Annex C — Data-driven advanced technologies

There are a number of advanced technologies that are quickly transforming industry and government and have the potential to provide value to DND/CAF. These technologies are often highly reliant on access to high-quality, voluminous data to operate at maximum effectiveness. In many cases, DND/CAF is already exploring that potential, such as in autonomous vehicles (i.e. drones); however, to truly exploit the potential of these technologies, DND/CAF needs to provide high-quality, well-defined data as an input:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI): A system, or component of a system, which emulates aspects of human cognition such as perception, reasoning, planning, and learning such that it can enable actions either digitally or through the powering of physical systems. A subset of AI, machine learning, uses programs that can teach themselves to learn and act. To realize the benefits of artificial intelligence, large datasets that are largely removed of bias are required; the data can be structured or unstructured, depending on the particular need.
  • Autonomous vehicles: Sometimes known as drones, autonomous vehicles can be anything from cars to small quadcopters that can operate in air, in water, on land, and underground either semi-autonomously (using remote controls) or autonomously (using onboard computers). DND/CAF is already exploring the use of air-based drones and water-based drones as targets in training, and as platforms for surveillance. To realize the benefits of autonomous vehicles, unstructured geospatial data and metadata needs to be of high quality, easily accessible, and readily available.
  • Augmented reality (AR): In augmented reality, the real world is blended with the virtual world using audio or visual overlays of contextual data. In effect, a user wearing ARenabled smart glasses would be able to see the real world with an additional overlay of data to help make real-time decisions. Examples where it might be used in DND/CAF are in warehouses to help pick relevant items, or on deployment to provide directions to personnel. To realize the benefits of augmented reality, metadata (e.g. geospatial data) and master data need to be of high quality, easily accessible, and readily available.
  • Virtual reality / simulation: In virtual reality and simulations, specialized equipment allows users to interact with three-dimensional environments or images. DND/CAF is already using simulation to train pilots, but there is additional potential to train DND/ CAF personnel in a variety of maneuvers and techniques such as materiel repair and explosive detonation using virtual reality. To realize the benefits of virtual reality and simulation, metadata (e.g. geospatial data) and master data need to be of high quality, easily accessible, and readily available.
  • Robotics: Robots are machines that have enhanced sensing and control that are used to automate or augment activities. Once used primarily in manufacturing, robots are increasingly being used for other applications. DND/CAF already uses robots for explosive detonation, but there is also the potential to use them in warehouses for stowing and picking. To realize the benefits of robotics, master data, transactional data, and geospatial data need to be of high quality, easily accessible, and readily available.
  • Additive manufacturing: Sometimes known as 3D printing, additive manufacturing creates three-dimensional objects by “printing” successive layers of materials. The layering is based on detailed digital models, and now can use a variety of materials including plastic, metal, and even glass. DND/CAF is exploring using additive manufacturing to create just-in-time and on-demand materiel replacement parts. To realize the benefits of additive manufacturing, detailed digital representations of the desired output using unstructured data images are required.
  • Biometrics: Biometrics uses physical characteristics (such as fingerprints, retina prints, voice prints) to uniquely identify and authenticate individuals. CAF already uses some biometrics to identify members, and DND/CAF uses biometrics such as facial recognition in intelligence. To realize the benefits of biometrics, easily accessible and readily available large repositories of unstructured data (e.g. of fingerprints, voice prints, pictures of faces) is required.
  • Intelligence Mission Data (IMD): Future military platforms will have tremendous data requirements to enable the full capability of the platform’s offensive and defensive weapon systems. Geographic, Order of Battle, Electronic Warfare, Technical characteristics, and Signature intelligence are all required so that these platforms can navigate, detect, identify, evade, and engage the enemy. The CAF/DND is exploring how to collect, store, and share the associated complex data sets as they pertain to potential foreign threat systems, but also our own data and those of friendly or noncombatants in order to optimize the performance of our future systems. This IMD effort effects all environments and will not only require a data governance structure but also a new capability by which we reprogram Canadian Military platforms with operationally critical data.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): The IoT is a network of connected devices such as sensors, vehicles, appliances, that have the capability to collect, exchange and act on data. Sensors in particular provide additional data gathering opportunities in locations where it is difficult to place larger devices, such as inside engines. DND/CAF is already exploring the greater use of sensors and connected devices in materiel preventative maintenance.
  • Blockchain: A blockchain is a distributed ledger that maintains a record of all transactions using hashing to authenticate and validate transactions reliably and anonymously. The resulting blockchain is considered a single version of the truth. There is potential for DND/CAF to use blockchain approaches to manage its supply chain, or certify the airworthiness of its planes.
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