AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

How technology can help the intelligence community stay a step ahead

Leaders at all levels of government are continuing to think big about how they can leverage technology to modernize citizen services and better deliver on mission. Cloud is playing a foundational role in enabling this innovation.

Teresa Carlson, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector at Amazon Web Services (AWS), led a fireside chat with Andrew Hallman, Deputy Director of Digital Innovation at the CIA, at FedTalks 2019.  In the conversation, Andrew covered the need for agile adoption of the latest technologies within the CIA to compete more effectively in an increasingly complex threat landscape, the intersection of innovation and security, and CIA’s commitment to strengthening its digital acumen.

Cloud capabilities have been essential to the CIA’s personnel. “What we find with individuals who become intelligence officers in our business, they have a cloud platform that’s real exciting for them,” he said. “Because they have not only the tools, but they have really wide-open, challenging intelligence problems to work. So that’s a green field for them to come in with the services they need to do innovative work against a constantly changing threat landscape.”

Artificial intelligence and machine learning for the IC

To stay ahead of evolving threats, continuous evolution and rapid adoption of intelligence is key. Tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning are helping the intelligence community stay a step ahead.

Andrew also discussed the role of AI and ML within the intelligence community. He noted the role of these tools as “enabling the human mind” to help intelligence officers focus on their highest value activities. From the automation of routine tasks to the rapid exploitation of data, pattern recognition, and predictive analytics, these tools, he noted, are intended “to allow officers to do what they do best in their intelligence tradecraft.”

This theme was echoed a few days later at the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, DC, by Sue Gordon, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

“The prospect of artificial intelligence and machine learning is one that is necessary for us in order to be able to harness the wisdom of the collective data and to free up the capability of my officers from manual tasks to creative tasks,” said Sue. “One of the things we learned is the government does not own the space of invention for these new capabilities, but what we need to be is fast followers. As quickly as governments, or private sectors, or universities identify something that can work for us, we need to be able to bring it into our environment.”

Building a digital workforce

In order to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and advances in technology, it’s important to build a digital workforce that understands these new technologies.

“What we’ve found is those digital skills aren’t really being taught. They’re still teaching old skills, even in coding,” Teresa said in the chat with Andrew. “I feel like I’m on a mission to ensure I have every educational institution really teaching the latest and greatest skills so we are not having to retrain them.”

Building on the momentum of AWS Educate’s Cloud Degree initiative from last year, including the launch of the 19-school California Cloud offering and the cloud degree launched last year with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), AWS Educate has been working around the world to bring cloud opportunities to students through the AWS Educate Cloud Degree Initiative. The initiative is a collaborative effort between AWS Educate and leading educational institutions to develop degrees and certificates in cloud computing to prepare students from colleges, vocational schools, and technical academies for in-demand cloud jobs.

We are committed to giving our customers the tools and freedom to build. That means giving our customers the largest breadth and depth of services, from databases to machine learning and edge computing capabilities. It also means training a diverse and inclusive community of technologists to leverage these tools.

AWS, along with our partner community, stands ready to support and serve the most important intelligence community mission of protecting and securing our country.

Watch the full video above to learn more about how CIA stays on the cutting edge of technological innovation, and how they adapt to an ever-changing global threat landscape.