DOD platform made for financial data finds battlefield use

Department of Defense Chief Data Officer David Spirk speaks virtually to children at Mitchell Elementary in Tampa, Florida, to highlight topics such as the importance of data management; artificial intelligence; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. (DoD photo / U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders)

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A Department of Defense data platform created to help track financial and management data is now being used as a platform to pass critical information to commanders on the battlefield.

The DOD’s Advana platform was used in Norther Command’s Global Information Dominance Experiments (GIDEs) that tested the military’s ability to track and respond to complex incoming threats through data. It was a part of testing the new Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) construct where the DOD wants to connect datasets from across the domains of conflict to synchronize battlefield movement’s and give commanders deeper insights.

The department’s chief data officer, Dave Spirk, said during a media roundtable hosted by the Defense Writers Group that Advana played a critical role in the exercises held in summer 2021.

“Throughout the exercise we were able to leverage live readiness data in Advana,” He said.

Advana started life in the chief financial officer’s office. The system claims to be able to pull data from more than 3,000 different business systems that previously lacked interoperability, according to the website of prime contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Spirk said the platform now has roughly 4,500 active users.

Booz Allen won a five-year, $647 million contract in June 2021 to grow the program.

It was not always clear Advana would become a go-to platform of choice for data processing. When Spirk arrived on the job in June 2020, he said that most people expected him to build a competitor to the system. But, instead he “saw a lot of promise.”

“It is really pretty spectacular,” he said of the system.

Advana was designed around what Spirk has called “board room data.” He said that now that board room data and battlefield data are coming together, the DOD can operate as a more data-centric department.

Other data platforms exist or are being built for cross-DOD use, including the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center‘s Joint Common Foundation which aims to also be a development platform for developing machine learning models.

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Advana, artificial intelligence (AI), Dave Spirk, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), NORAD, Northern Command
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