Data company Kinetica inked a five-year deal with a $100 million ceiling to provide analytics and machine learning capabilities to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the U.S. military’s protector of North American airspace.
Kinetica will provide its capabilities to NORAD and U.S. Northern Command to monitor and defend U.S. airspace from unknown threats.
As such, the deal adds a defensive flare to one of the Department of Defense’s top emerging technology priorities: creating a military Internet of Things-like capability of connected sensors called Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). Major JADC2 test events have so far focused on offensive capabilities with the new network-of-networks. NORAD has been one of the first to actually deploy new capabilities under the still-developing operational construct.
“The current work that we are doing under this pathfinder project is more defensive,” Jeff Kennedy, Kinetica’s federal sales director, said in an interview.
The Arlington-based company boasts the ability to analyze “massive” data sets with “trillions of rows” to project near-real-time risk assessments — the type of capability military leaders have been on the hunt for.
Kinetica first partnered with the military on this project through a year-long collaboration with the Defense Innovation Unit, the military’s Silicon Valley outpost. The company said it competed on weekly sprints, identifying new data-crunching techniques to solve defense challenges like targeting stolen aircraft in U.S. airspace.
“Most technologies today are not equipped to handle the volume of data along with the highspeed velocity flowing in from non-stop data feeds,” Amit Vij, president and co-founder of Kinetica, said in a release. “Usually the velocity of data breaks the latest technologies of today, and this presents a serious challenge to many organizations that require real-time actionable intelligence from multiple domains.”
The prototypes built by the company were transitioned to an other transaction agreement contract to support a NORAD “pathfinders” program that aims to use machine learning and recent expansions in computing power to replace legacy air monitoring systems.
“This effort is a technology leap forward for Homeland Defense command and control systems,” NORAD and U.S. Northern Command Gen. Glen VanHerck recently said.
NORAD and Northern Command have held other early tests of the JADC2 operational concept. At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic when Northern Command troops were deployed to field hospitals around the country, the command was able to pilot the tech to monitor COVID-19 infection spread.