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DARPA seeks continued funding for biometric, analytic tech for warfighters

DARPA seeks continued funding for biometric, analytic tech for warfighters

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) outlined a few programs utilizing biometrics and data analytics in the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget Justification Book Volume 1 of 5, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Defense-Wide.

One of DARPA’s programs under its “Mission Description and Budget Item Justification” is the Causal Exploration of Complex Operational Environments initiative, which falls beneath its Tactical Technology, Information Analytics Technology program. DARPA is requesting $24.3 million for FY 2019, compared to $25.6 million in FY 2018.

The Causal Exploration of Complex Operational Environments program is developing advanced modeling, analysis, simulation, and visualization tools to enable command staffs to rapidly and effectively design, plan, and manage missions in complex, hybrid operational environments.

DARPA said the program is working to develop “technology for analyzing data and information arising from: intelligence networks; open and other external sources; sensors and signal/image processors; and collection platforms and weapon systems,” noting that, “Technical challenges include the need to process huge volumes of diverse, incomplete, and uncertain data in tactically-relevant timeframes.”

“Efforts address problems related to causal modeling, automated model construction, media integrity, graph matching, biometrics-based health assessment, domain-specific search, enterprise network defense, social media analysis, and visualization,” DARPA said, pointing out that, “Operational benefits include deeper understanding of the evolving operational environment tailored to the needs of commanders at every echelon.”

“Promising technologies are evaluated in the laboratory and demonstrated in the field to facilitate transition,” the agency said.

DARPA explained that, “The US military increasingly operates in remote and unstable parts of the world where mission success depends heavily on cooperation with a wide variety of stakeholder groups on civil, economic, and military matters. These groups typically include host nation government organizations, local civilian groups, and non-governmental organizations, each of which has priorities, sensitivities and concerns that may differ significantly. Current mission design and planning technologies do not adequately model the range of options or the inherent uncertainties. This program will develop tools to create causal, computational models that represent the most significant relationships, dynamics, interactions, and uncertainties of the operational environment including political, military, economic, and social factors. These tools will enable command staffs to design and quantitatively assess potential courses of action in complex operational environments.”

The FY 2018 plans include:

• Developing technologies for populating knowledge bases with extracted entities, events and relationships in selected operational environments;

• Developing information integration and scenario modeling frameworks and interfaces to support operational design and planning for complex hybrid warfare environments;

• Developing interfaces for rapidly visualizing and evaluating models and likely outcomes of alternative courses of action; and

• Implementing, executing, and assessing models that support the design of representative hybrid missions.

DARPA did not outline its FY 2019 plans for this program.

DARPA also is requesting nearly $20 million for its Warfighter Analytics Using Smartphones for Health (WASH) initiative.

The WASH program is developing analytic techniques for continuous and real-time assessment of warfighter physiological health and cognitive state based on the multiple sensor data streams generated by modern smartphones.

DARPA explained that, “Recent research in the area of smartphone biometrics has shown the feasibility of measuring user physiological and behavioral parameters for purposes of user authentication. WASH will extend these smartphone biometrics to reliably measure additional user physiological and behavioral parameters relevant to health assessment and the diagnosis of disease.”

“If successful,” DARPA stated, “WASH will produce a mobile application that continuously and reliably assesses warfighter health and combat/mission readiness.”

WASH is being coordinated with the Naval Health Research Center and the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch.

Its FY 2018 plans include developing a privacy framework and privacy processes appropriate for smartphone-based physiological health and cognitive state assessment, as well as developing “data analytics for extracting context from smartphone sensor data” and identifying “promising digital biomarkers for physiological conditions and cognitive state.”

The FY 2019 plans include:

• Developing secure, privacy-preserving, cloud-based data ingest and storage technologies for collecting, organizing, and associating user smartphone, physiological health, and behavioral data;

• Developing a mobile application to capture user smartphone data passively and securely, and to compute digital biomarkers; and

• Perform assessments of sensitivity and specificity of smartphone-based digital biomarkers for detection and diagnosis of physiological disease and assessment of cognitive state.

DARPA said, “The FY 2019 increase [over the FY 2018 $15 million] reflects continued work to develop techniques to capture user smartphone data and to assess user physiological health and cognitive state and additional work to assess performance of techniques.”

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