Getting a bead on the bad guys: COTS-based soft information fusion merges military C4ISR data with web and other sources

A military analyst or command and control operator could soon get much better INTEL by combining military data with information from the web.

Bottom Line: I’m unaware of anyone else yet offering a COTS sensor fusion product that combines hard and soft information sources to take advantage of Internet intelligence.

[Update 4:45pm PDT 19Mar13: corrections from "data" to information; added explanation on API and MSCT output; corrected GMTI from plots to tracks.]

Cope Tiger 13

(Courtesy: US Air Force.)

Picture this scenario: a BDU khaki-uniformed DoD analyst is staring at multiple screens of intelligence (INTEL) data and images pertaining to an unmarked ship off the coast of some unnamed country. The ship’s actions have been odd, and the Coast Guard had been tracking it for some time until it went into international waters. New satellite images now show the ship at anchor in a different location than yesterday. What’s it doing there? Are the ship’s intentions nefarious? Who is aboard, and what cargo is aboard?

This kind of scenario vexes joint military forces, Homeland Security, and myriad three-letter agencies.

The challenge for any analyst is to make decisions based upon actionable intelligence by combining every scrap of information into a situational awareness picture that maximizes what the human does best: make a decision or recommendation.  The problem with data for DoD and CIA analysts is there’s either not enough of it, or there’s too much. It’s hard to make a decision with limited information; and it’s too time consuming to dedicate an analyst’s time to culling through SAR images, GMTI (ground moving target indicator) tracks, satellite photos, transcribed radio chatter, action reports, and so on.

As well, decisions are made using more than mere “data”. Sophisticated or low-level sensor outputs are “data” (such as L0/L1 trackers), but other non-traditional asymmetric information not currently in a structured data set might also be relevant and useful to an analyst’s task.

Larus Technologies aims to change all of that with the announcement of their high level information fusion engine (HLIFE) that melds a “collection of commercially available embedded software modules for C4ISR and Security systems” into an information fusion model. Based on the company’s patent-pending adaptive behavioral learning and predictive modeling algorithms, multiple sensing modalities can now be combined together to provide a more complete C4ISR and INTEL picture for analysts.

Larus Technologies' COTS sensor fusion product uses proprietary algorithms to fuse hard military data with soft, unstructured data like web pages or civilian data bases.

Larus Technologies’ COTS sensor fusion product uses proprietary algorithms to fuse hard military data with soft, unstructured data like web pages or civilian data bases.

But the company’s product is not just one Big Data MUX.  Instead, it intelligently combines a mixture of DoD, government and other “hard” and structured data sources with “soft” unstructured sources such as weather reports, search and rescue operator reports, human intelligence (HUMINT), flight schedules, web sites, and myriad other web-based information.

The company’s Total::Insight product is a commercial solution that can immediately leverage high level information fusion and computation intelligence based upon the DoD’s Joint Director of Labs (JDL) data fusion Model. The software performs behavior analysis through predictive modeling, and is “capable of dealing with heterogeneous (multi-source, multi-sensor) data.” The HLIF engine fuses: anomaly detection, trajectory prediction, intent assessment, threat assessment, adaptive learning (situational and procedural). Details on these algorithm components can be found in their white paper “Total Maritime Domain Awareness“, which requires registraion.

This company is new to me, but the concept of offloading an operator/analyst by providing more upstream intelligence is not. Raytheon’s multi-source correlator tracker (MSCT) does something similar with military data sources such as tactical sensors. In contrast, Larus says that they are a neutral COTS vendor that can take output from products like MSCT as well as provide an API so customers can “direct the output (i.e. alerts, warnings, suggested actions) out to their favorite command and control systems.”

Still, I’m unaware of anyone yet offering a COTS product that combines hard and soft data–rather, information–sources to take advantage of Internet-based intelligence. I’ll be watching Larus Technologies; you should too.

One thought on “Getting a bead on the bad guys: COTS-based soft information fusion merges military C4ISR data with web and other sources

  1. Manufacturers ‘build in’ embedded software in the electronics in cars, telephones, modems, robots, appliances, toys, security systems, pacemakers, televisions and set-top boxes, and digital watches, for example.[2] This software can be very simple, such as lighting controls running on an 8-bit microprocessor and a few kilobytes of memory, or can become very sophisticated in applications such as airplanes, missiles, and process control systems.”^

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