HomeNewsArticle Display

AFRL leverages Squadron Innovation Funds to develop Human-Centered Data Analytics Environment

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- Researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing here are utilizing a new funding authority to begin designing and building a Human-Centered Data Analytics Environment that will help them store and operationalize huge amounts of both research and operational data.

The volume of data collected during Air Force research endeavors and operations is vast, and human analysis alone is too slow to achieve the decision speed required to win in the information age of warfare.

In February, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein announced that Air Force units would receive a new funding authority to accelerate implementation of the National Defense Strategy, with the funds being used for Airmen-led innovations that increase readiness, reduce cost, return time back to Airmen or enhance lethality of the force, according to an Air Force news story.

In fiscal year 2018, the Air Force distributed $64 million in Squadron Innovation Funds across the service to reduce resource barriers that prevent ingenuity. Air Force Materiel Command executed more than $4.6 million in Squadron Innovation Funds during the fiscal year, with the 711th HPW receiving $250,000 to launch their Human-Centered Data Analytics Environment project.

“It is well understood among Air Force leadership that data is a growing strategic asset, and we need to take advantage of our own data,” said Dr. Ryan Kramer, Explainable AI lead within the 711 HPW’s Airman Systems Directorate.

Kramer also leads a Commander’s Research Development Funds program that is looking at the integration of analytics, machine learning, and AI approaches for multiple use cases, not just at the 711 HPW but across several AFRL technology directorates.

In data analytics, 80 percent of the work you do is actually getting the data and structuring it in a way that you can run models on, Kramer emphasized.

“We do that on the machine learning and AI side, where we’re trying to formulate complex models that describe complex-use cases,” said Kramer. “The first step of running data analytics and machine learning is fusing together all available informative data. It typically exists in stovepipes across the Air Force enterprise, whether it be operational data, research data or open-source data that resides in online databases that all potentially inform some of the more complex questions we’re trying to answer.”

According to Todd Overman, who oversees many of the project’s business aspects as civilian executive officer at the 711th HPW, the innovation funds were geared to understand how to take advantage of that.

“We deal with a lot of human data, and there are rules covering how this data is handled and protected,” Overman added. “We have to be cognizant of that as we design our data environments. Our data includes a lot of personally identifiable information and protected health information, so we must ensure proper protections are in place for any new system.”

Researchers from across AFRL are currently working together to analyze software that has already been developed so they don’t have to go back and “reinvent the wheel,” Kramer said, adding, “But really, the most important thing is how do we take those open architectures and ensure that they meet our security requirements?”

There are two components to the efforts for this project according to Kramer, who earned his degree in molecular genetics and bioinformatics.

“First, we are building a data architecture environment that can handle and fuse multiple streams of data on-demand in a data lake model,” he said. “That enables us to combine operational data and research data together to assess its immediate value. Second, we don’t want to just build that architecture. We want to be able to prove it out and show value with very specific use cases.”

In support of the second component, Kramer and his fellow researchers at the 711th HPW are looking at suicide risk prediction.

“We’ve been supporting programs like the Air Force initiative Task Force True North, where the goal is to promote Airmen resiliency by using more proactive approaches in providing mental health support within units. Specifically, the 711 HPW project is studying the risk of suicide within Air Force active duty units,” said Kramer.

“In our initial efforts, we developed a risk stratification model that looks across the active duty population and says, ‘Ok, these squadrons over here at this base are at higher risk for suicide than these squadrons over here at this base,’” Kramer continued. “When we did that, we typically built models every twelve months or so. We would go get our data, pull it down, construct a model, and perform that risk stratification. Then we could feed that information back to Task Force True North or the Integrated Operational Support team where they could intervene with a specific squadron in a precision medicine approach.”

When running these types of analytics, it often takes six or more months to get new data, and researchers don’t always have insight into potentially emerging problems that are happening in cycles of months or weeks. The overarching goal is to reduce these analytic cycles to the point where leadership and interventional teams can have awareness of emergent problems in real time. For suicide-risk prediction, working with outdated models can result in missing potentially life-threatening circumstances that might be able to be identified with advanced analytics.

As far as where the data analytics environment should be housed, Kramer said researchers believe it should connect to the high-performance computing system at Wright-Patterson AFB.

“These complex machine learning models typically need a lot of compute power. If I have a terabyte of data and want to gain insights to it, I’m going to need that type of compute power to be able to run my methodologies and analytics to get that answer back,” he said.

So far, the 711th HPW has brought one new employee on board to start doing the autonomous modeling to understand what the overall architecture of the analytics environment should look like.

“Data is growing exponentially in every organization and our ability to exploit it is largely growing linearly,” Kramer said. “Data is a strategic asset, and if you’re not taking advantage of your own data, you’re falling behind.”

Engage

Twitter
RT @AETCommand: For the first time at @LukeAFB, AMS Airmen painted a #F16 one solid medium-gray color—a simple yet critical task that will…
Twitter
“When asked whether we still require all three of these legs of the triad, I answer, ‘we do’...we must acknowledge… https://t.co/atezdKA5tT
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: Battling #COVID; a cyber Airman’s story - https://t.co/HsJv6J7r2A #ReserveReady #ReserveResilient #ReadyAF https://t.co/y7…
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: #ReserveCitizenAirman makes life-saving decision - https://t.co/ZPviQZRrEX (Story by the @307BombWing) #ReserveReady #Rese
Twitter
The Impact of Sharing Stories of Recovery and Resiliency Lt Col Katharine McGregor did not know much about the… https://t.co/17VibuxnTc
Twitter
Many search for years to find their true passion in life. For Staff Sgt. Camrin Northrop, a firefighter for both th… https://t.co/QcNrBXPCV0
Twitter
From their homes to yours, check out the @AirNatlGuard Band of the South! #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/yb7GhZZ5A3
Twitter
Reintegration will be a deliberate & phased approach to protect Airmen & Space Professionals. Learn to maintain rea… https://t.co/egQSAV5uRB
Twitter
The MQ-1B Predator is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft used for i… https://t.co/livZYQyXnH
Twitter
Dr. Quinton Sasnett, a faculty member at Air University, talks about the university's civilian associates degree pr… https://t.co/0BgoCiGCUy
Twitter
Improving mental health through expressive writing. @KadenaAirBase https://t.co/zVoYTQQl5z
Twitter
Medical pros at Kadena Air Base, 3-D printed naso-pharyngeal swabs to test potential #COVID19 patients. The dental… https://t.co/h8q1HgLjRZ
Twitter
The MC-12W is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligen… https://t.co/st7WRJLDHB
Twitter
Know what resources, treatments & therapies are available for invisible wounds. https://t.co/H2A7fYb8s3
Twitter
“The Total Force team at Eielson plays a pivotal role that extends throughout Alaska and projects into the Arctic.”… https://t.co/7nSYEtYWHj
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: 🙌🎉 Congrats to the @usairforce's newest pilots as Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-18 graduates today at @…
Twitter
.@JointBasePHH Airmen participate in a ramp drop from a C-17 Globemaster III. The 25th Air Support Ops Squadron is… https://t.co/AZVT6Qzmgv
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: It is a pleasure to be in #Alaska to see #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals in action! Whether it’s F-35s & F-22s protectin…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,252,717
Follow Us