Why is this important? The intelligence community deals with such a large amount of data, you can’t always assume people who have the “need to know,” and who should have access to the data, have seen all of the available information on any topic. The challenge of the intelligence professional is to rapidly sort through all of the data in order to develop usable intelligence analysis, enabling decision makers and warfighters to make informed decisions. Depending on the scenario, these decisions sometimes have to be made within minutes. Sometimes seconds.

I talked about this some in my last article (CENTCOM and the ISIS Threat – Was there a Politicization of Intelligence?), but a 2007 figure indicated that every 24 hours the intelligence community collected one billion pieces of data. In that same year speaking at an unclassified conference in Chicago, Dr. Michael Wertheimer, the then Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Transformation & Chief Technology remarked:


“Of the data we’re collecting, that is genuinely intel, not fluff – it’s already been filtered and selected – we’re only analyzing about one ten-millionth of the data we’re collected today; one ten-millionth. Now, that number could be completely wrong. I think I got the number of zeros right, and if I’m not right it was either right a year ago or it will be right in the next year. That’s how fast it’s growing.”

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