Darpa program manager Michael Pagels says he could easily drown a soldier... in data, with more than 400 terabytes each day. A terabyte, from the Greek word for monster, is a thousand billion bytes or a thousand gigabytes. And 400 terabytes is the equivalent of every person in the urban Los Angeles area taking a digital photo every second for a year, noted Pagels, a program manager with the far-side agency's Information Exploitation Office.Pagels wants a new kind of map to avoid this this "death by data." One that does what our brains do automatically: create models of the world that are constantly updating to reflect our experiences.
We maintain a 4D model of the world in our heads and during every waking moment we update it with information from our senses, identifying objects, and reasoning about the relationships among those objects. It works so well in our brains, but how do we make it work in our exploitation systems?IXO colleague Robert Tenney argued that the key to this new map might be found in the phone book. By applying longitude and latitude to the telephone numbers in a given operational area, Tenney said the military can create models that indicate whether there's a market on the street around the corner or a warehouse. Useful info for a soldier on the move, assuming they have Yellow Book in Tikrit. The models would merge data from imagery and conventional maps as well.
Our Soldier in Baghdad knows where she is; GPS solves that problem, at least in terms of lat/long. Maps, perhaps updated with images, give her an address and that of the street around the corner. The telephone book tells her what's on that street around the corner: a gas station, a mosque, a firehouse, a factory, whatever.Ideally, Tenney said, all of that information would be matched up, somehow, with the knowledge of a neighborhood's recent past.
Did the beatup car come from a residence or a chop shop? Did a pedestrian come from a home or from a car that sped away? Did the fire engine come from a firehouse or a warehouse?Let's call these things "track history." In the urban world, it's good to know where a truck came from. It's good to know with whom it interacted along the way. Because this historical information can help distinguish the guy who's just picking up the trash, from the guy who's about to diealong with you, and many others...More people will be in the market during morning and afternoon on weekdays, than at night, at noontime, or on holy days. They may be expressed as travel patterns: garbage trucks have more-or-less normal routes. They may be expressed as social or business activities: neighborhood soccer games happen in the evening. All these normal behaviors, when filtered out, leave indications of abnormal behavior.Okay sounds good. But remind me again: Who puts out the Yellow Pages for Baghdad?-- Catherine Macrae HockmuthTHERE'S MORE: Richard Parent nicely illustrates the potential for these Darpa proposals. Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase is involved.