The Army and Air Force Are Starting to Leverage Big Data
Sat, January 28, 2023

The Army and Air Force Are Starting to Leverage Big Data

It’s all about gaining more value from the data the military agencies extract / Photo Credit: BPTU 9via Shutterstock)


Jason Miller of radio station Federal News Network said no matter the path the military services or any agency decides to take, it’s all about gaining more value from the data they extracted and leveraging that information in various ways. Deputy CIO and chief data officer for the Army Greg Garcia stated that being the CDO is new for him, seeing it as a new opportunity for a senior person to be responsible for the Army’s data. During a panel at the recent AFCEA NOVA small business IT day, Garcia explained, “What we found out is you don’t necessarily have to move applications to get the value out of the data.” Rather, you can just transfer the datasets into a big data platform or data lake to extract data.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is naming someone to lead its data governance and management efforts and extracting value from data. The Air Force named its first CDO in 2017 and the following year, Eileen Vidrine was named as the current CDO. She said, “We have a concept called the digital Air Force, which is about optimizing people, process and technology to optimize how we perform.” She added that she is working with deputy CIO Bill Marion and deputy chief management officer Richard Lombardi to “look at not just what the data is,” but how they are optimizing business processes to move forward. As part of the digital Air Force effort, Vidrine built a small lab at Andrews Air Force Base where data architects, data scientists, and the functional or mission experts to explore use cases that may potentially solve enterprise challenges. “In our first year, we just wrapped up our 15th use case and several of them are now being scaled across the enterprise,” Vidrine stated.  They take a problem set and have the data scientists solve it. Then, they use the solution to “grow the next use case,” she added.

Garcia stated that the Army is incorporating new AI and machine learning capabilities to their big data platforms. This allows them to be smarter and more predictive in their planning. The Air Force is also working on several initiatives to strengthen its hold on data. Garcia concluded, “It’s the senior leaders saying, ‘We need to worry about data. Data is the new strategic asset that we must get in front of.’”