Army innovation exchange lab for data reference architecture expected to fully launch soon

By Dan Schere / January 11, 2024 at 3:41 PM

(Editor's Note: This story was updated on Jan. 12 to correct a quote from Jennifer Swanson about the status of the TITAN program.)

As the Army continues to make progress on implementing its Unified Data Reference Architecture (UDRA) plan, the service will soon launch its innovation exchange lab to test and refine industry capabilities.

UDRA is the Army’s framework for simplifying data architecture, using a decentralized “data mesh” approach. The lab, which will be at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, was announced last year by service officials as a place for industry vendors to “plug in” and see if their solutions are compatible.

Jennifer Swanson, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for data, engineering & software, said during an event hosted by the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association in McLean, VA Thursday that there was recently a “soft launch” for the innovation exchange lab.

“It is up, but not completely available to everybody. . . . We want to make sure before we open up to everybody that we have our processes straight, and . . . it's going to be efficient and effective,” she said.

Swanson said that UDRA version 1.0 is now complete, and the Army is more than halfway done in its implementation plan of the architecture. This month, the service will embark on a 100-day plan to “identify specific programs to begin implementing UDRA to the extent possible and will include roadmaps to make significant progress in” fiscal year 2024, an accompanying slide stated.

Swanson also said Thursday that the Army is focusing on data rights for the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN) -- the service’s first intelligence ground station enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning. TITAN will be one of the first programs to be utilized by Project Linchpin, which is the Army’s new initiative to create an AI/ML pipeline.

TITAN has developed an application programming interface (API) to “ensure open architectures,” according to Swanson.

“We want to be able to bring solutions in. But we need to be able to own the pieces, we need to own to change out those solutions over time and TITAN is getting after that in their approach,” she said.