How do new and constantly evolving Big Data methodologies and techniques impact defence Modelling and Simulation and how may their increasing potential be best used? To shed light on these and other questions related to Big Data in defence, the European Defence Agency (EDA) launched the ‘Big Data in Defence Modelling and Simulation’ (BIDADEMS) study whose findings are now available and has led to a new project researching new methodologies (MODSIMMET).
While Big Data is already extensively used in the civil domain, for instance helping companies to improve decision-making based on customer spending (big) data, its potential benefits for the defence sector still needs to be explored and investigated.
Against this backdrop in September 2016, the EDA initiated the BIDADEMS study aimed at better understanding Big Data methodologies, techniques and their potential applications in the defence domain, in particular for modelling and simulation (M&S) purposes. In the M&S domain, Big Data could potentially help to provide simplified military simulation designs, generate more realistic simulation scenarios and environments, improve the exploitation of simulation results or provide new opportunities for M&S support to military test and evaluation (T&E) activities.
The study identified some emerging Big Data technologies with high potential for defence M&S (such as cloud computing, non-relational databases, data analytics or visual analytics) and formulated recommendations for the EDA and Member States’ future work in this domain, notably:
1. Future M&S applications should be designed with Cloud Computing in mind, setting up cloud based environments to provide “sandbox” test areas to analyse new data sets.
2. Further investigation into the application of Data and Visual Analytics techniques and to data analytics to M&S models focussing on:
a) Models and data available through predictive analytics as inputs for M&S models;
b) Current data mining techniques and their applicability to M&S output data.
3. Given the high innovation rate of these techniques it seems to be necessary to both inform and educate analysts on new data analytics techniques and to provide M&S developers with Big Data considerations when developing future models.
The outcome of the BIDADEMS project supported EDA’s contribution to the 2nd Annual European GeoInformation Symposium & Exhibition on Big Data and the Global Big Data Defence 2017 Summit, both held in Berlin during June 2017. Also the project has motivated the EDA’s ‘Simulation’ Capability Technology Group (CapTech) to initiate a new study, MODSIMMET, which will analyse how to approach very complex scenarios like hybrid warfare with different methodologies like Data farming and War gaming supported by Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.
The collection, storage, analysis and management of a huge amount of real and simulated data is inevitable and will increase in the future. It will be used to take advantage of existing and future related technologies. The use of Big Data tools and methodologies is likely to be a recurrent issue in the Agency where growing attention is being devoted to these innovative technologies.