by Chris Young
Harvard Business Review | 2:00 PM September 20, 2012
For soldiers in the field, immediate access to — and accurate interpretation of — real-time imagery and intelligence gathered by drones, satellites, or ground-based sensors can be a matter of life and death.
Capitalizing on big data is a high priority for the U.S. military. The rise in unmanned systems and the military's increasing reliance on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technologies have buried today's soldiers and defense professionals under a mountain of information. Since 9/11 alone, the amount of data captured by drones and other surveillance technology has increased a jaw-dropping 1,600%. And this avalanche of data will only increase, since the number of computing devices the Armed Services have in play is expected to double by 2020.
Rising to this challenge, defense companies have made major strides in image processing and analysis. Companies like our own have deployed technologies and software solutions for troops in Afghanistan that help soldiers quickly make sense of imagery and video feeds captured by unmanned systems flying overhead. And we are working on enhancing such technologies to decrease the lag time between gathering and interpreting data.
Phi Beta Iota: First you have to collect the right stuff. Then you have to process all of it in real-time or near-real time, and feed all of that into a SINGLE all-source fusion database, not the 80 stovepipes we have now. Finally, you have to have reliable bandwidth and enough of it.