TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Navy Seals and Green Berets use firepower, but soon they'll add data to their arsenal on the battlefield.
"... data allows us to see ourselves and the threats," said Gen. Richard Clarke, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.
Clarke was in Ybor City for the opening of USSOCOM's new Data Engineering Lab, where data scientists and software developers can collaborate and develop new streams of information for the military.
"Our military facilities are behind walls. This place is secure but easier to bring partners in," said David Spirk, Jr., USSOCOM's chief data officer.
Data innovators from small companies and entrepreneurs can bring ideas to the military at a nondescript location outside the walls of MacDill Air Force Base.
Several dozen of those private-sector innovators came to the lab's opening.
Paul Leverrier of Alteryx, a data analytics company, said the potential for trial and error is important.
"Let's try things and fail 100 times in an effort to build things faster and succeed faster," said Leverrier.
The facility also presents opportunities for future data innovators. The University of South Florida's College of Engineering has an agreement to send interns.
"We want to help D.O.D. and the companies fill the talent pipeline," said Robert Bishop, the dean of the USF College of Engineering.
The new lab is about technology, but history is informing its future. Large photos on the walls show the history of special operations forces as well as the early days of computers. The two histories now merge at USSOCOM's Data Engineering Lab.
"We saw it as an opportunity to build a facility in Tampa that makes it easy to meet with us and us to meet with them," says Col. David Bradshaw of USSOCOM.
Soldiers and commanders will soon be armed with the best data and it could it start here in Tampa. For more information visit https://www.sofwerx.org/.