3/21/2016 1:43 PM
by COL Linda Jantzen
Acting Director, Army Architecture Integration Center
Today, the Army fights and operates in an information-saturated environment. Greater network capacity and computing power have given us the ability to generate and store vast quantities of data. But the sheer volume has far outpaced our ability to make use of and maximize the value of that information. Harnessing data and making them readily usable by the individual Soldier, the commander and the strategic decision maker will be the key to retaining the Army’s warfighting edge.
To that end, the Chief Information Officer/G-6, along with multiple Army, Joint, academic and industry partners, has developed the Army Data Strategy. The Army Data Strategy is nested with the DoD Net-Centric Data Strategy and supports the Army Network Campaign Plan and Army Operating Concept. The current data environment is characterized by diverse, disconnected data sets, stovepiped analytical systems, complex standalone applications that depend on skilled expertise to access, and huge data storage and transport costs. These conditions render the exchange of data confusing, time-consuming and expensive, and have hindered warfighting effectiveness by denying decision makers powerful predictive and analytical capabilities.
The solution is to focus on the data themselves, rather than individual systems or networks. The data strategy, therefore, sets five simple goals: make data visible (V), accessible (A), understandable (U), trusted (T) and interoperable (I) – also known as “VAUTI.” When data achieve these qualities, the Army will be able to manage and use its data the way it does other valuable assets ‒ strategically and for maximum value.
The data strategy lays out the general approach to bringing the VAUTI objectives to fruition.
- To make data visible, the Army will create shared spaces or repositories where data are stored, and made visible and discoverable via associated metadata and enterprise search tools.
- To make data accessible, the Army will allow access to authorized users and deny it to intruders by applying security-related metadata for each data asset.
- To make data understandable, the Army will create data models, vocabularies, taxonomies, dictionaries and glossaries to sort and distinguish information, even when combined with other data assets.
- To make data trusted, the Army must identify sources that are authoritative and eliminate those that are not. This limits redundancy, vulnerability to theft or compromise, and “clutter,” which can impede discovery, introduce errors and reduce the value of the data.
- To make data interoperable across multiple systems and applications, the Army must document reusable information exchange specifications and establish unique identifiers.
Achieving all of this is far from easy. It will require a concerted effort and commitment to transition away from legacy processes, single-use systems and proprietary software. Multiple efforts are already under way across the Army, including implementation of the Common Operating Environment, which establishes a set of computing architectures and standards that enable secure and interoperable applications to be rapidly developed and shared across a variety of computing environments; and the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise, which implements data security policies, standards and tagging within a cloud infrastructure.
What works within one community may not scale across the entire enterprise. The CIO/G-6 is working to develop solutions and implement best practices through the Army Data Management Program (ADMP). The ADMP includes multiple initiatives, described in detail in a suite of reference documents known as Army Data Management Guides. Using collaborative bodies, such as the Army Data Board and other IT governance bodies, helps to track progress and share examples of success and lessons learned. The ADMP is resourced by the CIO/G-6 and supported by the Communications-Electronics Command Software Engineering Center, which serves as the Army Data Strategy Center of Excellence.
The increasing complexity of data and corresponding demand for information calls for an enterprise approach to managing data as a strategic asset. The Army Data Strategy provides the vision and framework for making data visible, accessible, understandable, trusted and interoperable. The data management practices we put in place today will lead to enhanced capabilities and effectiveness, and better use of resources across all operational environments, for many years to come.