ADELPHI, Md. -- The Army requires transparent interoperability at the speed of tactical relevance and U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory is evaluating next-generation approaches for battlefield system interoperability in joint, coalition and multi-domain operational contexts.
Interoperability remains a long-standing military challenge for Army networks and battlefield systems. Overcoming these problems is an essential science and technology objective for network modernization.
Researchers at CCDC ARL and developers at the Joint Staff Innovation Group, J8, Office of the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, are investigating ways in which interoperability can be made seamless and transparent for Soldiers, regardless of the technological disparity between systems. Moreover, impediments to interoperability are even more significant in joint (cross-service), coalition/partner (cross-national) and multi-domain activities.
An executable-model environment called the Global Information Networking Architecture, or GINA, technology was designed to facilitate integration of diverse systems through a collection of intuitive web-based user interfaces that can be used by military personnel with limited programming expertise.
"A key objective of GINA is to reduce current technical challenges in sensor systems integration to support command and control, or C2, common operating picture technologies needed for decision support," said the team's lead Dr. Jade Freeman, a researcher at CCDC ARL.
To demonstrate GINA's functionality, Freeman said the Army researchers applied the technology to real-world data integration scenarios at the Technical Cooperation Program Contested Urban Environment Strategic Challenge 2019, referred to as CUE 19, which was an experiment led by the U.S National Representative for TTCP CUESC from CCDC Armaments Center in New York City earlier this summer.
"The TTCP CUE 19 experimentation aimed to obtain greater insights into the nature of urban stressors and the limitations of technologies that support operational concepts in contested urban environments, featuring testing of over 40 technologies across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States," Freeman said.
She said GINA was included as an individual component of a broader ARL technology package aimed at facilitating both C2 systems interoperability and processing of Internet of Things data at the network edge -- and applied toward ingest and processing of data from a collection of commercial IoT sensors operating under a set of use cases, including perimeter monitoring of installations and vehicle tracking.
Data from the IoT sensors was transmitted using long-range wide area network, a commercial IoT protocol known for supporting long-range transmissions in urban environments using low-power hardware.
"The GINA software was installed and run on a virtual machine hosted on an ARL server located on a mobile tactical operations center brought to different sites around New York City to support experimentation across participating technologies," said Dr. James Michaelis, CCDC ARL researcher. "A key objective for GINA's experimentation and data collection involved successful configuration and ingest of data from a LoRaWAN gateway installed on the mobile TOC as part of parallel experimentation on LoRaWAN's propagation coverage within urban environments.
"Once ingested and processed by GINA, IoT data derived from the LoRaWAN gateway would be forwarded to the RaptorX common operating picture software for review by the staff located remotely at Fort Hamilton, New York -- communications between the mobile TOC and Fort Hamilton were facilitated through LTE-based connectivity."
Event participation offered CCDC ARL researchers the opportunity to implement and provide a first look at some of GINA's core capabilities for networking, data integration and system interoperability using commercial IoT sensor technologies assembled and tested in-house and sensor data generated by other sensing technologies brought to the event by collaborating groups.
Researchers said GINA was able to relay successfully the LoRaWAN-based data to RaptorX, a military geographic information system designed to support visualization of real-time sensor feeds to support real-time review of the IoT.
"Data from the LoRaWAN gateway was successfully published into GINA's track table, while simultaneously, location information for LoRa sensors was pushed by GINA into RaptorX at Fort Hamilton, enabling tracking of vehicle-mounted LoRa sensors via RaptorX during driving tests conducted around Manhattan," said ARL engineer Tim Gregory.
"Collaborating with the creators of the GINA technology and the CCDC Army Research Laboratory is merely one example of how we are introducing this unique technology into programs that can benefit from executable-models known as Vector Relational Data Modeling," said Col. Neal Mayo, deputy director of the Joint Staff Innovation Group, J8, Joint Staff. "The extensible integration and interoperability, as well as unique capabilities for contextual, causal and behavioral analytics represents a game-changer as we seek to advance joint efforts to integrate and leverage new Artificial Intelligence technologies to solve our future 'hard problems.'"
Col. Mayo said he is especially excited to see the results of the ARL team's upcoming effort of applying the GINA technology and unique methodology for integration, orchestration, and cognitive model-execution for decision support models.
"These efforts align perfectly with our mission to find new solutions to the challenges that will face our warfighters in the future," Col. Mayo said.
The lab's researchers continue to experiment with GINA using diverse sensor data and plan to investigate data analytics extensions, as well as integration of multiple heterogeneous data streams through simulated tactical scenarios.
The CCDC Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.