The Department of the Navy has a good sense of how data is generated on the mission side, but struggles to analyze that data and decide appropriate uses for it, according to the Navy’s Chief Data Officer (CDO) Tom Sasala.

During an FCW event on Dec. 7, Sasala explained that data on the mission side “doesn’t make its way back to a place where it can be adequately analyzed for a variety of reasons.” Those reasons include that the Navy is a mobile workforce that is disadvantaged in terms of bandwidth, as well as the obvious fact that the mission workforce is “out in the ocean” and might only have satellite transmission capabilities.

“Our challenge here is not necessarily discovering the fact that the data exists, but discovering what an appropriate use of the data might be, and where that data can be processed to be most effective,” Sasala said. “And then how much of that data once processed – either minimized or some other form – should come back for further analysis and further culling down, as well as integration with other datasets. And a lot of that has to do with: we’ve never done this before.”

Currently, the Navy is in the process of examining the value of mission data, according to Sasala. For example, he said by aggregating data over time and analyzing it for trends, the Navy would be able to look at “vibration sensor data” and say, “Hey, you know, this ball joint on this rotary helicopter is about to fail because we’re seeing the vibrations increase.”

Sasala said “this is something we’re starting to look into now,” and the Navy is beginning to look at that mission data, aggregate it, analyze it for trends, and then “feed that kind of trend data back up into the enterprise.”

“We’re just at the very early stages of some of this right now,” Sasala said. “On the enterprise side, or more on the business side, it’s a little bit more well in hand. You have a lot more compute resources, you have a lot more bandwidth at your disposal, and a lot more I would say luxury of being less discriminant about what data you’re pulling in. And the advantage of that is really having the ability to take a lot of different data that you had not previously integrated and do that … but it’s a challenge that we’re getting after.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.