Data on demand
- By George I. Seffers
- Nov 05, 2000
The Pentagon is collaborating with five countries on the Smart Sensor Web
project, a sweeping effort to weave together the most extensive sensor program
across the Defense Department into one World Wide Web-like battlefield system.
Smart Sensor Web, a sweeping effort led by the Office of the Secretary
of Defense within the Pentagon, involves the individual military services,
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Special Operations
Command, the Joint Forces Command, various universities and others.
The project is designed to ensure that battlefield sensors of all kinds
form an intelligent web that spans the battlefield, making critical wartime
data available to individual soldiers from one Web site, which could be
accessed via a wearable computer, a personal digital assistant, a laptop
or another available computer.
The Pentagon initiated the project after doing an inventory of the majority
of research being conducted across services and agencies.
DOD officials found that research was often unique to individual commands
or agencies, said Army Lt. Col. Bruce Gwilliam, who manages the proj-ect
within the Defense secretary's office. "But if you looked at them in total,
what you saw was that we had a plethora of sensors out there for a multitude
of reasons that could be brought together and made available without much
effort," he said.
Traditionally, individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are
sent information from higher echelons. But Smart Sensor Web turns tradition
on its head, using information from higher echelons and from tactical sensors
available on command to the lower ranks. The change, officials say, will
enable the military to gather critical intelligence within much smaller
areas — down to one square kilo-meter — and with errors so minor they are
It's a revolution that has been made possible by the development of
very small sensor technology, micro-electronics, low-power consumption and
technology that is easily proliferated because it is so cheap, said Jasper
Lupo, director of sensors and electronics technology in the office of the
deputy undersecretary of Defense for science and technology.
"It's basically throw-away technology that allows us to think about
giving things to the individual at lower echelons of the military, technology
that used to be prohibitively expensive. That's the revolution," Lupo said.
"And when you put the sensors everywhere, every object on the battlefield
becomes a sensor platform to report back to some collection point."
The project includes various programs within the Defense Department,
including the Army's Land Warrior program, DARPA's Small Unit Operations-Situational
Awareness System, physical sensors for tracking the health conditions of
military members, weather sensors at the tactical level and many others.
The Pentagon is funding the numerous efforts to enable officials to pursue
individual goals while also ensuring that they work toward building the
Smart Sensor Web capability.
The three-year project recently entered its second year. In the first
year, officials focused on the science and technology. The second year will
key in on systems integration and the third on transitioning into an advanced
The Pentagon has scheduled 10 Smart Sensor Web experiments, using as
a test bed the Army's Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility, which
is a mock city at Fort Benning, Ga. The Smart Sensor Web project has also
funded improvements to the facility — a training ground for urban warfare — so that experiments can be conducted at a research laboratory level.