Navy’s intell requires automated analytics

Navy’s intell requires automated analytics

As the military’s dependence on data grows, so does the task of sifting, analyzing and sharing the vast amounts of information coming in from signals, geospatial and human intelligence sources.

In order to keep intelligence analysts from drowning in data, the Navy needs a common networking architecture, according to the commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

"We have multiple stovepipes across the services and even within the Navy where a platform or a sensor will collect something … and it doesn't go into a common backbone where all of the analysts who need to access it can," Rear Adm. Elizabeth Train told FCW after her appearance at a Feb. 6 conference hosted by AFCEA's Washington, D.C., chapter in Pentagon City. FCW is a sister site to GCN.

The Navy, like other military services, is trying to make the most of its ever-increasing load of data. To do that, Train said, the service is looking for automated analytics tools from the private sector to help make data "more accessible and discoverable," and to make that data available to analysts more quickly after it is collected.

The big-data challenge comes at a momentous time for the Navy's work in "information dominance," or the use of all information domains, whether cyberspace or the electromagnetic spectrum, for warfighting.

The service recently established a formal information dominance command, which Train called the last organizational hurdle to codifying "information dominance capabilities as a war-fighting domain."

Previously there was no single Navy command responsible for every field that falls under information dominance – such as cryptology, information warfare and network operations.

One of the Navy's hubs for intelligence integration is a 24/7 center within ONI for supporting global maritime missions. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data fed into the maritime center support the Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Administration and State Department in addition to the Navy, Train said.

In addition to that, the Navy is working closely with the National Reconnaissance Office to sort through and analyze massive sets of data for intelligence purposes.

That work is all part of Train's checklist for improving naval intelligence, challenges that are not all technological. Speaking of the need to solidify a common IT architecture for disseminating ISR data, she told FCW, "it's probably going to be a more cultural process than it is the actual hardware.”

This article first appeared on FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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Reader Comments

Wed, Feb 11, 2015 Tara Schott United States

What the Navy needs is Embedded Analytics. A way to add an analytical layer into existing infrasturcture & existing applications. It's targeted information to support a decision or action in the CONTEXT in which that decision or action takes place. There's not enough time or money to rip & replace existing technology, nor change the way the Navy codes. Actuate BIRT is the #1 Embedded Analytics solution according to analysts. Lightening fast. Secure. Scalable.

Tue, Feb 10, 2015

This seems a bit confusing to me. With all of the advancements in technology, the database search engine is one of the most basic designs. If they are looking for a way to make data more easily accessible I would suggest that (as the military is well known for) they create a standard working code that is used to upload the data. This would be such that if there are say 20 points of evidence in a John Smith case, that each be uploaded labeled with something to the effect of JBS-1-2-15. This would identify the case, the number of the item and the date. This would not just go for investigators either. If for instance John Smith was promoted to the rank of E-5, the data would be uploaded using something to the effect of JBS-0001-10-12-2-15. This would identify John Smith, his last four of his social, BASD, and date of rank. The reason I entered so much for this is due to a sick call appointment that I had made, but when I arrived, the appointment was for a LTC. It seemed the first initial of his last name and last four of his social were identical to mine. Using this much of an identifier would narrow the information down. Using the search engine by searching for JBS would provide all users with JBS, but by narrowing it down with the last four of his social would provide a list of everything that was in the system on him. This seems fairly simplistic to me.

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