Nov 17 2015

Exploring the Pentagon’s IoT Potential

The Internet of Things offers certain benefits, but can they surpass the barriers?

With the government pushing to maximize the wide-reaching power of the Internet, it’s natural that the Department of Defense would want to follow suit. With the Department of Defense concerned that it’s losing ground to emerging threats, it’s eager to take advantage of all that the Internet of Things (IoT) offers. But experts say that internal changes must take place for the DOD to access the IoT’s full potential.

IoT devices posses a degree of autonomy that aligns with the DOD’s “third offset strategy,” FCW reports. This initiative was organized to strengthen the advantage over opponents that the agency feels is dwindling. The new strategy involves utilizing machine learning that will make operations more efficient.

“When you are operating against a cyberattack or an electronic warfare attack...or missiles that are coming screaming in at you at Mach 6, you're going to have to have a learning machine that helps you solve that problem right away,” deputy defense secretary Robert Work said, according to FCW.

However, the adoption of machine learning hinges on the military’s internal changes. Retired Gen. James Cartwright told FCW the Pentagon must learn how to collaborate with machines, and the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff added that this will require “a common language that allows us to partner with all of these self-aware, self-learning entities out there.”

An obstacle to the DOD utilizing the IoT is the lack of DOD policies able to expedite this collaboration process, as the agency’s legacy systems lack “interoperability.” Another concern is the security vulnerability that the IoT creates. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is responsible for setting the government’s IT benchmarks, and earlier this year, Ron Ross, one of the agency’s Computer Security Division fellows, said public and private computer systems would “always be accessible,” due to the IoT.

Although the IoT represents progress for the DOD, it remains a challenge.


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