NEW LABORATORY UNVEILS LATEST COMPUTING SOLUTIONS FOR OPERATIONS
25 Oct 11. A new laboratory which has had a direct impact on UK operations has opened its doors to give an exclusive look at the work which continues to make troops safer.
Located at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) Porton Down site in Wiltshire the Information Superiority Experimentation Laboratory (ISEL) has been functional since June 2010 and has already facilitated a number of research projects which would otherwise have proved impossible. Today, illustrated through a variety of demonstrations and presentations, Dstl scientists employed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), showcased work completed in Dstl for support to forces in operations.
ISEL is a commercially neutral, Government owned and operated building which provides users from Government, the armed forces, industry and academia a comprehensive support package which includes: secure and flexible laboratory space in ten reconfigurable laboratories, links to secure National and International network links, and access to subject matter experts from across Dstl including military personnel.
Although the primary focus for the ISEL is Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (C4ISTAR) experimentation, the facility contributes to a spectrum of synergistic activities ranging from military training to equipment capability demonstration.
Dstl Military Adviser Commander Mike Toft said: “the images we see of operations tend to be of a physical nature: such as people, aircraft, ships, guns and explosions. However behind the hardware lies a vast data network which is absolutely vital to the battle-winning delivery of military effect. ISEL plays a key role in ensuring that this network is as efficient as it can be, and that new systems and applications are integrated effectively with minimal interruption to the front line.”
Work facilitated by the laboratory through the Knowledge Integration and Test Environment (KITE) programme, includes the use of an adapted commercially available computer game to provide military training. Virtual Battlespace 2 (VBS2), modified from the existing game “Armoured Assault” by Bohemia Interactive, is now used across the MOD providing pre-deployment training and the ability to practise drills anywhere – significantly reducing transportation and facility costs.
Dstl’s technical lead for the KITE research programme, Andrew Poulter, said: “These pieces of software have provided real benefit to armed forces during pre-deployment training. I have spoken to commanding officers who have told me that the repeated drilling of troops in the correct procedures, using VBS2, means that when faced with real situations in-theatre they are far more effective: and this has saved lives.”
Other research within KITE includes representing the behaviour of troops and other forces within a simulation, enabling a single operator to control a large formation. Andrew said: “Tools like this enable training to take place within the context of a rich and immersive military scenario: as units controlled by trainees can be augmented by addition of those controlled by artificial intelligence – without the need for large numbers of supporting human players”.
A new approach to data acquisition has given much easier access to integrated databases helping with the fight against Improvised Explosive Devices in Afghanistan. ISEL was used to demonstrate a conceptual piece of research would operate suitably on military networks in theatre. Funded by the International Technology Alliance (ITA), a collaborative research alliance between the MOD, US Army Research Laboratory (US ARL) and industrial and academic partners, the project investigated the concept of linking together large numbers of distributed data sources and has produced software to automatically integrate a large number of the databases used in th