Edge computing accelerates strategic decision making for today’s modern missions. How? By putting data and information into the hands of warfighters, medical professionals, first responders, and others, even in the most remote environments.
Quick, data-driven decision making is at the heart of mission success. The ability to collect and analyze data in the field—on mobile devices, wearables, vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, or other operational platforms—is nothing short of game-changing for defense IT decision makers, those responsible for field operations, and individuals on the front lines.
Here are three ways that edge computing is transforming government.
1. Edge computing allows data to be acted on beyond the IT enterprise.
Out in the field, with limited ability to receive intelligence from central command, individuals often must rely only on instinct to guide them. Carrying out critical missions without full situational awareness risks safety and survivability.
Once simply defined as computing and processing at the edge of the IT enterprise, edge computing has evolved to mean the technology and digital platforms that enable data access at the point of data collection—at the “tactical edge” with the devices themselves. This new communications framework empowers those on the ground with the data and analysis they need to make fast, informed decisions on the fly.
This truly transforms what’s possible in areas including defense, humanitarian assistance, and disaster recovery missions—reaching all the way from central command to the frontline vehicle, device, tank, ship, plane, or other sensor a person is carrying.
2. Edge computing enables faster, decentralized decision making.
Without waiting for validation from central command or a distant server, the edge computing framework can shorten the time from data to decisions so warfighters can make informed choices.
With the power of processing and compute at the tactical edge, soldiers and first responders have instant access to the latest data and intelligence. It’s at their fingertips to make safe and strategic real-time decisions, regardless of whether they are on or off the grid. In critical situations, this not only saves time—it could well make the difference between life and death.
Booz Allen recommends a platform approach to edge computing, in which devices transmit, process, and share information seamlessly in the field through a mesh network. For enterprise impact, we work with organizations to deploy vendor-agnostic, interoperable sensors across a connected spectrum—decreasing the data-to-decision chain and maintaining situational awareness for the entire operation.
In this new model, in which frontline platforms can process and compute data on the ground there’s no more need to wait for central command to provide critical information, and intermittent connectivity doesn’t compromise any individual’s success or safety.
3. Edge computing is a force multiplier.
As missions continue to modernize, edge computing’s real power lies in how it can network a broader ecosystem. When all available platforms can communicate with each other, edge computing becomes a force multiplier.
The value of networking is already evident in advanced data systems the U.S. military uses today. For example, the nation’s F-35 fleet uses sensors installed on each aircraft. The sensors connect and communicate through an advanced data platform, sharing environmental data with each other.
When flying in a squadron of four or eight jets, the platform distributes a single picture of data—right from the edge. Shared sensor data results in a uniform analysis and high-fidelity information, more complete than any one aircraft could gather on its own.
The U.S. Army is now testing this same networking concept, but with the millions of boots on the ground. Small, connected sensors that travel with soldiers are enabling local data sharing and processing across network participants. In mission operations, more points of data capture translate into faster, better-informed field squads—and through edge computing principles this framework can help ensure overmatch and safety.
Mission Success at the Tactical Edge
Transformation through edge computing requires a sophisticated approach to a new technical architecture. When developing an overarching strategy, existing hardware and devices, data processing, analytics, networking, and the mission itself need to be considered.
As a full-service partner offering an integrated and enterprise approach to edge computing, Booz Allen is ready to help organizations achieve mission success at the tactical edge. With the right tools and expertise, organizations can successfully integrate and deploy edge computing across an enterprise of platforms and systems.