FoXTEN fuses intel on the frontlines

Configuration, not coding, can drive data faster for Army system

The last thing a military data analyst in the field needs is an intelligence platform that's struggling to keep up with the information. And when that happens in a high-stakes environment, there's no time to wait for a developer to code the problem away.

“There’s a lot of data out there, and analysts are struggling to keep up with it,” said David Appel, vice president of Defense and Civil Solutions for Raytheon Intelligence & Space, one of the four businesses that form Raytheon Technologies. “The old way of ingesting and processing data is programming thousands of lines of custom code. Well, we tried that. It simply doesn’t work when time is of the essence, so we took a different approach.”

In a high-stakes environment that’s constantly transformed by technology, those in harm’s way can’t wait for a specialized developer to come out to the field and program new code to enable access to data.

“Analysts need one easy, viewable program that sits on a single pane of glass, seamlessly tying all of the available data together for an accurate depiction of the real world,” said David O’Connor, engineering fellow at RI&S. “Instead of trying to write code from scratch, we sourced proven, reliable commercial-off-the-shelf products, and added our secret sauce on top of it.”

RI&S offers an intelligence system that combines cloud computing, commercial technology, and artificial intelligence with an easy-to-use and reliable interface. It’s called Force Multiplier Tactical Edge Node, or FoXTEN.

The system easily integrates commercial-off-the-shelf technology from Qlik, Datawalk, Informatica and ESRI. These companies have decades of focused experience in data processing, a game-like user interface and a dynamic front-end, respectively, that allows new programs to simply be plugged in as they become available.

“It boils down to configuration over code,” said O’Connor. “Instead of 500,000 lines of custom code for a user interface, we’ll end up with a very small fraction of that. The result is an easy-to-use solution that’s easily adaptable by the end-user, all while maintaining quality and reliability.”

The FoXTEN user interface is intuitive, and it doesn’t require hours of training for users to understand all of the data at their fingertips.

“We can tell you how to do it over the phone,” said O’Connor. “We can also have a UI show you a new chart or report without someone having to build a custom reports. It’s all about the adaptability for new data on-the-fly.” 

The data processing pipeline is dynamic, so no new code has to be written and new data types can be plugged in on-the-fly. It’s as simple as pushing an update remotely or configuring FoXTEN out on the battlefield to bring in a new data feed that analysts may never have seen before – all without a developer present.

FoXTEN essentially ties together all the available data into one common geographical view, allowing the user to understand how and where things are moving, where adversaries are, and how to navigate optimally to a destination,

“What’s great is this allows users to develop and deploy their own specific capabilities without coding,” said O’Connor. “As soon as new data sources become available, a user can add it in and make it available in the system. The user can also quickly deploy an application to do a specific task in the FoXTEN app while out in the field.”

FoXTEN is built with an open architecture, meaning it can be updated easily as new features become available, and that it can run on commodity hardware and in cloud environments, allowing it to perform just about anywhere and function on any standard, off-the-shelf computer.

“At the core of what we’re doing is building products the Army can share and use to collaborate with other commands to understand what’s going on with the enemy in real-time,” said Appel. “Give us a database we’ve never seen before. We’ll connect to it, show you its value, and we’ll correlate that with the data you already have. We will make your data more valuable through insights across any data feed.”