How AI is Revolutionizing Close-Combat Operations: Part II

Author: Rob Albritton, Senior Director, AI Center of Excellence

In Part I of this series, we mentioned briefly how the ways in which AI is helping to manage data at the tactical edge. We said CX Search and other open source geospatial applications can help solve the problem of disseminating data in meaningful ways to our warfighters in austere environment with limited connectivity. Now let’s take a look at CX Search itself.

What is CX Search ?

CX Search is an AI powered tool that transforms existing intelligence search and discovery capabilities by combining sophisticated geospatial indexing with natural language processing (NLP), an AI technology used to aid computers in understanding human spoken language and turning that language into executable commands. In the case of CX Search, the objective was to make data searchable, discoverable, retrievable, and shareable by allowing the user to employ natural language as the primary mechanism for entering search queries. Built on top of Octo’s open source Distribute Data Framework (DDF) product, CX Search breathes new life into legacy systems, makes data easily searchable, and is available at a fraction of the cost of proprietary systems.  

History of CX Search

After developing DDF, Octo developed Alliance, the first open source software to support international standards for discovery and retrieval of geospatial intelligence across thousands of intelligence systems. Alliance powers several U.S. intelligence programs and those of our Five Eye partners (the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). As a common data layer that abstracts users and services from proprietary systems and underlying data structures, Alliance enables rapid integration to get data where it needs to be in the enterprise.  

Alliance fully supports open standards from industry and government. What’s more, it is incredibly secure. By using open source technology, the system can be deployed at scale, and an entire ecosystem of capabilities can be developed quickly and shared between enterprises.  

CX Search was born out of a reimagining of the user experience in the Alliance capability. CX Search provides a new, powerful interface allowing users to construct precise queries, define criteria for the information desired, and interact with data across their enterprise and beyond. 

CX Search builds on the interface of the innovative Alliance application, incorporating features like NLP to advance functionality, usability, and interoperability while maintaining simplicity. The inclusion of NLP as the means of entering search queries increases the accessibility of a system’s data and greatly opens the aperture on the number and types of people who can use the system effectively. What previously would have required a database expert or someone trained on a proprietary system to know how to enter the various selections necessary to build a detailed and relevant search query, NLP makes Alliance usable to anyone authorized who has a simple question about what data they need. Users can now simply enter natural queries like, “Show me imagery in Aleppo, Syria over the last six weeks,” and those results will surface, ready for further exploration.

Benefits of CX Search

High bandwidth not required

CX Search can run across low bandwidth comms, making it accessible even to those in austere environments. The U.S. Navy uses the replication/synchronization capabilities in such conditions. Before leaving port, intelligence data specific to a ship’s area or interest is replicated from the Ashore node to the Afloat node. As the Afloat node deploys and comms are degraded or denied, the Afloat node has the data stored locally to continue the mission. When communications are restored or the ship returns to port, new data collected by the Afloat node is replicated to the Ashore node, and both instances are synchronized. This means just about anyone authorized to use the system can reach back to the enterprise to retrieve mission critical data, affording improved access to sources that have the potential to immediately influence tactical decisions. CX Search delivers decision makers with the information needed to prioritize daily work schedules, build teams, and collaborate with outside organizations.  

Accessible tool designed for any user

What makes CX Search return this data happens in the background, invisible to the user. The NLP search query entered by the user is then translated into the complex query that isolates the desired dataset. Entering these detailed queries previously took considerable time and effort. Data that was once inaccessible by anyone without database experience or substantial training is now more readily available within an agency or across agencies, enhancing discovery and retrieval capabilities within global intelligence communities. With CX Search, this data is now able to be accessed by anyone authorized to use the system. 

Configurable and flexible

While initially designed to present geospatial intelligence data, CX Search can also be configured to link to any type of database to query any type of data, including the kind of disparate data produced by the Department of Defense. Beyond that, CX Search can be configured to present structured observation management data (SOM), drug interaction data, demographic data, or consumer spending data, presenting information in a customizable output. This capability is enabled via configuration rather than customization because of its open source architecture.  

Being inherently flexible and secure, CX Search can be used with either modern systems or with legacy systems, transforming them by making data accessible through its open architecture, as well as at a cost savings, thanks to use of open source software. Rather than having to spend significant capital to purchase an entirely new system, CX Search can link to legacy databases to add new capability at a fraction of the cost.  

With the amount and various types of data being collected by companies, our military, and our government overall, the only way to maximize the use of this data is to put it in the hands of those farthest forward in the organization. As referenced in Part I of this article, for the military that means putting low power computing capability in the hands of the forward most elements. For the government that means putting the latest information in the hands of those interacting with our nation’s citizens, particularly in times of national emergency like hurricane, earthquake, or pandemic relief activities. CX Search and other AI-driven solutions enable these forward most elements to maximize their value on the battlefield, or in support of our nation’s citizens.

While AI continues to be researched as a data collection and analytics tool for our warfighters and advancements are being made every day, Octo is leading the way with AI powered solutions such as CX Search and more. For more information on our AI capabilities, contact a member of our team.