Intelligence department solves Marine Corps biggest problems
By Sgt. Terry Brady, Defense Media Activity
Stafford, Va. -- Marines with Headquarters Marine Corps Intelligence department gave a live demonstration of new technologies Dec. 9, as part of the Marine Corps Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Enterprise Accelerator program.
“The accelerator program is focused mainly on software and IT-related problems,” said Jennifer Edgin, the Chief Technology Officer with HQMC intelligence department and the lead for MCISRE accelerator program. “The Marines identified a problem during the first week and they broke that problem down into a specifically scoped problem statement that we can develop into a software application that can be deployed at the end of 12 weeks.”
The demonstration is the culmination of more than 12 weeks of conceptualizing, designing and testing by intelligence Marines who worked on solutions to some of the Marine Corps greater intelligence problems after identifying them at a tech design meeting earlier this year.
“The first week was the design concept week, where [they started working on] a problem that was identified at the TDM [tech design meeting],” said Edgin. “When the Marines got together they broke it down and compared it with some data we have about how we’re currently operating.”
The team reached out to Marines in the intelligence community to validate the importance of the problem and came up with a design for a software application they wanted to build, according to Edgin.
“They came to Quantico the first week to brief the director of intelligence about the plan,” said Edgin. “They worked remotely while performing their job during weeks two to 11 and they came back here this week to put the final touches on their software product and outbrief the director for a release decision.”
The product of the program, currently known as Helios, is a web-based program designed to show the production process of individual requests for information, or RFI.
“We’ve identified there’s a gap between key role players within the community such as the receiving of an RFI from an RFI manager’s perspective and [we are] trying to bring the RFI and production manager of that product together to show the production cycle the customer can see visually without going through the chain or multiple phone calls,” said Staff Sgt. Brenton Spriggs, an intelligence analyst and team member with the accelerator team.
The data gathered from the application allows those within the intelligence community to share where the RFI is in the production process, so that customers, analysts and managers are constantly informed during the stages of the production process.
“Helios is pulling metadata from a currently existing tool in our community, which is the RFI manager’s tool,” said Spriggs. “We’re uploading it into it’s own application and for the first time we’re giving it a platform for the production managers to lay out their steps and give the customers a time they can expect it and where it’s at in production.
“We’re creating Helios to open up and dig deep into these production processes and bring metadata to the table to show future standardizations for how we’re going to produce in the future to save time.”
After the demonstration, a panel led by Brig. Gen. William Seely III, the Director of Intelligence at Headquarters Marine Corps, evaluated and approved the product for future development and testing.
“This is a great opportunity for the Marine Corps because it takes to heart the commandant’s objective about innovation and we’re taking that right to its limits,” said Seely. “Part of that innovation is not just an idea that we have but never execute. Now we’re taking ideas and concepts and linking Marines with developers and develop this product and prove that this is viable.”
The next evolution of the project will be testing with a limited user evaluation, which will allow Marines to test the program and give feedback.
“Marines have always been innovators and this holds true to our reputation as not just a premiere fighting force but emphasizes that we’re [innovators] and critical thinkers and we can change the way business is done,” said Seely. “ Today is about the process to cultivate gathering ideas and turning ideas into innovation.”