The Mercury program seeks to develop methods for continuous, automated analysis of foreign SIGINT in order to anticipate and/or detect terrorist activity, military actions, political crises and disease outbreaks. Performers must address the following technical challenges in order to meet the objectives of Mercury:

  • Development of methods to automatically sample SIGINT data to detect group-level behavior changes in anticipation of, and response to, events of interest.
  • Development of SIGINT data extraction techniques that focus on volume, rather than depth, by identifying shallow features of SIGINT data (keywords, geotags, timestamps, etc.) that correlate with group behavior.
  • Development of multivariate time-series models robust to non-stationary, heteroscedastic, and heterogeneous data to reveal patterns that precede events.
  • Development of innovative uses of statistical methods to fuse combinations of time series for generating probabilistic warnings of events.
  • Development of capabilities that account for geographical variations in dialect, communication preferences, rate, technology adoption and political openness.

Warnings for U.S. events; identification, geolocation, or tracking of individuals; development of new sensors; and collection mechanisms that require directed participation by individuals are out of scope for this program.

The Mercury program is envisioned to begin in January 2016 and end in January 2019.

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