Prototype makes UAV data available via Web

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The Defense Department is trying to find funding for a prototype system that enables users to follow in near real time the progress of a live Global Hawk or Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from a network-connected Web browser.

The Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Information Service (ISRIS) prototype provides access to data from a UAV, using dynamic report generation and an interactive Web-based map display.

A Mitre Corp. employee working with the Global Hawk UAV Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program office developed the ISRIS prototype. The system was funded by Mitre's Air Force and Army Contract Mission Oriented Investigation and Experimentation programs, said John Kane, Mitre's principal investigator for the project.

The prototype has been demonstrated with archived Global Hawk and Predator data, but has not been tested during a live flight. The first ISRIS demonstration took place in May 2001, Kane said.

John Stenbit, DOD's chief information officer, received a lessons-learned presentation on the prototype last September and said he was pleased with the progress.

"Mitre's ISRIS prototype really fits my vision of the future where ISR information will be made available shortly after it is collected to the warfighters that need it the most," Stenbit said. "It's a great demonstration of what I call 'post before process' for populating the network with new, dynamic sources of information needed to defeat the enemy."

Joint Forces Command, which leads DOD's development of joint service concepts and experimentation, has submitted the ISRIS capability as a fiscal 2004 Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration project and is trying to obtain fiscal 2003 funds to quickly develop the prototype into an operational system, Kane said.

Patrick Garrett, an associate analyst at GlobalSecurity.org, which monitors space and military programs, said ISRIS offers a "revolutionary change in the way that UAV imagery is handled, utilized and exploited," but will have to overcome two main challenges: making the Web interface user-friendly and bandwidth.

"The most immediate problem that it faces concerns the Web interface and bringing together the individual presentations that would allow users to point and click and to get collateral or additional information on what it is they are looking at," Garrett said. "But ISRIS risks exacerbating an already troublesome issue, that of bandwidth. Providing real-time streaming video of this product in addition to the vast number of potential users logging on to the same Webcast may bring the DOD's data transfer rates to a standstill."

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