Big Data

Navy invites wargamers to help put its big data in play

Bridge USS Fort Worth littoral combat ship

One potential source of daily data: the bridge of the USS Forth Worth littoral combat ship.


The Navy has more data than it knows what to do with—or more specifically, it has an idea what it would like to do with it, but it doesn’t quite know how.

So the service is inviting virtual wargamers to help it solve the problem. The Navy Department’s CIO site has posted an invitation to gamers, asking them to sign up to play Data Dilemma, a MMOWGLI (Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet) that will be staged April 6-17.

As the DON CIO’s notice points out, the Navy collects massive amounts of data—more each day than is held in the Library of Congress—and a lot of that data isn’t classified or mission-related, such as demographic, medical, energy, education, public safety and (presumably non-personal) financial information. The ability to organize and share that data could spur innovation and help solve problems, both internally for the Navy and in the public realm, but the Navy “does not have an effective strategy to share this information internally or with the public, thus preventing it from maximizing on recent open-data and innovation trends,” the invitation, written by the service’s MMOWGLI team, says.

The team admits that the Navy’s default position on data generally has been to share it only on a “need to know” basis, otherwise holding it in silos in order to protect it from online exploitation or attack. But in light of the success other organizations—in both the public and private sectors—have had in opening data stores for app development and other innovations, the Navy wants to change its baseline approach to “need to share,” while also protecting personal, sensitive and national security information.

Data Dilemma, which the team refers to as dd, could help get the Navy moving in that direction. Players will work and collaborate across boundaries and are asked to share their professional knowledge, practical experiences and, of course their ideas for possibly game-changing innovations. The key goal, the notice says, is to find ways to make beneficial use of the data without while managing risk.

“Help us understand and master the Navy's data dilemma: when can we share, when must we silo?” the team says. “This is your chance to help challenge our core assumptions and beliefs, examining transformative technologies that will shape our future.”

The only restriction on participation is that gamers must be 18 or older. Players who signs up will receive a notification when play begins.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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