Mashups at the DOD
Still, the value provided to DISA by enterprise mashup tools is real.
An initial deployment of JackBe software at the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) in a project called "Overwatch" provided inspiration for DISA to deploy the JackBe Presto Enterprise Mashup Server software so that it is available across the DOD.
By taking an enterprisewide approach, DISA can see that the benefits of mashup technology are not limited to a single department but are available to U.S. military personnel globally. Information brought to light by the mashups can percolate up through the chain of command all the way to top generals and even to the commander in chief.
DISA has enabled the creation of mashups to address several distinct threats, including natural disasters, terror attacks and ballistic missile launches. Military staff can use the JackBe Presto drag-and-drop interface to customize mashups based on known mission threats in hours or minutes, depending on the need, said Mihelcic.
For example, "The Global Command and Control System has the capability to ingest information from multiple different sources. It can build a synthetic picture of good guys and bad guys worldwide," Mihelcic said. In that particular mashup, he explained, information as to the strength and whereabouts of forces is mashed up with mapping data. Allied forces are depicted in blue and hostile forces in red.
In another mapping-based mashup, DOD users are able to bring together geographic information from Google Maps and Google Earth with information about suspected IEDs (improvised explosive devices) to give troops in Iraq information about the location of possible threats.
In early 2009, DISA launched a proof of concept (known in the military as a Joint Concept Technology Demonstration, or JCTD) called the NSLDSS (National Senior Leadership Decision Support Service).
"NSLDSS can take data sources on classified DOD networks, such as data on missile warnings or the status of U.S. and foreign forces, and ingest it into a mashup for senior-level decision makers to enable them to more quickly develop courses of action and make decisions about what needs to be done," Mihelcic said.
The information is available separately as RSS feeds, but the Presto Enterprise Mashup Server correlates the information with other data to increase the value of the data. "JackBe lets you build services on an enterprise server that can be accessed by anyone," Mihelcic said.
The cost of the NSLDSS JCTD initiative is seemingly modest by military standards-about $4 million per year for three years. But if its potential is fully realized, the project will "significantly improve global situational awareness and decision quality by senior leaders, resulting in enhanced operational [effectiveness] of the DOD," Mihelcic said.