CERDEC LABS SET SIGHTS ON ‘Smart’ TECHNOLOGY
By Sharon Rushen, CERDEC PAO
30 Oct 09 A ‘smart’ radio knows which radio frequencies are vacant, temporarily unoccupied, or occupied and acutely bounces from one to the other providing seamless, efficient communication for Soldiers in the battlefield. It is defined by its software, and is also known as a cognitive radio. But, how did it get its ‘smarts’? How does it know what frequencies are open and what policy constraints exist in any given operational environment?
Engineers with the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center have been developing key technologies to answer these questions. Specifically, they have focused on solving the problems that arise when managing spectrum, which is the range of frequencies used in radio communications.
The challenge of managing spectrum to ease communications in operational environments has recently come to the forefront of Army communications. With the inundation of commercial wireless products and the variety of communication devices used by deployed military personnel, spectrum is in high demand, with finite supply.
According to Alan Scrime, branch chief of CERDEC’s Spectrum Analysis and Management Branch, Improvised Explosive Devices and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles also crowd spectrum in addition to the radios and commercial wireless devices.
“We’ve got more jammers than we’ve ever had before to help stem the IED threat. We’re using more unmanned vehicles, particularly UAV’s and they’re very costly and very valuable to us, but if we don’t have enough spectrum to operate we can’t fly them. That coupled with all the modern communications gear that’s more and more wireless gear,” Scrime said.
Recognizing the number of systems that use spectrum and the amount of spectrum available to them, calls for a need to understand the operational environment and a need to understand that environment’s policy requirements to use spectrum.
One technology, the Coalition Joint Spectrum Management Planning Tool, is software that maps out a mission plan, taking into account the spectrum resources of the force structure, background emitters in the area of interest, and the terrain and propagation of the operational environment. The other, RF Adaptive Technologies Integrated with Communications and Location (RADICAL), is a technology program that aims to create software to automate policy regulations for using spectrum in any given environment.
By looking at the physical aspects of an operational environment, taking into account topography and mission requirements, CJSMPT helps to take the guess work out of determining available radio frequencies. Depending on the unit in a given environment, the kinds of radios, and spectrum requirements, the software user maps out the unit locations and movement, and the software creates a frequency proposal that satisfies the mission requirements.
The implementation of CJSMPT aims to help ease the management and assignment of spectrum by leveraging existing modeling and simulation capabilities in an automated planning tool, explained Frank Loso, CJSMPT program manager.
“CJ, is really the first time that a software planning tool will be available, which supports all phases of spectrum operations from the highest level, which is determining what your spectrum requirements are when you deploy to a new area of operations, all the way down to the lowest level of the process, which is identifying and trouble-shooting interference problems. It ties together all of the steps in that process and provides automated capabilities to assist the spectrum manager in doing his job,” Loso said.
Upon recently completing the final stages of development and testing of the software, CERDEC has transitioned CJSMPT to their partner, Program Director, Network Operations Current Force. PD NetOps will deploy CJSMPT to the United Stat