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Lockheed aims to help frontline troops get more-relevant intel

Oct. 28, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By ERIK SCHECHTER   |   Comments
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Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions is taking up the shibboleth of the Pentagon’s chief information officer demanding that warfighters get access to intelligence streams “from any device, anywhere, anytime.”

At last week’s Association of the United States Army convention in Washington, D.C., Joe Portale told reporters that the company is beta testing a still-unnamed tool that will drive protected, context-relevant data to mobile devices carried by troops.

Right now, critical sensor data pours into forward operating bases, said Portale, the chief technologist for mobility solutions at IS&GS. But if those in the field “don’t know it’s there, they can’t request it.”

By the same token, if headquarters does not know the particular situation of troops engaged with the enemy, that leads to a bandwidth-sucking intelligence dump in which “gigabytes and gigabytes of data can be pushed to them,” he said.

To bridge this disconnect, Lockheed is developing a service by which platoon leaders can use a simple interface on their mobile devices to describe their context — for example, moving southeast toward an enemy position on a ridge line — to HQ.

Proprietary company algorithms operating back at the base would then rank and fuse incoming sensor data and push out in real-time only the most relevant intelligence to the warfighters, given their stated context.

Besides saving bandwidth and not overwhelming the platoon commander, such a solution empowers troops in other ways.

“If the warfighter knows what his mission is, which he obviously would, and he knows assets are available, he could put in a request to task those assets,” Portale said.

The tool is still in R&D, so it’s a work in progress. Lockheed is currently combining it with its secure mobility solutions and is also looking at other contexts — for example, unit proximity to a satcom link — in determining what gets to the troops.

“It’s not always going to be perfect,” he said, “so sometimes we’ll be grabbing data that isn’t exactly what they asked for, but we think that it will greatly streamline ... what they are getting today.”

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