To see how the intelligence community is adapting to changing trends in technology and world order, look no further than its massive IT modernization project IC ITE, or the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise.
The whole effort is really the next-generation environment for the IC, Peder Jungck, intelligence and security sector CTO at BAE Systems, told C4ISRNET in an interview at DoDIIS Worldwide 2017, held in St. Louis, Missouri.
At the heart of the IC ITE project, Jungck said, is allowing analysts and IC employees to get anywhere, and to do that they need a desktop. They need a system to log into that’s got a cloud behind it that runs email, in this case SharePoint.
BAE is the prime contractor for the desktop environment (DTE), a key component of the IC ITE initiative rolled out in recent years. What BAE is building is the cloud to make that happen, Jungck said. BAE wanted to create a better user experience for the analyst, he added, equating the effort to the iPhone and app store.
This new model will enable icons on the desktop enabling analysts to access analytics capabilities, a homepage that shows apps or features the individual analyst might be interested in, as well as recommendations of new apps that might fit their mission interest.
Enabling the user experience was the on-ramp to show what BAE Systems does well being the platform provider, Jungck said.
BAE already has sensor systems that are forward deployed along with analysts to make sense of that data. For them, the efforts associated with IC ITE was the linkage between these two parts of their company.
Jungck explained how BAE has tried to recognize the next generation of the system integrator. What happened in previous years, he said, was in a lot of cases there was partnership with the community but many solutions were piece parted because one company said they could do one aspect really well and another company said they could do something really well, which lead to multiple solutions.
“We’re getting back to solving large-scale problems,” Jungck said, such as how to bring intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from theater, process it and deliver it to an analyst and a system because the community can’t spend 10 years figuring out how to hook all the parts together.
“What we’ve focused on … is back to how do you deal with this solution as a whole,” he said.
Some of the challenges associated with such a revolutionary undertaking within the IC are not merely technical, but cultural and policy-oriented. For example, Jungck said something as seemingly mundane as how many seconds should a screensaver lock on one’s screen becomes an issue.
Getting the number of parties to agree is a challenge. Some might say it should be a minute because an operator can’t walk away from their desk for 15 seconds and come back and have to log back in because they might miss something on the screen. Somebody else might say the environment is such that they don’t want someone to get up from their desk and allow someone else to be able to sit down and start typing. Some say it should be 10 seconds, others say two minutes, while a another group believes five minutes based on the environment, Jungck said.
Jungck also equated the situation to choosing ice cream at an ice cream parlor. If defining out of the gate vanilla ice cream, he said, he understands that one is going to want chocolate with sprinkles but two others want strawberry and want it to be soy-based. That was where they had to design for that adaptability and figure that out, he said.
That’s what really lead to the amount of engineering and that’s also why they couldn’t take any of the existing systems and iterate to that amount of design flexibility, that amount of policy flexibility or the type of resilience and security roles.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.