NORAD, the six-decade-old North American defense pact, has launched a new initiative called the Strategic Homeland Integrated Ecosystem for Layered Defense—also known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Beyond the acronym, this S.H.I.E.L.D. has absolutely nothing to do with the Nick Fury-led espionage agency from the Marvel Universe, which has alternately stood for Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage and Law-Enforcement Division, Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate, or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, depending on the comic book. Although it does remind me just how fantastic that Jim Steranko run on old S.H.I.E.L.D. comics from the 70s really was.
Here's how CBC describes the organization that has nothing to do with super hero observation for the Intelligence Community:
[F]aced with a variety of new and improved weapons — everything from hypersonic glide vehicles to next-generation cruise missiles — North America needs a defence surveillance system that knits together space, air and land-based surveillance in real time.
Such a system "pools this data and fuses it into a common operational picture," said the paper, published last September. "Then, using the latest advances in machine learning and data analysis, it scans the data for patterns that are not visible to human eyes, helping decision-makers understand adversary potential courses of action before they are executed."
What they're talking about is predictive analysis and artificial intelligence. The SHIELD concept envisions a "global sensing grid" that can sniff out threats as they develop by drawing on data from "traditional and nontraditional sources," such as civilian air traffic control grids.
To an extent, the SHIELD concept is being put to work already by NORAD through operational testing of a cloud-based data fusion system called Project Pathfinder.
So it's just another excuse for defense spending.
No word yet on how much of Nick Fury's cigar budget will come from US taxpayers.
SHIELD Is Now a Real Government Program in the US and Canada [Kelvin Childs / Comic Book Resources]