Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Monday, June 24, 2024

Think Tank to UK Military: Use Big Data or Face Failure 

The UK military is at risk at being left in the technological dust if it doesn’t develop and adopt big data analytics into its processes & culture warned the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in a statement released on Friday.

Pitching a new white paper called “Big Data for Defence and Security,” RUSI, a defense and security think tank cautioned that the consequences of not dealing effectively with the data challenges that the UK military is facing today could potentially lead to loss of life and operational failure.

“The intelligence world already collects more raw data than it can analyze with perhaps as much as 95 percent of imagery never being viewed by analysts,” said RUSI in a statement, adding that one MQ-9 Reaper sortie collects the equivalent of up to twenty laptops’ worth of data that has to be analyzed retrospectively, missing the opportunity for real time intelligence.

The report, co-sponsored by storage giant, EMC, recommends a series of actions that the Ministry of Defense (MoD) should take to start moving in what they say is the right direction. These steps include:

  • The MoD’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) should launch a series of technology innovation studies that consider a broad range of candidate technologies and techniques from the private sector that can be use to make up a Big Data work package for the military.
  •  Find champions within the MoD to act as big data champions, promoting the exploitation of big data technologies inside the military. The report suggests that the Chief of Defense Intelligence and Director General for Strategy with the Joint Forces Command be selected for this role.
  • Select two functional areas that could benefit from the implementation of big data technologies for pilot programs that can be used as proof of concept examples.
  • Build off of any success that comes out of the proof of concepts, creating a more detailed business case for the necessary changes.

In the report, RUSI noted that while the volume of data generated by the MoD is low relative to organizations in the commercial sector, the primary data challenge that the military faces pertains to the variety of unstructured data that are collected that need to be processed in real time. Failing to wrestle this issue successfully could potentially weaken the UK’s defense considerably, the report warns.

“Competence in these areas will quite possibly become a fundamental requirement for military forces in the future,” the report argues. “They may also become entry-level expectations for participation alongside the UK’s high-end partners in a similar way as is now the ability to participate fully in network-enabled operations. In the US, the Pentagon and security agencies are already beginning to move forward quickly with developing Big Data capabilities.”

Without a doubt, the MoD has its work cut out for itself as it begins this introspection and starts to move towards squaring up with the big data technology trend. In addition to there being a shortage of qualified human resources to help implement big data analytic strategies, austerity measures threaten to exacerbate the challenges reducing resources for training and equipment.