To get more use out of data, DOD needs to cut some old sources, Air Force CIO says

"There are a lot of data sources that need to go away," Lauren Knausenberger says.
Air Force
An air traffic controller manages the inbound flights on his computer, Dec. 10, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force / Airman 1st Class Rebeckah Medeiros)

To get better use out of its data, the Department of Defense may need to actually reduce many of its data sources that are not useful in a modern context, says Lauren Knausenberger, the Air Force’s chief information officer.

The Air Force has been working to adjust to a cloud-based data storage model, and some of the old methods it used to collect will not be as useful with modern tech. Some of those old methods the department used to collect data were also just plain inaccurate, Knausenberger said Thursday during the Data Cloud Summit produced by FedScoop. The messy data practices should be left behind, she said, with many of the legacy systems and on-premises data centers the military needs to ditch.

“There are a lot of data sources that need to go away,” she said during her keynote address.

The seemingly contradictory recommendation is the result of a new direction the entire military is heading with its technology modernization schemes. The new ubiquitous phrase tech leaders repeat is their desire to use “data as a strategic asset.” The ability to make that a reality is largely dependent on the military’s ability to pull form quality data sources and have modern storage and analytical capabilities.


The use of data is not new, but its primacy and importance is. The DOD released its first ever data strategy in October. Knausenberger said she is now fast at work to build the technical architecture to better store and use data across the Air Force and with partner services.

Along with paring away some of the old sources, the Air Force has been able to use high-quality sources to improve the analytical impacts. For example, $1.5 million was saved in airplane exit door repair through predictive maintenance. By knowing to replace a door before it failed, the force saved on emergency repairs from doors that accidentally might open mid-flight.

“Using data to predict outcomes with relatively high level of confidence is another huge area here,” Knausenberger said of modernization efforts.

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