Navy rethinks its approach to collecting, sharing data

As it patrols Persian Gulf waters, the Navy is finding information collection and sharing among its main challenges, said the assistant deputy chief of naval operations for information, plans and strategy.

There are multiple wrinkles to these challenges, Rear Adm. Peter Daly told a gathering of the Northern Virginia chapter of AFCEA on  June 8.

One involves the sheer level of information being retrieved from the boarding of suspicious vessels. “We’re changed our approach,” Daly said. “Boarding parties used to be armed to the teeth and behaved like it was a police shakedown.”

Instead, the Navy has been taking a friendlier, more conversational approach. Consequently, the amount of information retrieved from boarding has increased exponentially, from an average of 14K per boarding to 76M.

“They’re not building fiber-optic cables out to carriers,” Daly quipped. “The bandwidth limitation is challenging. We need to get to where every crew can operate in a two-way secret environment. They also need the authority to collect and access biometric data when they encounter suspected terrorists.”

The Navy also must figure out a better method of sharing maritime domain information with coalition partners and the Coast Guard. Daly said the British Navy primarily is responsible for patrolling the Shatt al-Arab waterway and the northern Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy operates in the center, and the French Navy is responsible for the southern part of the gulf and out to the Arabian Sea.

“The Navy and Coast Guard are working through information exchange issues,” Daly said.

At this point the information is deposited in a shared database that is not online. The goal is to create a Web portal at which users post and retrieve maritime domain information.

“The point is to deny the maritime environment to the bad guys,” Daly said. “We need to understand patterns of changes to the maritime environment in context. We need help moving the data, especially the first and last mile, and we need ideas on how to share that information with our partners.”

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