About the Client

Jacquette Consulting was hired by a nonprofit, independent research center serving government and industry. This company develops the Visual Media Reasoning (VMR) system for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA describes VMR as

a software system that lets users ask queries of photo content such as, “What make and model of vehicle is that?” or “Is this person on our terrorist watch list?” or “Where is this building located?”[1]

 

In short, VMR automates the enormous task of analyzing large sets of image data.

 

VMR is state-of-the-art technology, and while the client built the software, they engaged Jacquette Consulting to make it customer-ready. Our team helped build and expand the software that supports the visual recognition code, improved the scalability and reliability of the software, improved the usability, and applied best software development practices. This enabled the client to reliably and consistently deliver their software to their customer as they continued to advance the science of visual processing.

The Challenge and Approach

Our team addressed several specific areas:

 

  • System Architecture: Our team rearchitected the software to separate front-end and back-end systems. We solidified and improved upon the design of the system’s web APIs.
  • User Interface: Our team performed user experience analysis and redesigned portions of the client’s user interface to improve the VMR system.
  • System Performance: Our team improved system stability with HBase, the non-relational database that stores the VMR system data. Our team used the C# language to make the system more asynchronous and remove time-consuming dependencies between processes.
  • System Testing: Our team introduced a continuous integration build server and test environment with automated integration tests. This enabled the development team to reliably and quickly integrate new code and catch errors early.
  • Software Development Process: Our team introduced an agile workflow within the software development team, helped implement an improved source-control workflow through Git, improved the software release process through automated building and testing, and introduced an improved issue management process through JIRA.
  • Software Development Environment: Our team standardized the software environment across development and deployment platforms.

The Outcome

These improvements provided the client with several benefits:

 

  • Increased Development Speed and Reliability: Software deployments now take a matter of one to two days rather than two weeks plus follow-up debugging. This has decreased costs while improving the client’s customer experience.
  • Improved Product Quality: Our improved approach resulted in approximately 75% fewer bugs being reported by end users in new releases of the software.
  • Improved Customer Experience: Feedback from users has indicated a positive experience with the updates to the user interface.

[1] Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. Visual Media Reasoning (VMR). Retrieved March 13, 2015 from http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/I2O/Programs/Visual_Media_Reasoning_%28VMR%29.aspx.