Investigating Performance Variability in Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination using a Socio-technical Systems Analysis Approach

Danczyk, J., Wollocko, A., Farry, M., and Voshell, M.

Presented at SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing, Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, MD (April 2016)

Data collection processes supporting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions have recently undergone a technological transition accomplished by investment in sensor platforms. Various agencies have made these investments to increase the resolution, duration, and quality of data collection, to provide more relevant and recent data to warfighters. However, while sensor improvements have increased the volume of high-resolution data, they often fail to improve situational awareness and actionable intelligence for the warfighter because it lacks efficient processing, exploitation, and dissemination and filtering methods for mission-relevant information needs. The volume of collected ISR data often overwhelms manual and automated processes in modern analysis enterprises, resulting in underexploited data, insufficient, or lack of answers to information requests. The outcome is a significant breakdown in the analytical workflow. To cope with this data overload, many intelligence organizations have sought to re-organize their general staffing requirements and workflows to enhance team communication and coordination, with hopes of exploiting as much high-value data as possible and understanding the value of actionable intelligence well before its relevance has passed.

Through this effort, we have taken a scholarly approach to this problem by studying the evolution of processing, exploitation, and dissemination, with a specific focus on the US Army’s most recent evolutions using the Functional Resonance Analysis Method. This method investigates socio-technical processes by analyzing their intended functions and aspects to determine performance variabilities. Gaps are identified and recommendations about force structure and future R&D priorities to increase the throughput of the intelligence enterprise are discussed.

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