Air Force putting data analytics into a smart targeting platform

Air Force bomb damage assessment photo

Among other things, CATALiST would analyze Air Force bomb damage assessment photos.

A big data specialist that is developing an analytics tool it touts as a "Facebook for terrorists" also is working with the Air Force on a "smart" targeting platform for aircraft that would automate what is now a manual, time-consuming process.

Under a two-year contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Modus Operandi of Melbourne, Fla., is developing workflow modules for the Air Force targeting platform called CATALiST. The platform is intended to improve analysis and assessment of battlefield targets.

The company said the workflow modules would help automate and improve the targeting process. The modules would be based on the company's distributed, semantics-based management framework designed to automate the processes used in collecting and assessing targeting information.

The semantics-based approach is also used in the Modus Operandi Blade wiki interface that is the basis of the company’s Facebook-like app.

Along with the company's "Modus Flow" tool, the smart targeting platform would use open-source software along with software tools already developed by the Air Force lab, which is based in Rome, N.Y.

The software tools include knowledge management technology, which refers to the capture, distribution and effective use of information within an organization. The targeting platform would also seek to leverage data analytics and visualization technologies, the Air Force contractor said.

The Air Force said it wants to leverage the workflows and data analysis tools to automate what are currently manual targeting processes. The smart platform would be used for target selection and other sensitive phases designed to avoid collateral damage and to assess battle damage. The modules would be part of a "full spectrum targeting" process, the Air Force said, that would leverage analytics tools to reduce human error while speeding up what is currently a lengthy process prone to errors.

The CATALiST smart targeting platform would ultimately provide the Air Force with a tool to enable a continuous targeting capability along with real-time distribution of targeting data through an Air Force "electronic target folder," the military lab said.

Meanwhile, Modus Operandi's Facebook-like app, still in the research phase, would provide users with a familiar interface that draws on semantically linked information. It would allow analysts to update information, drop in photos, post comments and even rate the quality of information.

The company noted that the semantic-based app complements its other data analytics tools like the workflow module being used in the Air Force smart targeting platform.

About the Author

George Leopold is a contributing editor for Defense Systems and author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom."Connect with him on Twitter at @gleopold1.

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