Want to be part of the intelligence world? DARPA has a software project for you

DARPA Innovation House project recruiting software developers for content intelligence applications

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When it comes to filtering through tons of data, images and video, there just can't be enough eyes - or software programs looking to make sense of it all. 

That's at least part of the theory behind a public project the intelligence gatherers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced today that will sponsor team of developers to come up with software programs that can uniquely extract meaningful content from large volumes of visual and written media.

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The program called the Innovation House Study and conducted with George Mason University, is not one of DARPA's venerable challenges where teams compete for prize money, but rather what the agency calls a collaborative effort that could net select teams $50,000 for coming up with something truly unique.

Some specifics of the program: Each team of software developers will meet daily, five days per week, in a workspace in Arlington, Virginia, for an anticipated eight weeks  from September 17, 2012, to November 9, 2012, to explore proposed approaches. Teams will reside in lodging provided by George Mason University near the research site.  Teams will have access to mentors and visitors from academia and multiple US government agencies, including military and intelligence communities' specialists.

The study will run over eight weeks, divided into two four-week sessions. In the first session, teams are expected to produce a design and demonstrate initial software capabilities as proofs of concept for their proposed novel approaches. Those teams will get $30,000 for their effort.  Team selected for Phase two which will culminate in the demonstration a functional software program, will get an additional $20,000.

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Some other information from DARPA on the program: Teams will be provided with access to relevant, unclassified data, including various spectra of imagery, video and geospatial data. These may include:

  • Ground-level video of human activity in both urban and rural environments;
  • High-resolution wide-area LiDAR of urban and mountainous terrain;
  • Wide-area airborne full motion video; and
  • Unstructured amateur photos and videos, such as would be taken from an adversary's cell phone.

Proposals will be judged against four primary criteria:

  • Novelty of idea and approach: traditional or incremental research approaches will not be selected.
  • Potential impact on the technology base in the field: how could the proposed capability revolutionize how operators and analysts get meaning out of photos, videos and geospatial data?
  • Potential impact on the military and the intelligence community: how could the proposed capability, once hardened and widely implemented, be able to radically extend operational capabilities?
  • Realism of team capabilities: is it reasonable that a team of this background could accomplish these goals?

George Mason University anticipates selecting six to eight teams, of two or more individuals each, with total program participation of between 20-30 individuals.

Teams will retain all rights to their software but the government gets a license to use it.  More details can be found here.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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