The U.S. Department of Defense is seeing the nation’s adversaries use capabilities better than the American military, but change is underway. In particular, the Army recognizes that it must dust off some of its aging procurement processes and leverage commercial technology to regain an advantage over its enemies, said Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, USA, the Army’s chief information officer/G-6, at the MILCOM 2017 conference in Baltimore.
Data stored “in silos” is not providing a fluid, agile stream of information that the DOD needs to perform everyday missions. While data may successfully be generated, getting the needed information “in the right hands at the right time” is a challenge the DOD is facing.
We’ve all seen those scenes in spy movies where intelligence analysts scrutinize a photograph, looking at the buildings, the plants, vehicles or visible wildlife to deduce where the picture was taken because, of course, doing so is critical to discovering the bad guy’s whereabouts and saving the planet. In real-life, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Finder program, detailed in my August article "Tag Teaming Big Data," is designed to help analysts locate non-geotagged imagery, whether photographs or video.
U.S. Defense Department data will be invading the commercial world as the department moves its unclassified information out of its own hands. Terry Halvorsen, acting Defense Department chief information officer, described the upcoming move at the Wednesday luncheon of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium, being held June 24-25 in Baltimore.
Researchers are working on a computer that just could soon do the thinking for humans. Computers today, while advanced, still mostly perform calculating functions using a central processing unit and memory that stores both a program and data, taking direction from the program and data from memory to function. Sandia National Laboratories researchers are developing “neuro-inspired” computing systems to work basically like human brains. They could detect patterns and anomalies to computing solutions.
The late Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, USN (Ret.), looks over my shoulder as I work in my home office. His picture graced the May 2003 cover of SIGNAL Magazine, highlighting an article Clarence A. Robinson Jr., wrote based on an interview with the admiral. I was lucky enough to escort SIGNAL’s freelance photographer to take the photo of Adm. Cebrowski when he led the charge for change as the director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Force Transformation. I received a cover photo plaque that hangs in my home office for my effort, though it really wasn’t necessary.
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, government agencies came under widespread criticism for failing to share information and "connect the dots." By contrast, law enforcement agencies were almost universally praised following the Boston Marathon bombing and the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., both of which took place last year, pointed out panelists at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
The National Weather Service is the granddaddy of open source data, according to Adrian Gardner, chief information officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). And, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was "into big data before big data was cool," added David McClure, a data asset portfolio analyst within the NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer. The two officials made their comments during a panel on big data analytics at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.
North Carolina (NC) State University has announced a new partnership with the National Security Agency (NSA) to create the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences (LAS) on the university’s Centennial Campus. The lab will bring together personnel from government, academia and industry to address the most challenging big data problems and will be a cornerstone of the emerging advanced data innovation hub at NC State.
Gray Research Inc. of Huntsville, Ala., is being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract modification under contract W9113M-05-D-0003. The total ceiling award value is increased by $21,886,024 from $222,609,913 to $244,495,937. Under this IDIQ contract, the contractor will continue performing work under its previously competitively awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract, W9113M-05-D-0003, providing data management services for the Missile Defense Data Center Program. The Missile Defense Agency, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity.
Top information technology officials from a variety of government agencies identified cloud computing, mobile devices and edge technologies as the technologies that will be critical for accomplishing their missions in the future.
Luke McCormack, chief information officer, Justice Department, cited cloud-as-a-service as vital to the future. He urged industry to continue to push the barriers of stack computing, and he mentioned edge technology as an emerging technology. “Edge is going to be really critical to perform missions,” he said. He cited the Google Glass project as an indicator of what the future will bring.
Claraview, a division of Teradata, Reston, Virginia, was awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract not-to-exceed ceiling price of $27,016,520 for continuation of system life cycle support services for data management/enterprise data warehouse/business intelligence environments. The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is the contracting activity.
Jacobs Technologies Incorporated, Tampa, Florida, is being awarded a $139 million contract for information technology service management in support of U.S. Special Operations Command. The contractor will provide information technology support services to assist the command's information technology management office with the management of the enterprise networks, data management, distributed computing, specialty services, application management, communications, evolutionary technology insertion and other aspects of the command information enterprise.
As organizations migrate more data into public clouds, demands for a different type of security are emerging. A specialized option is available now for Amazon Web Services that aims to mitigate threats more quickly by finding them faster and suggesting methods of remediation.
Known as the Evident Security Platform for Amazon Web Services (ESP for AWS), the technology offers a solution expressly designed for the Amazon environment. It has a rapid deployment of five minutes or less and gives a dashboard view of identified threats. In the first week it launched, 50 companies of various sizes signed on for the platform, including several large, multinational corporations.
Where human analysis might fail in the intelligence community, technological solutions are at the ready to fill the void. Companies are ginning up software programs that can prove to be key for intelligence analysts as they track the bad guys, so to speak—be they insider threats or an outside enemy.
The amount of data produced in the increasingly connected and virtual world makes it difficult for human beings to scour, catalog and process and mounting information and produce actionable intelligence. So industry is devising technological workarounds or complementary programs to ease the workload and make their efforts more effective.
Mining big data for salient information points presents a plethora of challenges, but in Europe a different issue with the action has emerged as a concern. Regulations prohibiting researchers and others from searching through the data in certain documents are putting countries on the continent at a competitive disadvantage in a number of fields, studies are revealing. With several economies there already in dire straits, the legal encumbrances could add to difficulties in improving financial situations.
Two closely related science and technology programs aim to improve image location and search capabilities, saving intelligence analysts significant time and effort.
U.S. intelligence analysts often must wade through enormous amounts of imagery—both photographs and videos—to uncover the exact information needed. To make matters worse, data often does not contain geolocation tags, which indicate where the images were taken.
Technology innovations, new roles and expanding missions are shaping the move toward big data in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. A mix of tradecraft and technology is ensuing as the agency evolves from an organization that always has worked with voluminous imagery files to one in which big data represents a goal that promises to change many aspects of intelligence.
U.S. Army officials envision a future in which ground and air platforms share data and where soldiers at a remote forward-operating base easily can access information from any sensor in the area, including national satellites or reconnaissance aircraft flying overhead. To achieve this big data vision, the service has initiated three pilot projects designed to provide Google-style access in a tactical environment to the lowest echelon without overwhelming soldiers with unnecessary data.
Virtualization and cloud implementation are critical components of information technology planning, acquisition and management going forward. Cloud implementations are important to security, efficiency, effectiveness, cost savings and more pervasive information sharing, particularly among enterprises. Cloud architectures also are extremely important for more effective use of mobile technologies. Mobility increasingly is important, particularly for the military, which needs a full range of information technology services while on the move. Yet increased movement to the cloud, along with traditional uses of spectrum, are putting unprecedented demands on every part of the spectrum.