Marines Get Help with Data Overload

agile-bloodhound-220x150The Office of Naval Research recently equipped Marines in Hawaii with special technology to help them sift through loads of data to find only the information they need for the battlefield.

ONR officials partnered with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Experimentation Center and the 3rd Marine Regiment for the third annual Agile Bloodhound demonstration Nov. 13-14 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Marines used handheld devices and special software to automatically sift through loads of data to help ease information overload.

Naval expeditionary operations involve more sensors, radios and computers than ever before. However, the management and dissemination of information has not kept pace with technological advancements, and Marines on the front lines can be overwhelmed with the amount of raw data coming at them, demonstration officials maintain.

“Marines in the heat of battle have more pressing things to worry about than trying to make sense of a lot of different pieces of intelligence,” said John Moniz, ONR program manager. “They need the right information at the right time, and Agile Bloodhound is helping us figure out what combination of hardware and software works best to deliver only the most relevant information as quickly as possible.”

The demonstration showed how information such as imagery from an unmanned aircraft sensors and communications and networking can be tailored to speed decision-making by expeditionary forces.

Some of the many technologies used during Agile Bloodhound include:

— A serverless chat system that allows person-to-person and group communications even for those not connected to the infrastructure network and servers.

— A knowledge discovery program that uses smartphones and tablets to streamline ISR data collection and exploitation, as well as create a unified picture of the battlefield through geographically identified imagery and automated force tracking.

— ActiveWiki software that allows collaboration for social-networking graphs and real-time updates of pictures and maps to produce unique views and overlays of the battlespace.

“We’re trying to create a user-oriented world view for Marines,” said Col. William Zamagni, deputy director of ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department. “Whether they’re in command centers with PCs, in vehicles with laptops or on foot with smartphones, Marines need access to the most pertinent information possible.”

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Matt Cox
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  • blight_

    Hooray, we’re pushing data mining to the frontline.

    Debating if this means more contractors, or government contractors trained in data mining.

  • daffodil

    I don’t understand what the problem is when the information being gathered should be location and task based. Meaning troops with a certain task and location should only get information based on exactly that. This means some sort of algorithm needs to be made that can manage this correctly. Certain location and task may conflict that’s where another algorithm comes in to merge this information based on location. Information to those in high command would be totally different to lets say troops attempting to secure an area. The first phase of gathering information and redistribution should avoid micromanagement of the information. At first important information will be left out and there will be kinks but this is the nature of introducing something entirely new.

  • Hammer6

    Great idea. Unburdening the combat Soldier & Marine - cognitively as well as physically - is the next great challenge. If done right, it boost combat effectiveness. I hope this work is coordinated with the Army, to save money, cut duplication, and boost information sharing.

  • hibeam

    When the government builds a web site in can only handle 6 people at one time so data overload is too be expected.

  • oblatt2

    General Gamelin would have loved the US army. Top to bottom micro-managment of scale and detail he could only have dreamed of.

    Getting rid of the “cognitive-load” of having to think about what to do next and just follow HQ orders precisely is the objective of all these increasingly centralized systems.

    As Lind points out we never made it to even the second generation of warfare we are essentially a jazzed up WW1 army.

  • john jennette

    This is all BS and obsessive-compulsive micromanagement/rule following that makes the brass less anxious but kills soldiers and demands absolute obediance to rules. Why not simply ask recently combat experienced and in combat soldiers to tell the brass what they need and let the soldiers be in control?