The great information surge offers the Navy the opportunity to replace situational awareness with situational understanding.
The Navy is on the verge of having many new or upgraded systems generating vast amounts of data. Sonars, satellite sensors, and radars are getting more prevalent and more efficient every day. Consider the microsatellites described by Sean Cate and Jesse Sloman in the May 2016 Proceedings.1 When fully operational, these would, in one company’s plans, image every place on Earth twice per day and provide 90-second video clips—and this is just one company.2 Cate and Sloman are correct that this will change the nature of naval warfare, but only if the Navy solves the problem of how to use all that data. There is not enough time, and there are not enough eyeballs, to view and compare images of the entire surface of the Earth twice a day. Even the oceans, with their many open areas, would be impossible to search given current methods.