Government // Leadership
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7/10/2012
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DARPA Seeks 'Radical Innovation' In Data Analysis

Joins forces with George Mason University to host an unusual eight-week residency program where selected researchers will brainstorm new approaches.

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is planning an unusual eight-week residency program in which teams of researchers brainstorm over ways to use visual and geospatial images to identify people, places, objects, and activities.

The project, called the Innovation House Study, is being done in conjunction with George Mason University. Teams qualify for up to $50,000 in funding--$10,000 in startup costs and $20,000 for each of two phases. DARPA says the work will be done in a "short-fuse, crucible-style environment."

"We are inviting a new generation of innovators to try out ideas in an environment that encourages diverse solutions and far-out thinking," said DARPA program manager Michael Geertsen in a written statement. "If this model proves to be as successful as we believe it could be, it represents a new means for participating in government-sponsored research projects."

[ Read about another DARPA-sponsored challenge for innovators. See DARPA Seeks More Efficient Robots. ]

The goal of the program is to design and demonstrate "radical, novel" approaches to extracting meaningful content from visual and geospatial media, including the software to make it work. Teams will be given access to unclassified data, including aerial and ground-level video, high-resolution LiDAR (light detection and ranging) of urban and mountainous terrain, and unstructured amateur photos and videos. Teams can also use public data obtained from open-source and commercial repositories, the Web, and mobile phones.

The program will emphasize collaboration among participants, rather than competition, according to DARPA. Teams will have access to experts from academia and defense and intelligence agencies.

Participants must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. There are no specific academic or professional requirements, but teams may be asked to submit a statement making their case to be included in the experiment. Selected teams will be announced in August.

The residential sessions will take place in two 4-week sessions, beginning in September and ending in November. In the first session, teams will design and demonstrate proof-of-concept software capabilities. Those that advance will work on developing functional software.

The Office of Management and Budget demands that federal agencies tap into a more efficient IT delivery model. The new Shared Services Mandate issue of InformationWeek Government explains how they're doing it. Also in this issue: Uncle Sam should develop an IT savings dashboard that shows the returns on its multibillion-dollar IT investment. (Free registration required.)

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