• September 18, 2014

Techies, Uncle Sam wants you

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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 4:30 am

WASHINGTON — Can you provide a computerized system that automatically performs name comparisons and also can detect relationships with other names?

Can you design a platform that accesses the news media from anywhere in the world, mines it for files of interest and then provides real-time operational data from it to multiple stakeholders?

And while you’re at it, maybe you can resolve massive real-time and historic filed data sets and automatically extract results from trillions of such records?

If so, the U.S. Army wants to hear from you.

As the public faces almost daily new details about the National Security Agency’s worldwide collection and manipulation of metadata, the U.S. Army is seeking computer specialists to help it develop programs that could collect, retrieve and display massive amounts of data. The Army also wants to be able to use the metadata to draw actionable intelligence, some for display on three-dimensional touch-screen maps.

A request for information was issued last month by the Army’s little-publicized Project Director Technology Applications Office, which provides information management for Army headquarters but also is used to support classified special programs. An RFI seeks ideas from potential contractors but it is not a solicitation. In fact, the original notice said the government would not reimburse contractors for the cost of submissions.

Having viewed the RFI, one experienced former intelligence official wrote, “Many of the technology initiatives (the Army is seeking) seem (to be) pushing the envelope.”

When asked for someone who could describe which systems engineering and services capabilities were being sought, Ellyn Kocher, public communications specialist at Army Contracting Command, said she had been told “that there may be no more information to give than what is in the RFI listing, as anything more could be classified.”

One sentence in the RFI synopsis reads: “The highly specialized professional services require in-depth knowledge of mission specific, operational requirements for several intelligence disciplines leveraged in multiple geographical locations both CONUS (the continental United States) and OCONUS (overseas).”

In short, the Army is seeking experts with experience dealing with intelligence operations overseas and at home.

The overall RFI title is “support for a multi-touch, common operation picture able to present time-synchronized, multi-source intelligence data products, including full motion video, on a three dimensional map.”

That reads like something out of a movie or TV show, or what you would expect for the White House Situation Room.

My favorite is the command’s search for “a compact, man-portable device capable of detecting hidden chambers, persons, or material through dirt, masonry, water, etc. (or to) develop an automated system for mapping inside and outside of buildings to aid in identifying hidden chambers.” The lesson was from Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

The future Army may be smaller, but it’s certainly planning to be high-tech.

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