Data analytics at MoD could save money and lives, says report

Applying big data analytics at the MoD could save money and lives, says a report by the Royal United Services Institute

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) could save money and lives applying big data analytics used in the commercial sector, says a report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Collaboration with the commercial sector on big data analytics could enable the MoD to benefit from cutting-edge skills as well as achieving greater financial efficiency and operational effectiveness, according to the Big Data for Defence and Security report.

The report also highlights how big data analytics could reduce the MoD’s risk of "data asphyxiation" through examining very large datasets to enable better decision-making.

“Government policy-makers collect more data than they can handle, yet simultaneously often lack robust, data-based evidence on which to plan and manage the business of the MoD,” the report said.

The report notes that government and industry face similar pressures to increase performance and speed of reaction, driving a need to reduce the distance between policy, planning and action.

“Emulating the intuitive understanding of human analysts with automated processes designed to search for patterns in huge, complex datasets could help,” the report said.

Big data analytics would also enable the MoD to use the vast amounts of data collected from a number of sources and platforms in operational areas such as Afghanistan.

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“Big data analytics have a potentially significant role in helping to manage the data deluge and assisting analysts to focus their efforts on analysing content rather than searching for relevant information,” the report said.

RUSI recommends the MoD build on the commercial sector's substantial investment in big data analytics to ensure it is well positioned to track and exploit further commercial technological developments.

One of the sponsors of the report, James Petter, EMC’s country manager for UK and Ireland, said the MoD is yet to wake up to the immense potential of thoroughly analysing the masses of existing information it is constantly collecting.

“Not only will it multiply the nation’s defence capability but, significantly, it will make warfare safer,” Petter said.

Big data analytics is becoming increasingly popular in the cyber security industry and is set to dominate the RSA Conference Europe 2013 in Amsterdam on 29 – 31 October 2013.

In the past year, the concept of using big data to solve cyber security problems has moved from the theoretical to the practical, according to Hugh Thompson, RSA Conference programme committee chair.

“Conference attendees will see that big data analytics is something they can already use to make things better,” Thompson told Computer Weekly.

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