MOD AI Hackathon highlights data opportunity

Data offers so much opportunity for defence.  That is the indisputable conclusion from the two day MOD AI Hackathon held last week when sixty hackers came together to tackle four challenges set out by the UK Ministry of Defence.  Many of the hackers work for small organisations and most had not previously engaged in defence.  They brought expertise in data mining, machine learning and artificial intelligence, forming fourteen teams to build analytic models.

General Sir Chris Deverell and Kristina Murrin from the MOD, along with Alan Middleton, CEO of PA Consulting, and Andy Stanford-Clark, CTO of IBM UK, formed the judging panel.  They oversaw awards for innovation, collaboration and invitations to apply to the Defence and Security Accelerator to develop ideas further. 

The challenges that the MOD faces with data are experienced by organisations in all industry sectors.  There was recognition that data needs to be unlocked from disparate applications, and that AI can increase automation to augment those on the front line.

The four challenges were as follows:

  • Increase situational awareness in the maritime domain – teams at the hackathon focused on visualisations that flagged shipping route anomalies.
  • Improve quality of mapping – teams employed machine learning techniques to create maps automatically from imagery.
  • Offer insight to help uphold the armed forces covenant – teams analysed veteran and census data to highlight areas of inequality for mitigation.
  • Facilitate better decision making on resource utilization – teams mined data on resource utilization to offer more transparency.

The hack took place at the Geovation Hub in London, where teams built their solutions on the IBM Cloud. Some used the AI Conversation and Visual Recognition services, whilst others made use of NoSQL data and object stores undertaking data preparation, analysis and modelling in the Data Science Experience.

The hack has given the MOD momentum to drive improvements in capability by making better use of data.  These are achieved with analytics and artificial intelligence to enhance decision making and increase automation.  The IBM Cloud is intrinsically designed as a data platform as a service, augmented by AI, to embrace the era of exponential learning.

Explore the IBM Cloud including data science and AI services on G-Cloud 9.