Author – Jay Jesse – CEO, Intelligent Software Solutions
Defense sector programs and research—from the Internet itself to applications like Apple’s Siri—often manifest in paradigm-changing innovation. In the Big Data arena, military applications are high stakes: for example, the urgency of harnessing massive amounts of data—in different formats and from wildly different sources—to model and pinpoint terrorist and criminal activity across the globe. From this arena, new applications and best practices are emerging that will result in gains far beyond their military and intelligence community origins. Here are three ways that military initiatives will show the private sector how to get more out of Big Data programs.
Threat Analysis Becomes Opportunity Analysis
Public safety and antiterrorism agencies need clear and succinct pictures of the crime and security environment: What is happening, where is it happening, and why? To gain this view, they leverage massive amounts of high-quality, synthesized, actionable information for applications such as proactive policing of urban trouble spots (civilian) or using collection and analysis to find and neutralize makers of IEDs (military).
Defense sector vendors have led the way in enabling analysts to rapidly perform complex searches across any data source—structured and unstructured databases, spreadsheets, mobile data, RSS feeds and documents—and quickly make visual sense of them in both space and time with geospatial displays, hotspot maps and timelines, just to name a few.
“Actionable intelligence” is a high-stakes deliverable in the police and military arenas. But it is not that difficult to make the leap from “suspect” to “customer” to see how understanding future behavior in multiple dimensions will help product makers and marketers see and spot opportunities, rather than threats.
Being able to spot trends, draw links and make connections between demographic groups, behavior patterns and actual geographic markets from what was previously a pile of disconnected and disorganized data sources has huge potential. This potential is already being leveraged in consumer contexts. Especially when we consider the importance of visualization and location in determining how, where and why consumer enterprises must marshal their production, distribution, marketing and sales resources against sophisticated competitors.
While the stakes aren’t as high as they are in comparison to the global counterterrorism theater, they’re high enough to justify pinpointing where resources are most needed, enabling decision makers to deliver the greatest operational impact, reducing inefficiency and waste and optimizing limited resources. This is where DoD leads the way.
Mobile Command Makes the 21st Century’s Ultimate “Street Team”
An incident such as a bombing throws an urban area into pandemonium as public safety commanders, analysts and field operators scramble to assess damage, help survivors and search for clues about the perpetrators.
Today’s field command technology must provide these vital personnel with relevant data while en route and at the scene, viewing the information they need on the move and uploading scene information back to command control—all securely shared via Wi-Fi, cellular data or satellite—using a wide variety of devices and media. The expanding real-time operational picture they create together drives faster, better decision making, speeding the time from a state of chaos to a state of control and setting the stage for investigations that lead to justice as pictures, videos and other evidence from the scene flood into the hands of analysts.
Critical incident response management systems developed for the DoD will set the global baseline for private sector applications where anybody from large-scale event producers to experiential marketers find they can gain a competitive edge from the ability to seamlessly and securely report, collect, store and retrieve operational intel.
Team members can capture, relay and organize event data with sophistication never before seen, quickly associating all incoming media in a master analysis engine. The public safety crisis solution of today sets the stage for the sophisticated, real-time event logistics and marketing mobile apps of tomorrow.
Enterprise Search Finds Better Needles in Bigger Haystacks
From finding opportunities in sales data that helps craft better strategy to loss prevention initiatives, Big Data is undergoing rapid evolution and delivering more exciting results in both the private and defense sectors. The defense sector can speed gains in the area of data acquisition and enterprise search—the gateway enablers to the fruits of big data.
By accounting for volume, variety and velocity, we equip business analysts and leaders to “shrink the haystack,” establishing a data processing ecosystem that can process, enable search and allow users to interact with the data in fruitful ways, rather than being overwhelmed and in the dark. The end result is better and precise decision-making through superior insight by revealing threats and opportunities that had previously been invisible in a mass of data.
The first stage of enabling these gains is to pull all information into a common environment so that it can be pushed through an analysis pipeline. DoD vendors contending with massive amounts of data have led the way in fashioning connector architecture, normalizing and staging data, and compartmentalizing it into usable subsets.
Defense sector solution providers then developed customized search and discovery systems that empowered analysts to thin the haystack in search of the valuable data needles they sought. NLP (natural language processing)-driven semantic enrichment represents a further refining and enhancement of the search experience, setting the stage for deeper analytics. Search and NLP are the one-two punch that fuses what the analyst knows with what he or she doesn’t know, allowing users to constantly tune and refine smaller subsets of data for key factors. The system “learns” as the user refines their searches to better target their data domain, constantly improving search effectiveness.
It began with counterterrorism experts looking for a particular piece of equipment involved in bomb-making, but has equal power for financial analysts trying to isolate a particular kind of transaction and yield profitable insight for their companies. The data integration and enterprise search achievements of defense sector vendors are paving the way for more fruitful Big Data results across the world.
These are just three areas where defense sector technology gains translated into benefits for the private sector. I’ll explore more of this landscape in the future.