Data Brought to Life

Dr. Dave Warner discusses innovative visualization tools and more

By Lindsay Tilton Mitchell

Sept. 18, 2014

Medical neuroscientist Dr. Dave Warner describes himself as a “fairly nontraditional guy.” Recently, he had the opportunity to speak to two different USGIF groups at both a data analytics workshop and young professionals event.

Having achieved a Ph.D. in physio-informatics as well as an M.D., Warner earned himself the nickname “Doctor Doctor Dave,” as many in the Intelligence Community call him.

Warner also has an extensive background in modern methods of analysis. In July, he presented at USGIF and Analyst One’s “Analytics 2014: Insights for Mission Impact” workshop. Warner’s work traverses both the medical and intelligence fields.

“Both areas are very similar because they require smart people to make smart decisions quicker and better,” he said.

While in medical school 20 years ago, Warner realized many people working in medicine were not taking adequate advantage of the nervous system. As a result, he founded and became the director for medical intelligence at MindTel. During his presentation at the data analytics workshop, Warner showed many examples of his work, including one instance where a paralyzed patient was able to control a computer with her eye and brain activity, navigating around and interacting with objects in a virtual environment.

While in Afghanistan working on civil-military stability operations, Warner began his “Beer for Data” initiative to encourage information sharing among partners in the region. The program was a success, and to organize this data, Warner developed ANTz, a multi-dimensional environment for real-time analysis and decision-making. ANTz’ unique visualization, using rings of knowledge rather than dots, allows people to better understand the data they’re viewing. Some of these visualizations can be viewed here.

Another example Warner shared at the workshop was an analysis of situational awareness for stability operations in Afghanistan. Objects are visualized on the map, with the color and position of rings on the objects representing cultural factors. For example, light blue rings at a three o’clock position represent women’s programs, and their subrings are girls in school or infant mortality rates. The red rings at 12 o’clock signify military-age men; green rings at nine o’clock represent agriculture, and rings at six o’clock represent economy and infrastructure.

“These are structures that contain meaning…it’s like inventing a new language,” Warner said.

Using ANTz as a foundation, Warner also launched Arlington, Va-based SynGlyphX, a company that helps other organizations make sense of complex data. USGIF’s Young Professionals Group (YPG) recently held an event at the SynGlyphX office, where Warner spoke about “Beer for Data” and ANTz. Warner said he enjoys engaging with this generation of GEOINT professionals.

“I’ve worked with the YPG for several years because I think it’s important to provide them a new mindset and new ways of thinking to accelerate insight and exposure,” he said.


Photo Credit: Dr. Dave Warner