What Does the Intelligence Community Really Want?

September 18, 2014
By Rita Boland

Developers to understand their needs and fill their requests. Early.

The intelligence community is striving to determine how it can work with industry early, before requirements for capabilities are confirmed, to get out ahead of challenges. Leaders want to adopt technology in some of the first phases rather than at the end. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is looking to standardize capabilities across the intelligence community, determining how its many members can collaborate.

David Honey, director for science and technology, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for science and technology, ODNI, said that technology developers need to consider the environments in which their products will operate for them to be effective for customers. Honey made his remarks to a crowd of biometrics professional at the Global Identity Summit today in Tampa. Environment includes technical and contextual demands.

Technically, developers should look at cloud and collaboration tools. Members of the workforce increasingly expect applications to connect into them. These younger employees anticipate capabilities that work together at the software level.

In terms of context, understanding challenges faced by the intelligence community will help in the creation of necessary solutions. Honey explained that the community tends to focus on individuals, but has come to realize groups need attention. The first questions asked after a terrorist event are: Who did it?; What group are they part of?; and, What will they be in the future?

The United States also must come to grips with the fact that many technologies will be developed overseas and so available to many parties, reducing U.S. advantages. Similarly, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear activities are expanding even to countries never expected to acquire such capabilities. Hand-in-hand with that concern is worry about proliferation, because many of those countries have no qualms sharing and selling their technology.

Finally, homegrown violent extremists need to be curbed. As the threat evolves, identification and identification science become more complex for the intelligence community, Honey said.

Looking to the future of biometrics, he sees several trends. One is the fusion of biometrics technologies that existed in the past with new science. The field also is moving toward more behavioral analytics coupled with identity as well as how studying how groups affect individual behaviors and how to perform analytics to address those effects. Biometrics professionals additionally need to prepare for the distortion of identities, which already is occurring.

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