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In this four-part series, Booz Allen examines the four features of the digital battlespace—open, smart, at the edge, and resilient and secure. Here in part two, we detail “smart”: technologies and new thinking to aggressively integrate, analyze, and leverage data to increase situational awareness.
Data is pouring in faster than military and national security operations can analyze it—requiring innovative technologies that can translate data into insights and deliver information to increase situational awareness. See how a suite of enabling technologies is helping the Department of Defense (DoD) gain information superiority and achieve overmatch.
According to the National Defense Strategy, accelerating DoD modernization programs is critical to stay ahead of near-peer competitors. And our military leaders understand that now, more than ever, information superiority is vital to our success on the battlefield. This means having the right information presented in the right way in the right place in real-time, so warfighters can take action faster than our adversaries.
However, the environment in the digital battlespace, the realm of information warfare, is complex and dynamic. Near-peer adversaries exploit vulnerabilities in their attempt to manipulate or compromise the very data our warfighters need to fulfill their mission. This contested, multidomain electronic environment presents many challenges in the quest to understand, analyze, and quickly act on data—in situations when the slightest error can have dire consequences.
So how can warfighters gain critical awareness and achieve overmatch against technologically advanced adversaries? Smart solutions, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), can prepare our servicemembers for the challenges ahead.
The Problem: The U.S. military is facing an explosion of data, and much of this data is trapped in silos or undiscoverable due to varying data platforms and formats. With an ever-increasing amount of raw data sources—from body-worn sensors to satellites and intelligence—feeding those platforms, it’s nearly impossible for all the users who could benefit from it to discover the right data in the right format in order to even begin to analyze it and create insights for warfighters.
The Smart Solution: Using an open, secure integrated network architecture to translate between existing data platforms, connect these platforms and tactical networks across domains—creating a federated data model enabling trusted sharing and advanced analytics at the edge. Having a common reference architecture enables services to choose the options needed to successfully execute the mission, while still retaining the custom data features each branch needs. Employing DataOps—a disciplined approach to analytics that parallels the agile, secure software approach to achieve the information flow required by this paradigm—improves access, data integration, quality, and accuracy. This allows for faster deployment of analytic models, more effective use of AI and ML, and improved data management.
The Result: The military will seamlessly collect, analyze, and integrate data across multiple organizational, classification, and functional networks—from enterprise to edge. Configured with a secure, trusted data platform on a common open architecture, this solution removes data from proprietary silos to enable advanced analytics and accelerate innovation.
The Problem: Data collection is fruitless if warfighters on the digital battlespace aren’t able to understand and act on its insights in an intuitive, efficient manner. Warfighters must remain focused on the mission, without the distraction of trying to understand and analyze a deluge of data from multiple technologies in their hands or headsets.
The Smart Solution: Accelerate analysis with AI and ML algorithms and plug-ins that are trained and continuously refined to identify, analyze, and deliver real-time data in the format needed. Using AI/ML, the solution analyzes relevant data and delivers it hands-free to the warfighter to improve decision making and increase situational awareness. Through heads-up displays (HUD) and other immersive technologies, warfighters receive the integrated benefits of the physical and virtual world. As for delivery, a secure cloud environment secures and protects data in every battlespace. Warfighters now have access to large sets of data for rapid decision making through automation of baseline configurations, encryption of data at rest, network traffic inspection and protection, identity and authentication services, and reporting mechanisms.
The Result: AI/ML reduces the cognitive load on the warfighter by understanding the data, analyzing it for mission needs, and making decisions for the warfighter, shortening the time it takes servicemembers to take effective action. Through immersive technologies, warfighters are equipped with real-time metrics and near-instantaneous sharing of data which create realistic battlespace features for use in training, planning, and rehearsal—while minimizing distraction.
The Problem: Complexities multiply at the tactical edge, where warfighters don’t have access to a common operating picture and are often facing adversarial attacks—both seen and unseen. Teams have limited access to connectivity, or none at all. Data cannot be transferred to the enterprise level for analysis without increasing vulnerability—and losing precious time—in a contested environment.
The Smart Solution: Provide robust data delivery through integrated data environments empowered by edge computing and protected by advanced cybersecurity. Each member of the small-combat team has a sensor processing unit allowing for AI-powered analytics at the tactical edge. Using technology that is already deployed on the front lines, mesh networks of smart devices transform the local communications environment. The federated data platform enables devices to transmit, process, and share information seamlessly in the field without the need for an off-battlefield cloud or data processing network.
The Result: Warfighters experience enhanced situational awareness by leveraging smart capabilities to create a continuously updated common operating picture with real-time data relevant to teams at the tactical edge. Sensors gather intel and enable near-instantaneous sharing and receiving of data. The battlefield network assists communication and gives command and control instant access to manned and unmanned vehicles, equipment, and sensors.
By integrating smart technologies, combining data science expertise with in-depth mission and domain knowledge, technical partners can help warfighters succeed. It’s time to give DoD the advantage in the digital battlespace—so our military can dominate the future of warfare.