For ISR Firms, ‘Less Data’ Is a Growing Selling Point
Just a few years ago, big ISR integrators talked mostly about how much information they could gather. Now the first thing off their lips is how much they can reduce the flow.
“Data analytics” is the agreed term of art for automated processes that seek to display needles instead of haystacks. Done right, such tools can help spot items and patterns of interest, then speed the information from sensor to shooter. Such steps can save money by reducing the need for human analysts. Jim Hvizd, Raytheon’s vice president for space and airborne international business development, predicted at the Farnborough International Airshow July 11 that data analytics would eventually cut such costs in half.
Hvizd said customers are asking for “smarter information management beginning at the sensor” and continuing throughout every component of the chain.
“We would love to tell you that we have a ubiquitous way to do data analytics, but every customer comes to it slightly differently,” said Roger Krone, Boeing’s president of Network and Space Systems. “Every agency has a different data architecture already.”
Even makers of individual sensors are being asked by customers to simplify and add context to the raw data their products produce.
“That’s absolutely a request,” said Bill Sundermeier, FLIR’s president for governmental systems. “We as well as all the others [in the market] have to do this.”
FLIR has responded with algorithms that provide automatic target recognition, and has more in the works.
But as sophisticated as the automation gets, customers continue to want the ability, from time to time, to look at the unfiltered data stream.
“There are guys on the ground who want every pixel,” Sundermeier said.