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Meet the Ottawa firm modernizing defence intelligence missions worldwide

IMRSV Data Labs is making mission-critical intelligence work more efficient, traceable, and secure

Two men.
Two men.

When CEO Samuel Witherspoon founded IMRSV Data Labs eight years ago, he never imagined he would one day be building technology suited for the defence sector.

As a bootstrapped startup, IMRSV started out in the legal industry, designing an AI-driven platform that helped handle information lifecycle management and analysis within law firms.

But that would soon change.

After reexamining the company’s mission and market realities, IMRSV soon recalibrated toward the defence and public safety space and hasn’t looked back.

Unifying and accelerating the defence intelligence lifecycle

Today, the 30-person team is expanding, landing major deals as a prime contractor with several large defence organizations in Canada and the U.S.

That’s largely because IMRSV’s main platform, Anvil Suite, fills a previously unmet need in the defence industry: a single platform enabling the entire intelligence cycle from planning and tasking through data collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination. Because these activities are all managed within a single platform, critical metadata such as original intelligence requirements, origin and restrictions of content flow seamlessly through workflows, providing greater transparency, confidence in data, and accountability to decision-makers at all levels.

IMRSV’s AI-enabled platform, Anvil Suite, accelerates the data transformation and enrichment processes during military operations, enabling analysts and operators to efficiently parse through critical-mission content, including geospatial data, narrative text, structured data, multimedia (audio, imagery, video), and sensor data.

With products such as Anvil Crucible — the core collection, case management and intelligence production toolkit — and Anvil Speech — an Android-based voice-to-voice translation solution supporting several languages and dialects — IMRSV’s technology can seamlessly integrate with existing vendor systems due to its open architecture design, making it immensely valuable for real-time intelligence-gathering activities and faster deployment.

“A human out in the field is like a giant sensor walking around,” he explains. “They’re collecting huge amounts of data.” But because of security concerns, not to mention the chaotic, adversarial and dangerous environments defence and intelligence personnel operate in, external network connectivity may not be possible for weeks or even months at a time, often leading to orphaned data fragments.

That’s why IMRSV deploys Anvil to the edge — even with no connectivity available — so the collection and analysis work can happen wherever its users are. Once users return to base and connectivity is re-established, Anvil automatically syncs any collected data with the main Anvil “Armoury,” ensuring the preservation and chain of custody and digital evidence management is maintained for all acquired assets.

“The goal is to reduce the cognitive burden for all users, so they’re using their mental capacity on more important things, not on moving files around or trying to identify the latest version of a document,” he explains. “It turns intelligence gathering and analysis into an seamlessly automated pipeline.”

Rock-solid data stewardship, even in challenging operating environments

Anvil also ensures that robust metadata is associated with all information collected. This metadata allows defence organizations to locate, understand, and make accurate inferences about their data, as well as ensure proper data governance. This data lineage also combats the growing concerns of data supply chain corruption, and intentional data sabotage.

“In liberal democracies we need to have strong data governance, but it’s difficult to maintain in such an environment where everything produces content” he says, adding that IMRSV’s solution compiles metadata on the information’s source, when it was collected, by whom, the original reason, and other essential characteristics.

Witherspoon says this makes Anvil a unique offering within a defence industry that typically has to cobble together several different products to achieve anything close to the same results, often increasing the cognitive load of all involved and fundamentally decreasing customers’ ability to serve their missions.

Indeed, IMRSV’s technology has real-world implications in situations where seconds count and lives hang in the balance.

“Commanders can rely on the fact that they’re getting the most time-sensitive and up to date information reported to them,” he says. “And analysts can rely on the fact that they’re not missing something, or that if their sources have been updated they are instantly aware of it.”

​​”We designed the Anvil Suite to improve the speed, efficiency and confidence of all processes in the Intelligence Lifecycle. Through the platform we’re trying to do our small part to support the safety and security of Canada and its allies at home and abroad.”