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Data Pipeline | Tools

Using the data everyone has to generate insights no one has

We have built a large-scale data pipeline, providing an unequaled view of the complete sustainment system

Our data workflow is a force multiplier that allows us to pursue a wide range of different analyses. The Services are adopting our tools and standards. IDA is uniquely positioned to build these tools, conduct these studies, and share both with the DOD.

1. Collect raw data
This is currently conducted source-by-source, with data manually pulled by DOD analysts
2. Curate raw data for processing
We have built “nectar,” a process that speeds up this surprisingly time-consuming process to figure out what data is necessary
3. Process raw data into item-level metrics
Curated data is processed into “ground truth” metrics, drawing on years of discussions with subject-matter experts. This is constantly evolving as we learn more and add new data sources
4. Translate human-readable files into models
The publicly-released “stinger” software package makes it possible to modify complex models in minutes, rather than days or weeks. The services are adopting these tools and standards.

Our pre-processing tools combine data from different sources to create usable metrics

We consolidate Navy and Air Force data systems and calculate sustainment metrics by platform. We can pull from a variety of complementary databases to create an unparalleled insight into the supply system (inventories by site, stock posture health, projected due-ins, etc.), component properties (platform specific failure rates, maintenance turnaround time, repair/procurement lead times, etc.), and the platforms themselves (system deployments, sortie durations, etc.). The overlap in IDA’s modeling expertise, sustainment knowledge, and the non-proprietary nature of our tools uniquely positions us to conduct the studies and share our results with the DOD.

IDA takes a comprehensive simulation-driven approach to map out all aspects of sustainment and their effects on readiness outcomes

Our work combines the data visualization, correlative techniques and end-to-end simulation to provide a holistic overview of the sustainment system and its problems. Data dashboards can quickly provide ground truth and strong diagnostics, but lack predictive power and cannot tie decisions to outcomes. Correlative studies contain strong statistical approaches and historical trends to reveal performance driving factors, but lack enough details to support “what-if” scenarios a decision-maker may have. Explicitly modeling all aspects of a sustainment system and making specific strategic investments is powerful but time consuming. By leveraging all of these techniques’ strengths together, our work provides a unique and powerful way to help our sponsors make the best decisions.

Robust Data-Driven Decision Making


Data visualization / dashboards



Correlative studies



End-to-end simulation

Our tools allow us to answer questions ranging from the tactical to the strategic

The focus on individual parts allows IDA to investigate a plethora of courses of actions to address readiness shortfalls.

How many units will be ready?

Which items are likely to cause problems?

Which investment path meets DoD’s needs?

We use time-varying discrete event simulation on the entire sustainment structure such that we can examine end-to-end effects

SIMLOX is a discrete-event simulation software, which can stochastically emulate an entire fleet of weapons platforms and the corresponding sustainment system. This allows us to examine the supply system for individual items, as well as the operational effects on the platforms of interest.