By Theresa Bradley
Behind every modeling and simulation trainer lies thousands, perhaps millions, of data points that produce the real-world training experience for which MS&T is known. But obtaining reliable and accurate data inputs is costly and time consuming.Enterprise Data Services (EDS), a program of the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, is the source of Big Data used today in a wide range of military modeling and simulation (MS&T) trainers. It gathers data to benefit users of military simulation and training devices across all branches of the military.
Robert (Rob) M. Cox, Ph.D., Assistant Program Manager, EDS, said: “If you’re hiring vendors to build MS&T scenarios, the data and information they source makes a significant difference in both cost and accuracy of the end product. If the contractor itself procures your data, that’s reflected in the price, and it can drive total cost up significantly.
“EDS provides an open-source resource available to all government users and their contractors. Why keep paying for the same thing to be made over and over again? The economies of scale obtained by this shared model result in a more realistic and accurate end product at a significant cost savings.”
The realism of MS&T trainers is a direct result of these accurate data inputs, so validating data is an essential element in the process.
Cox said: “There is an abundance of data out there that you could possibly include, and frankly that is part of the problem. You can get it, but is it updated? Is it right? Who validates it? When we’re investing millions of dollars into a mission and staking people’s lives on it, we better be sure!”
EDS uses top engineers and IT experts who have been specifically trained for that function. Data has typically been verified by several sources.
The knowledge and the advantage that accurate, detailed data gives Warfighters cannot, at this point, be matched.
In WWII, the submarine was the big secret weapon that helped determine the outcome of the war against Japanese forces. In WWI, it was U.S. “doughboys” and the 100 Day Campaign. Today, it’s Big Data.
The cost of obtaining accurate, abundant data for military trainers will become increasingly challenging as military leadership demands more realistic and sophisticated methods of readying troops within already tight budgets.
Cox said: “My organization will remain focused on building availability for all branches – gathering, validating and updating – data and information that would otherwise not be readily available, and certainly not in the timeframe it is often needed. Our primary purpose is to help ensure the end goals of all the military branches are met. It’s that simple.”