Central Intelligence Agency CTO to Tech VC's: Let's Chat about Analytics #appnation

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Anthony Myers avatar

Gus Hunt, the Central Intelligence Agency's CTO, is on the prowl for any VC's working on analytics, he said at the AppNation conference in San Francisco this week.

Hunt said he feels energized coming to the west coast to talk to knowledgeable folks in Silicon Valley, and he's always eager to chat about just about anything they have to offer. 

CIA Not on the Cutting Edge of Mobile

Information is what the intelligence world is all about, and so analytics is more or less the central tenet of what the CIA does. However, like most large organizations, the CIA has a problem regarding mobile devices. They simply aren't secure enough to support a bring your own device policy. That's not to say the agency is against it altogether, Hunt said.

"Mobile is about 1% of our technology," Hunt said.

Classified devices do exist, but that is pretty much the exact opposite of BYOD. The CIA does have an app store, however. Kind of. It does offer a repository of widgets and applets that analysts can use to build other more complex apps that do whatever job is needed. Those apps can then be sent into the repository for others to use.

Learning Opportunities

Analysts are naturally looking for correlations among huge data sets, and so analyzing data is a big part of their national security mission. That's why Hunt said he is always eager to learn about what VC's are investing in, because as a government agency, the CIA is not as innovative as the private sector. 

The agency uses a Boolean search engine for internal work, and this system doesn't do well at scale, Hunt said. Consequently, where the CIA has had to innovate is in how it correlates data. 

Predictive Analytics Needed in Washington

Predictive analytics is another space where intelligence agencies need to get better, Hunt said. Using the Arab Spring as an example, Hunt said analysts might look for people who are becoming more radical. By seeing who is moving from a moderate position to a radical one, predictive analytics could help figure out who might be likely to take the next step toward doing someone harm, he said.

"This is really important and we will be pushing on this for years to come."