Data analytics and automation are key engines for Federal agencies’ future innovation, according to a panel of CIOs at today’s GDIT Emerge.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) CIO John Zangardi, National Intelligence Deputy CIO La’Naia Jones, and U.S. Army Deputy CIO Gregory Garcia touched upon the roles that big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud technology play in innovating for their respective agencies and departments.

But the root challenge that the three spoke about was the challenge of analyzing and integrating data into automated tools and applications that can accelerate and secure the missions they strive toward.

Jones said that the intelligence community has worked toward using automated intelligence-using machines (AIM) to see how it can use AI machine learning to overcome agencies’ obstacles. In doing so, the mission around data has moved from tagging data to understanding it and keeping pace with the amount of produced data so the intelligence community can leverage tools and applications accelerate its processes through automation.

Zangardi echoed Jones saying that – amid seas of data – having automated tools to help process data will help DHS immensely, and he added that’s where he’s looking to industry for help.

“How do we proceed in an environment where we’re data-rich, but analyst short?” Zangardi said. “We have to put in place, at least along the business side, an intelligent automation approach.”

Using automation to cover low-value work is also important for DHS in its cybersecurity initiatives, Zangardi added, so that personnel can focus on high-value work and prevent cybersecurity from getting muddled as the department adopts new technologies and solutions.

Garcia said that AI is becoming an increasingly important tool to the Army, and that to avoid getting lost in the data needed to direct AI capabilities the Army created a chief data analytics officer position to help turn data into intelligible fuel for automated solutions.

And like Zangardi said, Garcia added that having the foundation for personnel to focus on continuous cybersecurity assessment of the constantly evolving and running AI algorithms is key to bolstering security.

Jones emphasized automation in creating cybersecurity frameworks, too. She said that the intelligence community’s emerging cybersecurity implementation plan will have automation embedded in its cyber processes, tools, and applications.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.