Unified Military Intelligence picture helps dispel the fog of war
Military operations depend upon the unimpeded flow of accurate and relevant information to support timely decisions related to battle planning and execution. To address these needs, numerous intelligence systems and technologies have been developed over the past 20 years, but each of these typically provides only a partial picture of the battlefield, and integrating the information has proven to be burdensome and inefficient.
DARPA’s Insight programme aims to take defence intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to the next level by creating the capability to meaningfully integrate disparate “stovepiped” source information into a unified picture of the battlefield. As DARPA’s capstone ISR processing programme, Insight seeks to enable analysts to make sense of the huge volumes of intelligence-rich information available to them from existing sensors and data sources.
“We’re addressing the tyranny of stovepipes,” said Ben Cutler, DARPA programme manager leading the Insight programme. “Intelligence analysts currently use different systems for nearly every different data feed, and intelligence derived from these systems is not always readily understandable and accessible. Insight aims to create an adaptable, integrated system that augments human analysts’ capabilities to collect information from all available sources, learn from it, and share important insights with the people who need it most—all in real time.”
Improving real-time information sharing is a priority at the highest levels of the US military. “Defence intelligence must be able to provide timely and actionable intelligence across the entire threat spectrum,” US Army Lt General Michael T. Flynn, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified before the US Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2013.
Insight would enable analysts to collaborate on the fly via an intuitive user interface that speeds comprehension of complex information through state-of-the-art data visualisation techniques. Under the hood, advanced automation and data fusion technologies would handle low-level analytical tasks and correlate incoming live data streams and forensic data. Insight’s scalable, modular architecture promises to reduce cost and accelerate delivery of tailored capabilities readily adapted to meet evolving mission needs in any theatre of operation.
“Imagine PCs or smartphones without plug and play, without the rich, interactive environment we take for granted, without applications that share data and interact with each other,” Cutler said. “That’s how computers were until strong standards took hold. Our goal with Insight is to bring similar levels of capability and interoperability to ISR, with all the associated benefits to the defence mission.”