Investigators performing computer forensics can now do their jobs from the beach—or anywhere else. An emerging technology eliminates the need for experts to have hardware in hand before examining a system and works around legalities that prohibit the transport of information across borders. The technology has applications across law enforcement, the military, the intelligence community and private industry.
The U.S. Air National Guard is using a data mining and analysis tool to keep track of everything from jet engines to personnel qualifications. The software package allows users to access and compile information from a variety of sources, offering the ability to conduct high-level analysis or in-depth study of a specific unit's readiness. The technology will soon enter service with the U.S. Army National Guard and U.S. Air Force Reserve.
The key to understanding and processing information may lie not in new technologies or advanced system architectures, but instead in the secret of effective storytelling. It also might be found just as easily in the classification of ideas, in the semantics of the Web, or even in the ability to pass personal lessons learned on to others. Or, this key could be an as-yet undiscovered aspect of knowledge management that only now is emerging in this information age.
The restructuring of U.S. troops into small, agile fighting forces and the multinational, multicultural nature of today's decision making military teams are adding entirely new dimensions to knowledge management and collaboration in the military. Command and control decision makers must discard the strategies that worked for large forces prepared to fight on a designated front line and explore new tactics. Concurrently, they find themselves working in a collaborative environment rife with language barriers, experiential differences and hidden agendas. Technology can help break through some of these barriers, so researchers are examining team decision-making dynamics so they can determine which knowledge management tools are likely to be most effective.
A broad-based initiative underway in the U.S. Defense Department aims to ensure that all of the data amassed and processed in the future battlespace truly can become useful knowledge to all U.S. forces. This effort is trying to make all data sources, correlators and user interfaces resident on the defense network so that a user could select those best suited for his or her requirements.
Force transformation and ongoing military operations are both complementing and competing for new information technology system development. Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are validating many concepts and technologies, but requirements emerging from those fronts threaten to derail intricate long-term plans for modernizing the force across network-centric lines.
Professionals often find solutions that repeatedly prove successful. By documenting these best-of-breed approaches, experts are now able to develop working taxonomies of patterns of success. Known as knowledge patterns, these resources will result in an array of tools to help conduct audits, develop strategies and make decisions.
The U.S. Army is putting the power of Web technology behind its transformation into a knowledge-based force. The effort aims at improving the decision dominance of individual soldiers and the Army as a whole by sharing information and making its cumulative expertise a powerful instrument.
The solution to information overload may lie in one of the key contributors to the phenomenon. Recently developed software now can address the complementary issues of managing data and making it more useful. Personnel at the U.S. Joint Forces Command Joint Experimentation Directorate are exploring systems that could transform military engagement methodology and usher in decision-based operations.
New technologies that increase the ability to process and enhance text documents are giving a badly needed boost to intelligence experts fighting terrorists and their weapons of mass destruction. Many of these technologies are being employed overseas on the battlegrounds of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in the pursuit of terrorists in other countries.