and enjoyable I’ve ever worked on. It’s great to see the product brought to life, and I’m proud to work with all you folks.

Senior Architect, Fortune 100 company

The First Line Software team is professional, results driven, and proactive. I know that when we provide requirements for new functionality, they will not only deliver on the scope of what has been asked but will look beyond and give insight into how we can make our product even better. It has been a privilege to work with First Line Software, and I look forward to continuing our partnership in future.

VP, global marketing company
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Development process
1

Define
project scope

1-2 days

We discuss: project and business objectives
We provide: business analysts who assess current business processes and systems to identify specific gaps and areas for improvement
You provide: critical knowledge of your tasks and objectives

2

Gather requirements

2 days - 1 week

We discuss: general requirements of IT solution
We apply: proven methodologies and expertise for collecting requirements
You provide: subject matter experts on key issues

3

Brainstorm and select best potential solutions

Timeframe - individual

We present: potential solutions for your IT project
We provide: expertise in available technologies and recommendations for solutions and define implementation costs
You decide: which solution First Line will build and deliver

4

Define cooperation model + agreement on contract terms

1-2 weeks

We explore: cooperation models most suitable for you
We offer: proposals for various options
You choose: the most comfortable model for your company

5

Solution
development

individual

We discuss: detailed requirements for implementation
We activate: a team of exceptional developers and testers who use best-in-class methodologies
You receive: process transparency, regular demo versions, solution that meets your business objectives

6

Project acceptance, testing

individual

We review: whether the end deliverable meets the business objectives
We provide: solution release version, installation and configuration management services, staff training
You receive: IT-solution that achieves your business objective

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David Tedford
VICE PRESIDENT