Big data

Data mashups on a military scale

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What: A call for ideas on how to improve data crunching and analysis.

Why: With military adversaries growing more sophisticated, the Navy wants a big data and analytics capability to index and anticipate airborne, undersea, and cyber threats.

A recent call for white papers on big data and warfighting from the Office of Naval Research reads more like a Tom Clancy thriller than a contracting document. The Navy is looking to use its cloud platform to host big data applications that merge information from a variety of sensors and weapons systems with other tactical information to improve anti-submarine warfare, air and missile defense, cyber warfare readiness and other warfighting capabilities.

Historically, "the ability to merge these types of information to support tactical warfighting has been extremely limited," the ONR said. The deployment of the Naval Tactical Cloud Reference Implementation in recent years provides a platform for the Navy to host a powerful analytics tools to crunch tactical, environmental, and technical data from a range of sources to give warfighters new visibility into military threats.

ONR is hoping to use analytics to provide predictive, three-dimensional models on the movements and probable paths of enemy submarines, to gather improved classification and description of airborne threats like missiles, drones, and fighter planes, optimize information on weapons inventory and use, identify anomalous network activity to combat cyber threats, and conduct spectrum operations measurements to support frequency allocation in battle zones.

ONR plans to award a total of $28.5 million through fiscal 2019 in contracts and grants for basic applied research into enhancing the Navy's big data capabilities.

The challenges are divided into four "thrust areas" covering data representation, data ingestion and indexing, warfighting analytics, and cloud security. ONR is seeking solutions to technical challenges ranging from how to develop "small, self-contained data representations and ontologies" that can easily integrate with datasets across the Navy enterprise, improving the speed of data ingestion, developing analytics to improve threat detection accuracy and speed, and validating the data to protect the overall ecosystem from tampering or other cyber threats.

White papers are due to ONR by July 18. Navy evaluators will select a few ideas for development into full proposals. Those proposals will be due by Oct. 3, and final selections of proposals for funding will be completed by Oct 24.

Call for papers:

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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