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Applications of data science in defense and counter terrorism

Applications of data science in defense and counter terrorism

The intelligence and reconnaissance squads during the second world war featured the bravest engineers. Their job was to gather intel to help the armed forces to intercept the enemy movements. Intelligence just as much as guns and tanks wins wars.

We are well into the information age – technology drives everything. Recon missions have changed in color and character. Spies still venture behind enemy lines, but data science has taken some load off their shoulders. Be it securing the borders, or preventing an impending insurgency, data science plays a vital role in operational success.

Data from a drone, seven thousand miles away

The ARGUS-IS imaging system, mounted on a 36 foot drone has been operating in Syria for a while now. It is controlled from an undisclosed location, somewhere around the eastern coast of the US. Virtually invisible, this drone can send 5000 hours of high definition footage spread across 100 different video streams and captured with a 368 focal plane array.

This means hundreds of terabytes of data generated and transferred regularly to track one terrorist cell seven thousand miles away. The volume and the velocity of data influx calls for a robust data management system and expert data science professionals. The foreknowledge this sort of a surveillance system provides is incredible hence undefeatable.

Distilling the information load

The pressure of a battle field is unimaginable for civilians. We use terms such as war-like-emergency without fully recognizing its implication. War easily saturates the cognitive and reactive abilities of the combatants and processing information becomes a severe challenge. In 2012 a naval intelligence officer reported that 90% of the information that was asked for during a crisis situation was already known to the combatants. It is just that the critical information was lost among other trivialities and they did not know where to look.

Big data in defense is like a double-edged sword. While it allows the on-field commanders a competitive edge in the form of foreknowledge, it can also overwhelm them with information. This is why data scientists are needed to prepare a system that distills information received from various sensors, like the one we mentioned earlier, based on the context, and provides the combatants with the most relevant pieces of information. Data scientists now deploy machine learning to whittle down the enormous databases and pick out information that lead to critical insights.

Data v/s friendly fire

There were multiple incidents of friendly fire during the American Gulf war. This was due to a lack of knowledge about the position of allies. This made the American military to put trackers on tanks and military vehicles that uplink their geo-position data to the military communications satellite, and the same data is fed back to transceivers fit in other vehicles. Thus all the vehicles on the field could track each other’s positions reducing the chances of friendly fire. 

This whole process has to be built upon firm data pipelines and the data scientists involved need to be at the top of their game since a minor failure could lead to a catastrophe.

Optimizing the military supply chain

Robust supply chain management is a matter of life and death when it comes to the military. The armies fighting at the other end of the world need regular resources, fuel, arms and ammunition. The whole system has to work like clock work. One broken vehicle or one delayed consignment can warrant the deaths of tens if not hundreds of soldiers. 

This is why the US army takes cues from civilian market leaders like Walmart and FedX to deploy AI based inventory management, logistics, and supply chain management. In fact, they put RFID chips in assault rifles to track the inventory.

Pattern recognition

The on-field advantage of data science is evenly matched by the off-the field efforts. Data scientists can deploy predictive models to identify probable sites of an IED (improvised explosive device) attack. They can pick the most probable route of a terrorist infiltration. They can predict possible insurgencies based on historical records. 

An intelligent nation is a safe one. Data science experts play a pivotal role in gathering, filtering, and operationalizing intelligence in today’s world. A data scientist course in Delhi can prepare for a battle that you can fight for your nation without ever firing a bullet or wearing a uniform. Data is the most valuable commodity not just in terms of business but also in terms of defense, public safety, and counter terrorism. Pick your field and dive deep. 

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