By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Madison, WI, May 4, 2016 - After the first plane hit the World Trade Center, Nekoosa native Harry Blount and his co-workers fled their building, just across the street. Blount stood on the sidewalk looking up as the second plane hit.

"One of the things about 9/11 that transformed me is I realized if people had better access to information, they could make better decisions in general," said Blount, who left New York several years later and is now running a start-up company in San Francisco.

If all of the relevant data had been collected and analyzed — the previous attempts on the World Trade Center, the fact that non-pilots were taking commercial pilot training classes — the events of 9/11 might have been predicted, Blount said.

Blount will speak Thursday at a lunch meeting of the CFA Society of Milwaukee about how his start-up, Discern Group Inc., mines public data and applies algorithms to find signals that investors can use to make more informed decisions. Discern raised $20 million of venture capital funding in September in a round led by Palo Alto-based Artiman Ventures.

"In an ideal world, to make the best decision you'd have all the information in one place," Blount said. "You would have persistent processes to continually scan and monitor data asking questions investors care about and you would get notified immediately when the answer to a question was identified."

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