ELVIS to tour with GCCS

The Defense Information Systems Agency plans to distribute World Wide Web browser software, dubbed "ELVIS," that will allow "almost ubiquitous access" to the common operational picture carried on the Global Command and Control System (GCCS).

Unlike commercial Web browser software, which presents a static display, the Enhanced Link Visual Information System offers a "dynamic" interface to GCCS, with users receiving information updates in near-real time, according to Frank Perry, DISA's technical director for engineering and interoperability.

As long as they have a secure connection, ELVIS allows almost any user with a PC to tap into the rich common operational picture presented by GCCS, which graphically displays the status and movement of friendly and enemy forces in a particular theater.

Before the development of ELVIS, only users with high-powered and expensive workstations could tap into the GCCS common operational picture.

ELVIS is a "very powerful application" for the command and control community, Perry said, and DISA intends to widely distribute it to users through its secure GCCS Web site.

"It should be available on that site this week.... We have not been aggressively pushing ELVIS prior to the shutdown of the World Wide Command and Control System," he said.

Lee Witt, vice president of technical affairs for the Inter-National Research Institute (INRI), which developed ELVIS, called the Netscape Communications Corp.'s Netscape-based program "the killer command and control app.... It's the distribution engine for the tactical picture. We're taking that picture and making it available to users around the world."

Witt, who is so taken with the ELVIS acronym that he dresses up as "The King" when he makes presentations to user groups, added that "the real strength of ELVIS is that it taps into a rich set of information.... You're getting data from Link 11 feeds and data from [the Enhanced Position Location and Reporting System] and whatever else appears on a GCCS tactical display."

This data—in the form of moving tracks for such objects as planes and ships—is superimposed on high-resolution Defense Mapping Agency digital products, Witt said.

Accessing ELVIS

Users access ELVIS through a Virtual Command Center—a set of maps that appear on a desktop—and a mouse click downloads a DMA-based GCCS GIF to the user's terminal.

"When you click on that GIF, you get near-real-time tactical information," Witt said. The ELVIS interface to GCCS also allows users to seamlessly tap into information contained in relational databases that serve as the brain of GCCS, which allows PC-based users to access to the same depth of information as workstation users.

"ELVIS melds tabular and graphic information and provides users with ease of navigation," Witt said. Response time between the mouse click and the receipt of information at the ELVIS terminal is relatively fast, even for dial-up users. "Even at 14.4 [kilobit/sec] you can get a tactical display in about five seconds."

Perry said ELVIS gives PC-based users "the command center picture, updated on the screen every few minutes. If you want to know about a symbol, it has a hot-link box [that provides the underlying information] for that symbol."

Trickle-Down Effect

While DISA intends to continue to field workstation-based GCCS systems to top-level users, Perry said ELVIS will provide inexpensive access for "a whole other class of users.... I see this going all the way down to relatively low echelons."

Witt said users can sample an unclassified version of ELVIS on the INRI Web page at http://elvis.inri.com:9002.

Use "guest1" as the log-in name and the password when prompted.


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