USA — Army Researchers Work to Improve Information Systems

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2010 — Army researchers are work­ing to inte­grate com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, com­put­ers, intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance capa­bil­i­ties dur­ing the ear­ly stages of research and devel­op­ment.
“We have had to adapt our Army to deploy sys­tems in the bat­tle­field we hadn’t planned for orig­i­nal­ly in order to defeat the ene­my,” David Jimenez said dur­ing a recent “DoDLive” blog­gers round­table. Jimenez is asso­ciate direc­tor of sys­tems engi­neer­ing at the U.S. Army Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Command’s Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-Elec­tron­ics Cen­ter at Fort Mon­mouth, N.J.

“These capa­bil­i­ties have evolved very quick­ly over the course of the war, and they con­tin­ue to do so,” he said.

The cen­ter, known as CERDEC, is work­ing to inte­grate new capa­bil­i­ties such as sen­sors, dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy, appli­ca­tions and data sys­tem in the research and devel­op­ment stage. The Army net­work of the future will be a “sys­tem of sys­tems,” Jimenez said, so it is impor­tant that capa­bil­i­ties and devices be inte­grat­ed and assessed ear­ly in their devel­op­ment to see how they will per­form togeth­er, rather than wait­ing until they are field­ed.

“The Army has employed and matured telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions on the bat­tle­field rapid­ly, and it’s always been oper­a­tional­ly chal­leng­ing to have mod­ern or net­work com­mu­ni­ca­tions on the bat­tle­field,” he said.

Jason Syp­niews­ki is chief for CERDEC’s Com­mand, Con­trol, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Com­put­ers, Intel­li­gence, Sur­veil­lance and Recon­nais­sance — known as C4ISR — and Net­work Mod­ern­iza­tion Inte­grat­ed Event Design and Analy­sis Branch. He views CERDECS’ research as an ear­ly test bed for new com­mu­ni­ca­tions and infor­ma­tion sys­tems before they reach the bat­tle­field. “We [can] pro­vide our insights and feed­back and share our data,” he said.

Jimezez said one of the things CERDEC is engaged in dur­ing the research and devel­op­ment stages is the pre­sen­ta­tion of data in a way that allows sol­diers to quick­ly under­stand what is being sent to them and be able to act on it.

“Those are ongo­ing research areas that are look­ing at exact­ly how a task should be accom­plished, how the human takes in data and struc­tur­ing our screens and our appli­ca­tions to be able to take advan­tage and make this less bur­den­some for sol­diers,” he said.

Researchers are look­ing at ways for sol­diers to be able to scan or move data with their fin­gers and to be able to present data with­out hav­ing a heavy reliance on key­board-actu­at­ed response, Jimenez said. They also are look­ing into voice recog­ni­tion and oth­er advances that have occurred in the com­mer­cial mar­ket­place and apply­ing them to the Army.

“We’re lever­ag­ing what we see hap­pen­ing in the com­mer­cial mar­ket­place with smart phones and ‘smart apps’ and loca­tion-aware appli­ca­tions to enable being able to get bat­tle­field infor­ma­tion to sol­diers when and where they need it,” Jimenez said.

Syp­niews­ki added that work­ing close­ly with part­ners out of the Army Research Lab and oth­er efforts that are focused on human cog­ni­tive analy­sis gives them the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with the end-user to get their feed­back. “That goes direct­ly back to the devel­op­er,” he said.

Jimenez said that he thinks the research and devel­op­ment under­way will pro­vide incred­i­ble trans­for­ma­tions in terms of infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed to sol­diers.

“It’s always chang­ing. It’s always adap­tive. It’s excit­ing,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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