DARPA plans tools to lighten load of battlefield data

Insight program launched to aid analysts

Today's soldiers and the analysts who support them suffer from an embarrassment of riches. The constant flow of battlefield sensor data from space, aerial and ground-based sensor platforms provides an unsurpassed view of the battlefield.

But many of these platforms cannot easily share or mix information such as video and radar data, and human operators are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Insight program plans to create an automated system that helps human analysts by blending together sensor feeds from a variety of platforms and sources. The agency’s announcement noted that the lack of an automatic exploitation and cross cueing capability for multi intelligence sources is a major shortfall for current intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

The shortcomings of current ISR platforms and systems include a lack of automated tools to interpret, edit and weave data streams into a form useful to human analysts. According to the solicitation, vital information is often lost or overlooked due to the overwhelming flow of incoming data. A lack of integrated human-machine reasoning tools limits the ability of system to use operators’ knowledge and ability to understand complex data.

Insight plans to address these shortcomings by developing a next-generation ISR Exploitation and Resource Management system. The program will build on several areas. The first is model-based correlation using behavioral modeling and threat networks analysis tools to automatically combine data across sources and manage random and uncertain events.

DARPA plans to build resource management tools to identify data collection opportunities, permitting the efficient use and selection of a variety of sensors and platforms for each mission. A unified data management and processing environment will allow the rapid integration of new data sources, algorithms and analysis methods. Finally, the effort seeks to integrate human and machine processing in areas such as visualization, hypothesis manipulation and online learning.

The program’s E&RM system research has three parts: an analysis and resource management system, a unified all-source ISR human-machine interface, and an integration, processing and data archive environment. The analysis and resource management component will develop a range of information analysis and sensor management tools and their underlying algorithms, while the goal of the ISR human-machine interface is to develop a “modern human-computer interface that is an adaptable, customizable, context aware, unified interface capable of supporting dynamic, interactive missions.” Besides developing a variety of interface tools, this part of the program also seeks to conduct core research into enhancing human-computer interaction.

The last component, the integration, processing and data archive environment, will serve as a unified data source for all data processing. According to DARPA it will provide a distributed environment for visualization and computing resources, rapidly integrate new algorithms and manage existing ones.

To evaluate the results of the E&RM system, DARPA will develop the Insight Test Bed. The test bed will have three components, a physical test bed, a virtual environment to evaluate ISR exploitation systems with simulated sensor data, and a development incubator designed to lower the cost of entry and increase the number of program participants. The incubator also will serve as a repository for all of the program’s collected, simulated and processed data.

By combining Insight’s E&RM system and the test bed, DARPA hopes to “provide the unprecedented capability to rapidly and cost-effectively develop and demonstrate novel approaches to agile ISR system evolution.”

DARPA also plans to link Insight to other related sensor and data fusion programs, such as Wide Area Network Detection, Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance, Video and Image Retrieval and Analysis Tool, Persistent Stare Exploitation and Analysis System and the Graph Understanding and Analysis for Rapid Detection – Deployed On the Ground (GUARD DOG).

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group