Emerging Tech

Coast Guard taps DOD's AI group

AI and data (Andrey Suslov/Shutterstock.com) 

The Coast Guard is working with the Defense Department to leverage artificial intelligence to help crack the huge amounts of mission data and maintain its aircraft, one of the Coast Guard's top IT officials said.

A few months ago, the Coast Guard sent an employee to the Pentagon to work in the DOD's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), Capt. Michael Dickey, commander of the Coast Guard's C4IT Service Center, said at an May 21 AFCEA Bethesda panel.

Although the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, its aircraft and ocean-going missions have more in common with the military than with DHS, Dickey said.

"We're looking see how do a better job doing predictive maintenance for aircraft, helicopters in particular," he told FCW after his presentation.

Dickey said the Coast Guard also wants to find ways to leverage the ocean of data those aircraft and its ships generate in their multiple roles.

"There is there is some potential for humanitarian applications" of the mission data, "but very easy to think ahead for DOD application is our ships, aircraft and sensors and all of the data that they collect," he said.  

"Right now, what we and DOD do, is collect gigabytes of data on a mission. We just dump it when mission is done. We haven't built out the systems to retain the data, and we don't have systems that are capable of using the data afterward. We're collecting all this awesome data. Let's keep it and do something useful with it."

Those missions include the Coast Guard's search and rescue operations and its marine environmental protection work. "There's so much that we are collecting. If only we had the means to analyze it, we could understand a lot more about our maritime domain awareness on our coasts," he said.

JAIC launched at the end of 2018 to help the agency and armed forces use AI to go up against a growing host of data-dense issues, including helicopter maintenance programs.

DOD CIO Dana Deasy said in an April 23 speech that JAIC has two deliveries ongoing and plans for more.

So far, JAIC has released the first version of an algorithm to help with H60 Blackhawk maintenance to the Special Operations Command that will then head to the Army, Air Force and Navy. It is also working on solutions to help firefighters predict a fire's movements and intensity and aid humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, like California's wildfires.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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