News: Focused: ONR Tackles Data Science, Warfighter Performance

Office of Naval Research
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2014

By Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va.—Having just completed a forum with data science experts from around the country, Office of Naval Research (ONR) officials announced July 1 they will host another gathering of leading thinkers in the fall for in-depth discussions on warfighter performance.

Called Focus Area Forums, the events are an initiative of Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder as a way to bring together specialists from many disciplines to develop innovative and affordable ways to support Navy and Marine Corps needs with new technologies for Sailors and Marines.

More than 150 experts—nearly two-thirds from outside the Department of Defense—participated in the June 25 forum, which featured both wide-ranging and detailed discussions about how military decision-makers can take advantage of the explosion of data sources in the digital age. Representatives from industry, academia, government and the military exchanged ideas and information and met with ONR program officers and senior naval leaders in both open and classified sessions. [See video highlights of the event.]

“Big data analytics can give us a tremendous warfighting advantage,” Klunder told participants. “Having all of these brilliant minds in this room even just for a day allows us to dig deeper into how we can rapidly automate data into more useful tactical information for our naval warfighters.”

Both the defense and private sectors have extraordinary access to new types and massive amounts of data. ONR and its partners are investigating ways to automatically sort through this abundance of data to support tactical warfighting objectives and missions—in short, to make sure the right piece of information gets to the right person at the right time.

Klunder highlighted four key areas for researchers: automating the collection and analysis of data; moving it around in operational environments with low bandwidth; articulating the challenges involved to the larger force; and applying technological solutions to specific missions.

ONR’s first Focus Area Forum in January on autonomy, and last week’s on data science, have provided a foundation for a planned Nov. 5 meeting on enhancing warfighter performance—with potential topics ranging from medicine and training to collaborations between humans and robots.

“We can have all of the newest machines and information in the world, but they won’t mean a thing if they aren’t being used to improve the health, well-being and effectiveness of our Sailors and Marines,” Klunder said.

Each forum topic aligns with Department of Navy priorities as laid out in documents such as Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert’s Sailing Directions and the Naval Science and Technology Strategic Plan. Citing the need to conquer “big data” to make better tactical decisions, Greenert recently called for the creation of a new Information Dominance Type Command to be overseen by Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

“Navy leaders recognize that the disciplines of data science and decision-making are crucial to information dominance,” said Dr. Wen Masters, acting head of ONR’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Department.

Officials dedicated last week’s forum to Dr. Bobby Junker, former head of ONR’s C4ISR Department and a pioneer in Navy information dominance who recently passed away.

“Bobby is looking down at us right now saying, ‘What took you so long to get together and realize that it’s all about data?’” said Wayne Perras, director of experimentation for ONR’s C4ISR Department. “He was beating that drum for years.”

Read more about information dominance in the summer edition of the Naval Science and Technology Future Force magazine.

About the Office of Naval Research

The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs more than 1,000 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

Image - Focus Area Forum
Office of Naval Research
Corporate Strategic Communications
875 N. Randolph St., #1225-D
Arlington, Va., 22203-1771
Office: (703) 696-5031
Fax: (703) 696-5940
E-mail: onrpublicaffairs@navy.mil
Web: www.onr.navy.mil
Facebook: www.facebook.com/officeofnavalresearch

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