Government Must Bridge the Gaps of Disparate Data
To share or comment
on this article go to
Rapidly evolving commercial solutions are having a large ffect on how the intelligence community collects, pro- cesses and analyzes data to gain improved strategic agil- ity. Enhanced reactive and predictive awareness will
allow the United States to engage with global partners successfully while out-maneuvering adversaries at home and abroad.
But for this to work, the U.S. government must challenge the status quo, stop
accepting incremental change and push
a cultural shift in policy.
Today, U.S. national security faces a challenging environment with the entry of nontraditional players demonstrating new methods of attacks with substantial effect. The
distinction between foreign and domestic intelligence has
blurred, forcing the United States to engage with numerous
global partners. The new environment requires a compressed
decision-making cycle and accurate assessment of the root
causes that drive extremism. Decision makers need shared
situational awareness that is manageable, yet provides maximum data input for optimal decisions. Processes must be
streamlined by systems that are agile, flexible and scalable
and empower users not only at command level but also at the
Fragmented systems that are unable to provide common
operating pictures effectively between agencies hinder information sharing, forcing the defense and intelligence communities to strive toward a globally networked and integrated
enterprise for an incisive decision-making advantage over
adversaries. Defense and intelligence agencies need integrated processing, analysis and dissemination architectures
that move information quickly among the correct users.
Innovative knowledge management systems developed today
have the ability to break down existing barriers and address
the changing paradigm. Their geospatial collection, fusion,
analytical and dissemination capabilities allow raw multi-source data to become powerful, actionable intelligence.
Data must be penetrating, rich and transparent and
ingested from multiple sources—both disparate and processed. Mobile application components enable human operators to become multimedia sensors, providing a way to transmit data securely in real time back to a headquarters element.
Pairing these tools with capabilities such as satellite communications allows for data transmission in even the most
austere environments. Phone configurations provide a degree
of obscurity for operators in areas where electronic transmissions are monitored, actions observed or phones inspected.
User alert capabilities increase the safety of users in the field.
These mobile solutions are proving to be extremely intuitive,
which empowers users with a range of technical knowledge.
In addition to collection done by humans, the systems can
adapt and integrate multiple collection systems. The collection
of field data can be further fused in one view with a variety
of common sensor feeds such as license plate recognition,
unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unattended ground sensors, biometrics, and narcotics and explosives detectors. Built
with a modular, open architecture design, the system easily can
integrate a variety of industry standard sensor technologies.
Advancements in areas such as optical character recognition
algorithms for sensors in UAVs create an automated reduction
in data cross-matching turnaround. Given the ever-increasing
use of social media, valuable, targeted data also can be gleaned
from the public realm and fused with agency-collected data.
With the ability to rapidly digest and geospatially visualize
this data in one common view, information can be disseminated across all stakeholders in a manner that is understandable, manageable and actionable. Further data mining can be
employed for predictive analysis in risk anticipation. Informa-tion-driven decisions and action plans can be transmitted in
real time back to the ground, and agencies can track geospatial movement of their assets to deploy resources effectively.
Effectively fused data can be compiled in a common format
and distributed for further analysis. The desired objective is to
provide a seamless view of intelligence information, tools and
processes across agencies and partners in a world where information is our most powerful asset.
To affect change, the government needs increased acceptance and willingness to engage with such technologies. Commercial off-the-shelf solutions fuse with current business systems with minimal effect on the enterprise, allowing for the
systems to overlay and integrate dissimilar platforms that span
agencies. Security features allow for information sharing while
protecting intelligence data to prevent exploitation of security
vulnerabilities, complementing and bridging gaps in current
business systems and reducing the need for traditionally high-sustainment-cost communications and legacy systems.
Ever-decreasing budgets, barriers between agencies and
business systems that are not interoperable constrain movement toward workable solutions. Procurement of technology
remains a cumbersome process surrounded by political com-plexities. The government remains focused on costly propriety programs of record that cannot respond to rapid change.
The U.S. government must challenge the current model; stop
accepting incremental change; and impel a cultural shift in
policy and approach to outwit adversaries. Agencies not only
need to define appropriate methods for long-term planning
and budgeting but also to establish a means for rapid response
procurement of solutions to meet mission-critical needs.
Game-changing solutions break down the barriers to
intra-agency and partner exchange of timely information,
reducing agency and functional silos of poor visibility
and allowing true situational awareness and intra-agency
Tiffany Moriarty Roth is the Field Information Support Tool
(FIST) program manager at NOVA Corporation in support of
the U.S. Defense Department. The views stated in this column
are hers alone and do not represent the views or opinions of
the U.S. government or NOVA Corporation.
Tiffany Moriarty Roth,