SPIE Defense + Security 2017
Conference paper

Coalitions of things: Supporting ISR tasks via internet of things approaches

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In the wake of rapid maturing of Internet of Things (IoT) approaches and technologies in the commercial sector, the IoT is increasingly seen as a key 'disruptive' technology in military environments. Future operational environments are expected to be characterized by a lower proportion of human participants and a higher proportion of autonomous and semi-autonomous devices. This view is reflected in both US 'third offset' and UK 'information age' thinking and is likely to have a profound effect on how multinational coalition operations are conducted in the future. Much of the initial consideration of IoT adoption in the military domain has rightly focused on security concerns, reflecting similar cautions in the early era of electronic commerce. As IoT approaches mature, this initial technical focus is likely to shift to considerations of interactivity and policy. In this paper, rather than considering the broader range of IoT applications in the military context, we focus on roles for IoT concepts and devices in future intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tasks, drawing on experience in sensor-mission resourcing and human-computer collaboration (HCC) for ISR. We highlight the importance of low training overheads in the adoption of IoT approaches, and the need to balance proactivity and interactivity (push vs pull modes). As with sensing systems over the last decade, we emphasize that, to be valuable in ISR tasks, IoT devices will need a degree of mission-awareness in addition to an ability to self-manage their limited resources (power, memory, bandwidth, computation, etc). In coalition operations, the management and potential sharing of IoT devices and systems among partners (e.g., in cross-coalition tactical-edge ISR teams) becomes a key issue due heterogeneous factors such as language, policy, procedure and doctrine. Finally, we briefly outline a platform that we have developed in order to experiment with human-IoT teaming on ISR tasks, in both physical and virtual settings.