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Moving Toward Data at Flank Speed

The Navy’s Program Executive Office (PEO) responsible for the service’s command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I), delivers to the fleet its communications, networks and other systems of strategic value. Therefore, leveraging data is crucial for these San Diego-based teams.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is maximize our utilization of the Navy’s flank speed environment and that entails our ability to really wrangle legacy data, how it’s been documented or not documented,” said Becky Jones, deputy technical director at PEO C4I.

“One of the challenges is having a solid data framework that we can really instill a solid plan for data security, data access, ensuring the right people have access, making sure that we have privacy in place at the data element level and a model that ensures that we can provide the data seamlessly to the user quickly without running into those security barriers,” Jones told SIGNAL Media in an interview.

Similar to the wider DoD level, the Navy works on making data available for others to capitalize on in a way that influences their specific mission. Therefore, preparing the information is the current priority.

“In many cases, we’re having to do the grunt work or the foundational steps,” Jones said, adding that more than 80% of the work with data is related to cleaning and labeling.

The office works with data that it has recently leveraged to support business functions and anticipate where technical problems may escalate.

“We’re most excited where the PEO C4I is really at the leading edge, in some of our fleet support data, specifically looking at [casualty report] predictions, being able to look at when a system breaks, being able to evaluate those trouble tickets and predict when they’re going to escalate into the need to send a tech representative out to support the fleet directly,” Jones offered. This means Jones’ office can predict with a high degree of accuracy how to address an issue that arises that could potentially degrade the capabilities of a platform.

This office supports feats like secure data transmission that will later be used to create other tools to improve the Navy’s readiness.

“On a recent two-week pre-deployment exercise, a fully manned aircraft carrier transferred over 100 TB [terabytes] of data while at sea to support nontactical use cases. This data supported quality of work and quality of life applications such as pay, medical, college programs, training, parts and logistics,” Jones detailed.

This information feeds the Navy’s Flank Speed environment, a Microsoft capability that operates on Azure Cloud services to cover business demands and process automation.

Jones laid out that the PEO’s leadership demanded better and wider use of AI.

“If you don’t have a senior leader asking, demanding the results of those models, or putting up the dashboards, then you’re not going to generate and create that change,” Jones said.

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