By Amy Walker, PEO C3T MilTech SolutionsOctober 13, 2009
As Warfighters patrol the dangerous streets in theatre or secure enemy safe houses,
Tactical Ground Reporting's (TIGR) new "Patrol View" function will soon enhance their visual perspective.
"The street view function, or Patrol View, has the ability to show Soldiers a particular area and give them the experience of having already been there; based on data inputted by others who have gone before them," said John Gillette, TIGR/Tactical Handheld Digital Device (THDD) deputy.
Patrol View is a new TIGR capability that has been enabled with a partnership with the Rapid Equipping Force (REF) which has made ground data captured in Iraq available for visualization in TIGR. Patrol View offers the Soldier a 360 degree view of surrounding vicinity similar to Google Street View. With this information and imagery, commanders can view targeted buildings as well as the surrounding infrastructure prior to their mission. They now have the ability to foresee possible sniper hideouts or to plan their positions of fire support in advance, said Gillette.
TIGR is a multimedia reporting system for Soldiers at the patrol level that allows them to collect and share information to improve situational awareness and to facilitate collaboration and information analysis among junior officers. It is a Web-based software application that runs on the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPR).
Currently there are 23,000 TIGR users accounts, and it is fielded to15 Brigade Combat Teams in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and three in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The OIF fielding is completed and being sustained, but there is still fielding yet to be completed in OEF, said Maj. Xaviera Williams, TIGR/THDD lead.
"Today, TIGR is arming Soldiers from 17 combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan with exactly what they need - the best information and knowledge available to them on the ground in real time," said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, during his speech at the Association of the United States Army's 2009 Winter Symposium in February 2009.
Currently, TIGR's Patrol View Capability is undergoing a limited user test in Iraq.
To coordinate the initial set up of the Patrol View function, the Army needed to go out with contractors to manually map out and download imagery and information throughout Iraq, Gillette said. Eventually, the intent is to have a camera-mounted ball that can be installed onto a patrol vehicle. This will allow patrols to capture data for the TIGR, each time they go out.
"The strength of TIGR is to be able to search data that is already in the repository," Gillette said. "So, as the Soldier is putting the information in, it is building a database that is connected through servers at the battalion and brigade level."
The ground Soldiers' preparation for a patrol is similar to that of a flight plan that a pilot creates prior to flight, Gillette said. Soldiers on patrol will first map out routes, taking note of possible obstacles or difficult topography. However, local infrastructure and battlefield terrain is constantly modified.
New structures are continually built or torn down, bridges are destroyed and various obstructions appear and disappear along any given street. To stay updated with these changes, TIGR uses before and after photographs and updated imagery to manage the changing tactical landscape and to provide the most current views of the battlespace.
TIGR's graphical, map-referenced user interface allows multimedia data such as voice recordings, digital photos, and Global Positioning System (GPS) tracks to be easily collected and searched. The system also uses a state-of-the-art data distribution architecture to minimize load on the tactical networks, while allowing digital imagery and other multimedia data to be rapidly exchanged.
With its geospatial user interface, TIGR is particularly suited to counterinsurgency operations and enables collection and distribution of very specific intelligence on people, places, and insurgent activity.
"It allows them to use an interface that is very similar to Google Earth and Facebook, which young Soldiers are used to using to both input data and retrieve data," Gillette said.
TIGR helps ground Soldiers collect information on key infrastructure, landmarks and terrain. Photos of key locations can be captured into TIGR, geo-referenced, and displayed as map overlays. Such data also serves as a navigation aid in areas where street names or numbers are non-existent. Overlays of routes, critical infrastructure, tribal areas and ethnic maps, recent attacks and recent changes in the terrain are each used to support the Soldier's mission.
TIGR is also used to capture and share information on the human landscape. The system is used to record and share meetings with religious leaders and encounters with local villagers or business owners.
Information from TIGR can also be exported to Google Earth. TIGR can be used to transfer key information to a new unit rotating into an area of operation. Instead of reviewing a stack of PowerPoint or Word files, new units can start the rotation process by reviewing past and ongoing activities in their areas of interest. In addition, the profiles of Soldiers who have input information are displayed on the system.
Developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), TIGR was first introduced to users during a pre-deployment training exercise at Fort Hood in the spring of 2006. It was developed in response to a need to have a capability to capture, retrieve and report patrol data, Gillette said.
TIGR was conceived and is currently managed by Dr. Mari Maeda of the DARPA Information Processing Techniques Office. The program is scheduled to transfer to Project Manager, Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below (PM FBCB2) of the Army's Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) in the first quarter of FY12.