Boot camp trains intel analysts

Agency focusing on applying AI, automation and augmentation

The pace at which data is gathered and collected increases exponentially every day. In 2020 alone, all the world’s digital devices – smartphones, high-performance computers, sensors, and anything that collects information – produced about 59 zettabytes, or 59 trillion gigabytes, of data. The challenge is making that data useful and informative – and artificial intelligence can help.

“There is little doubt that AI is the cornerstone necessary to address this volume of data,” said Ted Glusko, vice president of Intelligence Production Services at Space & C2 Systems, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business. “Analysts must be able to understand how artificial intelligence and machine learning applies to their mission, ensuring quick and accurate decisions.”

This is why the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is applying artificial intelligence, automation and augmentation – technologies it refers to collectively as AAA – to its mission. To support that effort, RI&S developed an AI/ML boot camp to demonstrate cutting-edge intelligence tools and give a broad perspective on AI, deep learning in machines and neural networks. Analysts attended the RI&S boot camp virtually in 2020.

“What made this boot camp unique was that it focused on the applications of AI/ML to geospatial intelligence,” said Frank Tanner, chief engineer, Artificial Intelligence & Autonomy at RI&S. “We were able to put these technologies in the context of the challenges analysts face at any given moment, turning AI into a practical reality.”

Topics included AI/ML systems development, dealing with intelligence data and applications of deep learning. Participants came from a variety of backgrounds such as remote sensing and political science, and the coursework spanned from basic to more advanced concepts to meet the needs of both new and more advanced practitioners.

“We created a training session for 50, but ended up with 250 analysts,” said John Coogan, Ph.D., a chief scientist at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “By focusing on problems that are important to the NGA and speaking to their specific lessons learned, the course content became relevant to a broader audience of analysts.”

The virtual AI/ML boot camp answered the agency’s need to see how artificial intelligence tools apply to their specific missions. The RI&S team plans to repeat the boot camp several times with a goal of reaching more than 1,000 analysts across the NGA.

“Such workshops are bridging the knowledge gap between the technology community and those on the front lines of national security,” Glusko said. “Many government agencies are turning to Silicon Valley for the latest technologies, but there’s a learning curve for these commercial companies that our company has already passed.”