App Mall, Geospatial Collaboration in Works as Army Moves Intelligence to Cloud

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In October, the director of the National Security Agency wanted to make clear to a Baltimore audience his views on the intelligence community using cloud computing.

“We need to go from our legacy databases to the cloud,” Army Gen. Keith Alexander said.

Alexander explained that cloud computing offers a better end-to-end view of networks and makes the community more secure, rather than less secure, as commonly believed.

Now, the Army is looking to develop a cloud-based tool for intelligence collection and analysis. Federal News Radio reports this effort is gaining some steam and the Army wants to keep the momentum going.

The Distributed Common Ground System – Army has been in development for several years now. The idea is to give soldiers quick and efficient access to intelligence while in combat.

Mary Lynn Schnurr, the chief information officer for Army intelligence, said that intelligence should not just be available to commanders. Rather, the optimal system would enable all soldiers to use the intelligence when they find documents or other digital information that they must analyze quickly.

“Soldiers, when they go on a raid and they pull that pocket litter out, they want to be able to look at those phone numbers and find linkages and they want to be able to do it right away,” she said at a recent event sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

“So we’ve put tools in place like TSETS, tactical site exploitation tools, that allow them to do exploitation right at the pointy end, right at the place of capture.”

The Army currently is rolling out version three of DCGS-A. According to Federal News Radio, the new version intends to fix shortcomings that commanders in Afghanistan claimed prevented intelligence personnel from piecing together large volumes of information placed across many databases.

Geospatial information is one of those pieces of information commanders want to get to soldiers in the field. The Army wants the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to provide the information and the National Security Agency to provide cryptological help. The Defense Intelligence Agency and the Marine Corps already provide the information.

An app mall is also in the works, allowing intelligence users to pick widgets that work for them. Schnurr says this is one part of a shift from hardware to software.

“That’s a way that we can achieve some great efficiencies: by changing the model we operate in,” she said.

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