Felmlee part of new collaboration with U.S., UK governments, industry and academia

A new collaboration between IBM, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense, and leading industry and academic partners, including Penn State, has been formed in the area of Distributed Analytics and Information Science, or DAIS. 

This DAIS International Technology Alliance will work on developing the fundamental underpinning research required to enable secure, dynamic, semantically aware, distributed analytics for situational understanding in coalition operations.

“As information gathering and transfer capabilities continue their rapid growth, there’s a high risk for information overflow for analysts assisting our military operations.  This would greatly hamper the ability of the military to make use of critical current information when guiding operations,” Thomas La Porta, Evan Pugh Professor, William E. Leonhard Chair and director of Penn State’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science said. “The U.S. Army Research Lab and UK Ministry of Defense have assembled a world-class interdisciplinary team to solve research problems to enable distributed secure analytics that will help solve the information overflow problem and provide the best information to the right location in a timely manner. “

In addition to Penn State, the academic and industry partners include IBM, the University of California, Los Angeles; University of Massachusetts Amherst; Purdue University; Raytheon BBN Technologies; Stanford University; Yale University; Airbus Group; BAE Systems; Cardiff University, Wales; Imperial College London; University of Southampton, England; and University College London.

“It is gratifying to witness this transnational collaboration of top quality organizations on data analytics; arguably the most powerful tool for both intellectual inquiries and practical applications,” Amr Elnashai, the Harold and Inge Marcus dean of engineering said. “I am delighted that Penn State Engineering is at the core of this impressive alliance. I am also delighted to see this formal collaboration between my alma mater, Imperial College London, and my current academic home, Penn State. This alliance has my full support.”

La Porta said it was important for Penn State to join the alliance for two reasons: to contribute solutions to problems critical to our country in both the networking and social fields; and to give faculty and students the opportunity to stay at the forefront of their research careers by working with top experts in academia, industry and government.

Diane Felmlee, professor of sociology and Population Research Institute associate at Penn State, is utilizing her expertise in social network analysis and modeling to focus on the social aspects of the project.

“Penn State has a proud history of mobilizing resources in pursuit of some of the most critical analytical and policy topics of the day, such as those tackled by this project,” she added.

She said that the group would work to better understand how international coalitions change and evolve to handle continually shifting situations.

According to the U.S. ARL, this alliance is a necessity to help people and technologies that are deployed and increasingly burdened by adversaries who have access to advanced communications, information and analytics technologies.

“It is important for industry, academia and government to collaborate on this to advance distributed analytics,” La Porta explained. “Each of the three types of participant brings a different perspective.  The government brings realism to the problem definitions, and has a wealth of experience in solving these problems.  Industry has expertise and experience in developing research solutions and evolving them into useful, practical systems.  Academia provides a wealth of research background and creativity through faculty and students, and can look at problems in new ways.  All three types of organizations bring excellent researchers to bear on the problems.”

The U.S. ARL said in a statement that the end goal of the alliance is for these groups to successfully collaborate to “ significantly advance the state of the art in distributed analytics and information sciences in order to impact and enhance future military coalition operations.”