The information age has arrived, and brought with it new possibilities and challenges that we could have hardly imagined in the past.

It is estimated that by 2020, every individual will, on average, create 1.7 megabytes of data per second, amounting to 147 gigabytes per day. Just grasping the sheer quantity of data being created on a daily basis, multiply this number by more than 7 billion people on earth, and the result is staggering. With such astounding amounts of data being created comes the challenge of analysing this data and use its results to improve our understanding and the delivery of services and actions. We increasingly understand the day to day benefits of data, from being able to better monitor our health with recommendations for exercise and personalised sleep schedules, to logging in to Netflix and getting recommendations for binge-watching films and shows on your couch at home, whilst browsing Amazon to find a present for a friend.

Making all this possible is one underlying, yet broad scientific field, which finds its roots in mathematics, computer science and statistics: Data Science. Data encompasses the tools we need to improve our understanding of vast quantities of data, from straight-forward statistical analysis to machine learning and computational neural networks (often referred to as Artificial Intelligence). Data Science enables and empowers smarter, better and faster decision-making on a global scale.

The potential of Data Science within NATO means that ACT has made Data Science the central theme of the Interoperability Continuum with its ‘Data Science as a Game Changer’ project: The Interoperability Continuum includes the following inter-related events; TIDE Sprint, TIDE Hackathon and CWIX. These events are hosted by Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and together they continuously improve interoperability between Alliance and partner nations and organisations. By providing the interoperability Continuum, ACT increases NATO’s readiness and operational efficiency by encouraging openness, creativity and collaboration so that new ideas can take shape. In doing so, development of roadmaps, concepts, specifications and programs of work can be strengthened and taken forward.

At the 2019 Sprint edition of TIDE Sprint, NATO’s premier interoperability think-tank event, 15 different tracks will delve into questions and challenges related to interoperability to advance NATO’s force multiplier effect and ensure that interoperability is a central element in the development of capabilities. Tracks seek to understand and make recommendations to NATO on the use of autonomous systems, 3D printing in logistics, or the impact that autonomous vessels on maritime operations across the globe. Unique to TIDE Sprint is an environment in which ideas can be created and shared openly, and frank discussion is encouraged to take place on the future of interoperable capabilities in the Alliance, as well as interoperability with outside partners. This enables us to enhance information sharing and build stronger Communication and Information Systems (CIS) to share the information and enhance decision-making in operations which ultimately helps us support NATO’s mission of collective defence and deterrence, and projecting stability across the globe.

The Interoperability Continuum promotes a culture in which interoperability is central to the development of any and all NATO capabilities. By inviting academia, industry and the military we boost collaboration and creativity to solve the problems of today and be ready for the challenges of tomorrow. The Interoperability Continuum hosts events (TIDE Hackathon, TIDE Sprint and the Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXercise) in a yearly cycle where we explore new ideas, experiment with solutions and examine and increase interoperability through exercise.