Five ways the Air Force, FBI’s approaches to enterprise IT are becoming more agile

Incremental updates:

“We’re not going to deploy block releases at all anymore,” said Col. Bruce Lyman, the chief of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for the Air Force’s Distributed Common Ground System. “We’ve completely adopted the agile methodology. That’s going to allow us to not only take new technology and very quickly give that to our analysts, but to add those capabilities in parallel instead of waiting for years and years to go through the usual requirements and acquisition process. We’ll be able to deploy things very quickly after we roll out the agile framework.”

Open architecture:

Last year, the Air Force Research Laboratory released an open architecture prototype version of DCGS that will permit new systems to be added in a plug-and-play fashion because of previous work the Air Force has done to standardize the way its subsystems communicate with one another. The “open” version of DCGS will be tested at five pilot locations in 2016.

Sprawling intel system is first test for Air Force’s new commitment to open architecture

After years of expensive updates to its Distributed Common Ground System via slow, grinding block upgrades, the Air Force is ready for a change and says it’s fully invested in an agile methodology for the vast intelligence analysis system.

The Air Force version of DCGS — already installed at 27 sites around the world at a cost of about $750 million each — makes up the basic backbone for processing and analyzing all the data that comes from its manned surveillance aircraft and drones plus other sensors from across the military. But until now, it’s been tough to add new tools to the system as quickly as they’re developed. Generally, they waited their turn for the next scheduled “block” of DCGS while engineers struggled to integrate them with the prime vendors’ system designs… Read more


The FBI’s new biometrics facility in Clarksburg, West Virginia is consolidating multiple modalities of biometrics and their accompanying systems, in one location.

“What it represents for us is an opportunity to harness all of our biometrics activities within the FBI under one roof,” said Stephen Morris, FBI assistant director for Criminal Justice Information Services Division. “The backbone, if you will, of that building will be our Next Generation Identification System.”

As technology improves, the capabilities of biometrics increase, and the FBI wants to leverage big data to amplify them.


With the many biometrics modalities consolidated, field agents have access to more information.

“They can take a couple of fingerprints, literally on the side of the street during a traffic stop and search against a smaller set of data that we have with NGI, and that would be the fugitives or sex offenders, or different folks that may be wanted,” Morris said.

Cross-silo implementation:

The FBI and DoD have partnered for a number of years on biometrics, with an increased focus post- 9/11. They share similar goals with different applications.

“The US government … law enforcement, our national security partners … [are] really leveraging technology to help identify individuals whether those were individuals on the battlefield or individuals travelling to our homeland,” Morris said.

So it makes sense for them to use the same systems.

FBI biometrics research could make faces the new fingerprints

While the FBI remains in the planning stages of its new headquarters construction project, the agency’s new biometrics technology center has been working on projects to build on the breakthrough successes it’s had with fingerprint technology.

By matching clues about a suspect’s physical profile — such as a voice or face — with the power of big data, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division aims to bring speed and efficiency to law enforcement investigations… Read more