The Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) “Meeting Security Challenges through Data Analytics and Decision Support” was held in Aghveran, Armenia, 1–5 June, 2015.
An ARW is one of many types of funded group support mechanisms established by the NATO Science Committee to contribute to the critical assessment of existing knowledge on new and important topics, to identify directions for future research, and to promote close working relationships between scientists from different countries and with different professional experiences.
The NATO Science Committee was approved at a meeting of the Heads of Government of the Alliance in December 1957, subsequent to the 1956 recommendation of the “Three Wise Men” – Foreign Ministers Lange (Norway), Martino (Italy) and Pearson (Canada) on Non-Military Cooperation in NATO. The NATO Science Committee established the NATO Science Programme in 1958 to encourage and support scientific collaboration between individual scientists and to foster scientific development in its Member States. In 1999, following the end of the Cold War, the Science Programme was transformed so that support is now devoted to collaboration between Partner-country and NATO-country scientists or contributing to research support in Partner countries. Since 2004, the Science Programme has been further modified to focus exclusively on NATO Priority Research Topics (i.e., Defence Against Terrorism or Countering Other Threats to Security) and also preferably on a Partner country priority area. The objective of this particular ARW was to promote and enhance cooperation and dialogue between NATO and Partner countries on the application of Intelligent Decision Support methodologies and technologies to predict, assess and cope with threat in three very important areas:
• Counter Terrorism
• Maritime and border security
• Cyber security.
Our world consists of an interlocking set of Socio-Technical Organizations (STOs), also referred to in the literature as Cyber Physical Social Systems (CPSS), which consist of interacting adaptive heterogeneous agents capable of learning; in other words: a large number of groups of people hyperlinked by information channels and interacting with computer systems, which themselves interact with a variety of physical systems in order to maintain them under conditions of good control. Data deluge is contextual to complex CPSS dynamic environments, and can cause information overload for decision makers. Information overload is a problem in every CPSS, and efforts to confront this problem have been ongoing in many countries, however, these efforts have been more extensive and have been going on for a significantly longer time in most NATO countries. Such efforts have also been more intensive in defence and security applications, for which the problem of dealing with an avalanche of heterogeneous and uncertain information is the most pressing.
In both defence and civilian domains, a confluence of advances in the computer and mathematical sciences has unleashed unprecedented capabilities for enabling decision-making support. These capabilities, grouped under the terms ‘information fusion’ and ‘analytics’, are making possible the large-scale capture of data and the transformation of that data into insights and recommendations to support decisions about challenging problems in science, society, and government. The ultimate goal of information fusion is to make sense of the data. The general business and industry domain has been using the term ‘analytics’ to describe the pursuit of roughly the same goal. Both, information fusion and analytics are the application of computer science and technology, operations research, cognitive engineering and mathematics to support human understanding of complex situations and guide a proper response.
Managing the complexity of understanding situations is a challenge which is compounded by the wide spectrum and diversity of data, which have to be processed, fused and eventually transformed into actionable information. The data explosion came about with the advent of advanced sensing, and the diversity and volume of data from multiple sources and forms (unstructured and open sources, voice records, photos, video sequences, etc.). Decision makers and analysts are finding it impossible to cope with the flow of material, with potentially severe consequences on the quality of decisions and operational processes. At the same time, the state-of-the-art of the technologies supporting agile decision-making and actions in dealing with big data must continuously evolve to accommodate the evolving operational requirements for cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders and jurisdictions, with a consequent exponential increase in information sources and their characteristics. In most applications, the state-of-the-art in such technologies is still a long way from being able to support all the requirements for coping with the volume of information, or being of any help with efficient decision making, even where it is significantly more advanced in NATO countries.
This Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) aimed to promote and enhance cooperation and dialogue between NATO and Partner countries on the subject of effective decision support for security applications. The aim of the ARW is to help:
• to exchange existing knowledge on Decision Support as applied to Counter-Terrorism, Cyber Defence, Border and Port Security, as well as building networks among scientists from NATO and its Partner countries, facilitating the advance of the state-of-the-art in these domains.
• to understand the impact on the defence and security community of search engine companies such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft, which have created an entirely new business by capturing the information freely available on the World Wide Web and making it useful to people – including, of course, the defence community.
This ARW involved both technology and domain experts in the areas of Counter-Terrorism, Cyber Defence, Border and Port Security, and Information fusion. A significant observation of previous similar NATO ASIs and ARWs has been that the domain experts (personnel from various organizations responsible for counterterrorism and maritime security) have little understanding of the wide variety of technological solutions that are available, and the way they can enhance the performance of such support systems. Similarly, although technology experts have a general understanding of the requirements in various security systems, they don't have visibility into aspects of operations and implementation such as constraints and specific issues related to a variety of factors (policy, geopolitical, legal, personnel, training, etc.). The attendance of many leading scientists with backgrounds in a variety of contributing disciplines from many countries – domain experts as well as other participants – provided an opportunity for them to improve mutual understanding. The participants become cognizant of the specific requirements and issues of CPSS as well as the technical advances pertinent to the collaborative human-centric information support systems in a variety of applications exploitable in their respective countries.
The ARW programme included presentations and break-out sessions, in which smaller groups of participants discussed the information provided during the presentation sessions and brainstormed on specific challenges and solutions for the problems related to the specific area of their domain expertise.
Because of the interdisciplinary character of the subject and the very different backgrounds and expertise of participants, the editors of this book were faced with difficult decisions, such as:
• dealing with the different styles and structures of papers written by domain experts, technologists, and practitioners
• dealing with the different levels of maturity of technology presented by participants from different countries
• accepting papers that discussed technological methods without providing explicit discussion of how they might be applied to the topics of this ARW
• accepting papers describing methodologies that are not always consistent with the views of the editors.
Participants representing Armenia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Georgia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Moldavia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and the USA contributed to this ARW. A distinguished group of experts was assembled, and the technical programme was organized with the generous and very capable assistance of the Organizing Committee, composed of: NATO-country director Dr. Elisa Shahbazian (Canada), Partner-country co-director Dr. Gevorg Margarov (Armenia), Programme Chair Dr. Galina Rogova (USA), Local Arrangement Chair Dr. David Asatryan (Armenia), as well as a support team from the host country (Armenia). The organizers would like to express their deep appreciation to the ARW participants, who devoted so much of their time and talents to make this workshop successful.
We are grateful to the NATO Security Through Science Programme, which provided important financial support. The organizers are especially grateful to Dr. Michael F. Gaul, Senior Advisor, Emerging Security Challenges Division, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, for his advice and support both in the technical organization of the ARW programme as well as in coping with various organizational challenges of the event.
The Organizing committee would specifically like to thank:
• the students and staff of Information Security & Software Development Department of the National Polytechnic University of Armenia, who contributed in every way to ensure a successful event by helping to find a venue with excellent conference facilities, affordable accommodation and meals, as well as providing very competent local support during the ARW
• the management of the Best Western Aghveran Hotel, who not only ensured comfortable day-to-day support during the ARW, but also contributed with advice and the organization of social activities for participants.
A very special acknowledgement goes to Ani Shahbazian, who undertook the very challenging task of performing the English language editing of all the lecturers' manuscripts and producing a camera-ready document for the publisher.
And, finally, all of our thanks go to the people of Armenia, who certainly displayed, in every way, their warmth and hospitality.