One Program to Watch Them All: Darpa’s New Snoop Plan
By Katie Drummond
October 4, 2010
The Pentagon’s surveillance net is massive. But it was holes and seams. Spy drone videos and communications intercepts may be aimed at the same target. Analysts have a hard time flipping easily from one kind of intel to the other, however — allowing those targets to get away. So the military is working on an out-there idea to fix the problem: a single mega-system that pulls together and analyzes all every kind of intel you can imagine. If it works as planned, it’ll be a whole lot harder to slip through that Pentagon net.
No surprise that Darpa, the military’s blue-sky research arm, is the agency behind the lofty five-year program, called Insight. The agency’s goal is to replace “largely manual exploitation and…chat-based operator interactions” with a system that mines different inputs, including drone footage and on-the-ground intel, and quickly stitches together the data to identify potential threats.
What Darpa’s calling “a next generation ISR [intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance] exploitation and resource management system” would be faster than human analysts, but it’d still rely on their input. Darpa wants an interface that’s adaptable, letting users provide context and pick the best surveillance combo for a given situation.