Video Interview: Stuart Wagner Shares What BRAVO Hackathon Means for Air Force Data Story

The U.S. Air Force is increasingly focused on surmounting big data issues as the service pursues enterprise modernization and data-driven decision making capabilities. Problems like lack of ownership over telemetry data, an inability to easily develop software using data and widespread compartmentalization are inhibiting the Air Force from being able to fully harness data as an asset.

Stuart Wagner, chief digital transformation officer at the Department of the Air Force, contends that the service’s data story is “broken” — but not beyond repair.

In 2021, Wagner launched the BRAVO Hackathon, an innovation and software development event series which invites engineers, data scientists and experts from academia, industry, government and citizenry to “build operationally focused emergent capabilities with mentorship from senior Department of Defense leaders.”

Following the first Hackathon in January 2022, Wagner is now gearing up for the second installment of the event series, Canary Release, this summer. Through the series, Wagner is already seeing “transformational” consequences in the Air Force’s data capabilities and, importantly, in the way the service’s technologists and operators interact.

“Now, we have a direct channel in line — ‘we’ being CIOs, software developers, software factories — directly to warfighters to start to kind of help shift them towards a digital future,” Wagner said in a video interview with Executive Mosaic. “And concurrently, they also now have that channel to us.”

Wagner noted that the Hackathon also aims to help the Air Force — and the entire Department of Defense in the long-term — pace industry and leverage some of the processes, innovation initiatives and strategies that already exist in the commercial world.

“The approaches we’re applying are really popular in industry,” he shared. “It’s really common to hold innovation events in industry. It’s really common to be incentivized to collaborate and to build stuff that scales, so that’s what we’re trying to do at the Department of Defense, except we’re trying to do it with weapons systems.”

View the full video interview with the Department of the Air Force’s Stuart Wagner and find videos from our previous interview participants at ExecutiveMosaic.com.

To apply for the BRAVO 1 Canary Release Hackathon:

DOD employees and contractors may apply as either support staff or hackers via Common Access Card login here. Federal Government employees (outside of DOD) or contractors without a Common Access Card may apply here. Industry, academia and citizens interested in being considered to participate via Air Force CyberWorx’s Partnership Intermediary, CCTI, should apply here. Selected participants will receive additional details. Project demos are offered to Department of Defense and Federal Government employees through a Science Fair – applications are available here.

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