Intelligence: Constant Hawk Delivers

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June 22, 2007:  Last Summer, intelligence analysts in Iraq got a new tool called Constant Hawk. It's an image analysis system that's  basically just another pattern analysis system. However, it's been a very successful system. Recently, the army named Constant Hawk one of the top ten inventions for last year. The army does this to give some of the more obscure, yet very valuable, developments some well deserved recognition.

 

Pattern analysis is one of the fundamental tools Operations Research (OR) practitioners have been using since World War II (when the newly developed field of OR got its first big workout). Pattern analysis is widely used on Wall Street, by engineers, law enforcement, marketing specialists, and now, the military. Constant Hawk uses a special video camera system to observe a locality and find useful patterns of behavior. Some of the Constant Hawk systems are mounted on light aircraft, others are mounted on ground structures. Special software compares photos from different times. When changes are noted, they are checked more closely, which has resulted in the early detection of thousands of roadside bombs and terrorist ambushes. This has largely eliminated roadside bomb attacks on supply convoys, which travel the same routes all the time. But those routes are also watched by Constant Hawk. No matter what the enemy does, the Hawk will notice.

 

Constant Hawk, like most geek stuff, does not get a lot of media attention. Mainly it's the math, and TV audiences that get uneasy watching a geek trying to explain this stuff in something resembling English. But it works, and the troops want more of it. The troops like tools of this sort mainly because the systems retain photos of areas they have patrolled, and allows them to retrieve photos of a particular place on a particular day. Often, the troops returning from, or going out on a patrol, can use the pattern analysis skills we all have, to spot something suspicious, or potentially so.

 

 

 

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