Federal government IT professionals have always been committed to serving their fellow citizens. Long before there were IT departments or computers, federal employees were exploring ways to innovate and improve citizen services.
For example, in the 1880s the Census Bureau struggled to efficiently process data from a growing U.S. population. Bureau employee Herman Hollerith found a new way to process the increasingly large quantities of data the Bureau had collected during the 1880 census. Hollerith automated the tallying of data with a tabulating machine that became known as the Hollerith Machine and reduced processing tabulation time by nearly 900 percent.
In the 20th century we saw that same spirit of federal IT ingenuity displayed in the work of individuals like Dorothy Vaughn at NASA. Vaughn, whose story has been made famous by the film Hidden Figures, was a manager at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA) and took it upon herself to learn computer programming. Vaughn became critical to helping NASA incorporate IBM computers into its calculations. It’s important to note that Vaughn took the initiative herself to learn computer programming and understood the potential that emerging technologies would have on NASA’s mission.
These individuals became heroes at their agencies by taking risks and continually learning. This same spirit of discovery continues to move agencies forward today. Federal IT employees can improve how government serves the citizen and the warfighter and transform how their agencies meet their missions.
What does it take to become a federal IT hero? Start by tapping into professional curiosity, exploring emerging technologies and with experimentation.
Imagine two cars are racing. The first is a Ferrari, while the second is a 1999 Ford Taurus. The comparison seems unfair, yet this is one way to view the relationship between today’s government IT environment and IT expectations. The Ferrari represents government employee and citizen expectations for security and reliable data access. The Ford Taurus represents aging government networks that cannot keep pace with a wide variety of emerging security threats. In the current vehicles, it’s an impossible race to win.
However, this scenario doesn’t need to be the case. Machine learning in the network can help detect and negate attacks. Similar to the idea of automatically upgrading the engine in the Ford Taurus, weaving real-time intelligence via machine learning into the network infrastructure can help keep pace with emerging threats. In a world where attacks can occur at any time, the network needs agile defensive and offensive capabilities. With machine learning built into the network, a heightened level of awareness is integrated in to your environment to address zero-day threats as well as other service disruptive anomalies.
While many machine-learning capabilities are still being developed, this is the time for agencies to prepare. Government should take three steps to leverage machine learning for your network within the next few years.