Tech

June 7, 2012

War fighting data becoming easier to find and retrieve

by Patty Welsh
Hanscom AFB, Mass.

Second Lt. Spencer Edwards reviews a demonstration of data from the DCGS Integration Backbone at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., June 6, 2012. The Electronic Systems Center recently awarded contracts to improve the data discovery and retrieval capabilities of the DIB. Edwards is a Distributed Common Ground/Surface System Exercise Technical Working Group lead.

Recent contract awards by the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., are helping to ensure that warfighters using a key intelligence system can discover and access needed information.

The Distributed Common Ground/Surface System Integration Backbone consists of a common set of services and standards that are used across the DCGS community to facilitate sharing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information. The contracts will allow for improvement of the capabilities.

“The DIB provides the DCGS with data discovery and retrieval services that identify what information is available, where the information is located and how to retrieve that information,” said Brian Smith, the DCGS Multi-Service Execution Team Office Operations team lead. “It’s often described as a library’s card catalog – it lets you figure out where the information is that you need and how to access it.”

A development contract was awarded in May, while a small business innovative research technology transition contract was awarded in April.

One area covered by the contracts includes common, reusable security services. This allows a user to discover and retrieve information products based on their access privileges. Information that was at a higher-level security classification will now be able to be exchanged with others that also have the correct security clearance.

“Prior to the existence of DIB, personnel might have (had) to connect to and search different data sources one at a time in order to do their analysis,” said Smith. “Now the different data sources are all searchable through the DIB federation.”

A release of DIB v4.0 in March allows for rapid integration of new data sources and formats by providing a flexible and extensible framework, called the Distributed Data Framework. The DDF ensures capabilities built upon it are modular, loosely coupled and easy to deploy. It also supports legacy capabilities of previous DIB versions.

“This latest version of the DIB simplifies the integration of Web service components and data sources,” said Smith. “It also allows for greater data exposure to applications and interfaces such as widgets and portals.”

But he also emphasized that efficiencies continually need to be looked at as well.

“We want to ensure all improvements are done in a cost-effective manner with reusable software services and common requirements,” Smith said.

The DIB v4.0 helps in that regard because there are no significant installation or configuration efforts associated when new capabilities are added.

“The ability to move away from software-specific products to common services and specifications that meet enterprise requirements allows for DOD-wide cost avoidance,” said Smith. “And with the release of DIB v4.0, new data sources can be exposed to the DIB even faster, without having to modify the core software.”

The ultimate goal is to guarantee critical information is available.

“Data is spread across the enterprise with different access points and continues to evolve,” said Smith. “And we need to ensure war fighters can retrieve what they need, when they need it.”




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