2014 Analyst Forum: Lessons Learned From The National Security Community

September 15, 2014
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By Shannon Perry

On July 30th in northern Virginia, some of the greatest minds in analytics for business, outcomes, and mission impact gathered to share their lessons learned and experiences with data analytics. Academia, government, and industry came together to provide a comprehensive approach to investigating how we can better extract knowledge from information. See our overall event recap here

In a panel on Lessons From and For the National Security Community, moderated by Dr. Erin Simpson, CEO of Caerus Associates, led a discussion with Dave Gauthier of the Analysis Directorate of NGA,Bob Jimenez, CTO at NRO, and Jason Thomas, the Manager of Innovation for the Government with Thomson Reuters.

The panel quickly identified several objectives for the intelligence community: the need for collaboration between data scientists and intelligence analysts, the necessity of utilizing open-source data, and importance of maintaining the upper hand in the public relations battle. As Dr. Bill Nolte had previously noted in the Educating the Analyst Panel, the Snowden effect on recruiting has been palpable – some young adults equate working for organizations like NSA with working for the “bad guys.”

The panel repeatedly emphasized the importance of incorporating open-source information into intelligence analysis. Mr. Jimenez suggested that – without adapting – an open-source intelligence community could surpass that of the government. Mr. Gauthier echoed that sentiment, saying that the original analysis model has been flipped, and many analysts should now work first with open-source data before moving into intelligence community data.

Perhaps the most pressing lesson for the national security community is the urgency of adapting to the challenges and opportunities presented by big data, improvements in data analytics, and new technologies. Mr. Thomas said that some policymakers and enterprise leaders consider technology problems to be the next generation’s problems, even though these changes are already underway.

High-quality intelligence analysis of tomorrow will be produced by today’s most adaptable – and not today’s strongest – intelligence communities.