Data transformation in the US Air Force: highlights from AFORS

Highlights of data science presentations from the US Air Force Operations Research Symposium.

What happens in Vegas...

Last month I visited the US Air Force Operations Research Symposium (AFORS) at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. The conference is an annual get-together for the Air Force's analyst community, with over 200 attendees talking about operations research, machine learning, and data science topics.

The Air Force has been investing heavily in modernizing its tools and training for working with data, and I was there to run a code-along workshop on using DataCamp Workspace.

Five key areas for data transformation

Dr. Angela Giddings, Technical Director of Studies, Analyses, and Assessments, summed up the Air Force's goal around its data transformation program. She stated that the big problem is figuring out how operations research analysts can become a force multiplier for the rest of the Air Force. Traditionally, operations research has been a very academic group within the Air Force, but that model is no longer viable in the current service.

Dr. Giddings listed five key areas for transformation.

Ensuring projects have an impact on a real problem

Ensuring results are delivered while they are still relevant

Using the right data for the right problem

Generating insights from math

Making use of visualizations

Interestingly, all these areas are things that mirror challenges faced in organizations around the world, regardless of whether they are in the military or not.

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