George Orwell’s book “1984” described a dystopian future in which the government – in the form of “Big Brother” – was constantly keeping tabs on everything its citizens did and said.
The leak of classified information by whistleblower Edward Snowden – a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) – made Orwell’s predictions eerily prescient.
Many people now believe that we already live in a Big Brother state and that the government is spying on our phone calls, our emails, our texts, and even our Facebook status updates.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US Department of Defense and the intelligence community sought out new ways to analyze and use data on a grander scale than ever before. There was a real and immediate threat to national security and a war on terror had been declared, so many of the built-in checks and balances of government were temporarily ignored.
Advantages of Big Data to National Security
Big data — such as using SEO to quickly search and index online content — offered fast, effective tools for searching vast data pools for indications of criminal and terrorist activity. They also made it possible to identify and record personal relationships between criminals and terrorists that otherwise might not be seen. Cutting edge data analysis could even predict – with stunning accuracy – rising nation aggressors and threats to our national security, even wars.
Big data tools suddenly were available that could identify and respond to in-progress cyber-attacks. They could even power artificial intelligence that could drive the tools of war – such as unmanned drones and “smart” bombs – that could attack faster and more precisely than humans ever could.
How Big Data Is Used
The applications for big data in national defense are vast. Some of the ways it currently is being used include:
• Situational awareness and visualization
• Correlating information for problem-solving
• Searching vast amounts of data for relevant information
• Managing enterprise data for cyber security
• Organizing logistical data such as asset catalogs
• Improving the delivery and analysis of public health care
• Open source information including analysis and integration
• In-memory data modernization
• Optimizing enterprise data and operations
• Using big data tools to improve weaponry and war
Like it or not, the use of Big Data as a means of national defense will likely only continue to expand as technologies become more advanced in the future.