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Cyber Student Writes Big Data Paper for Naval Group

By Joe Garvey

Dominique Taylor knew he would benefit from writing a Big Data paper for the Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence (CJOSCOE). But he probably didn't realize he was being a pioneer for other Old Dominion University students.

"You're kind of breaking some new ground for us and starting what hopefully will be a better or a bigger tradition of bringing students in and collaborating with us," Capt. Todd Bonnar, Royal Canadian Navy branch head for Strategic Plans and Policy at CJOSCOE, said during a recent ceremony at the College of Arts & Letters, where Taylor was presented with a check for his work. "You're setting future students up for success."

Taylor, a senior cybercrime major from Roanoke, wrote a 15-page paper that applied concepts of Big Data to naval operations for the CJOSCOE, which is based in Norfolk and provides a focal point for joint maritime expeditionary operations expertise for 13 allied nations.

"Specifically, he described the main characteristics of Big Data, including the concepts of 'crowd-sourced data' and 'smart data,'" said Roderick Graham, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice and Taylor's faculty adviser. "He then did research on three current uses of Big Data and discussed how they could be used in maritime operations."

The three case studies were: the Ushahidi software application and its use for the British Columbia Wildfires of 2017; the Organizational, Relationship and Contact Analyzer (ORCA) military software and its application to Middle East terrorist groups and American street gangs; and the use of the Exact Earth software to combat illegal fishing in international waters.

Taylor, who transferred to ODU after one year at Central Virginia Community College, learned about the opportunity at an internship fair.

"I saw this one and I was really interested in what they had going on and how I could benefit from this," he said.

He started the project in July and planned to complete it during the summer. But it stretched into the fall semester, and he finished in early December.

"I felt like we made the quality of the paper better after focusing more throughout the semester and taking a little bit more time with it," he said.

Commodore Tom Guy, deputy director of CJOSCOE, was pleased with the results.

"In terms of the paper that you've done, that's been invaluable for us because we didn't have any Big Data experts in our small cadre," he said at the check ceremony.

Taylor, who started as a criminal justice major before switching about halfway through his time at ODU, plans to do reserve work in the Navy and get a job after graduating in May. Graduate school might be down the road.

Guy believes this experience will pay dividends for Taylor.

"You can say you've been a part of this work that has been conducted by an internationally recognized, NATO-accredited Centre of Excellence," Guy said. "Make sure that you leverage on that and hopefully that will open some doors in the future."

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