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Army Researchers Work to Improve Information Systems

By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2010 – Army researchers are working to integrate command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities during the early stages of research and development.

“We have had to adapt our Army to deploy systems in the battlefield we hadn't planned for originally in order to defeat the enemy,” David Jimenez said during a recent “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable. Jimenez is associate director of systems engineering at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Communications-Electronics Center at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

“These capabilities have evolved very quickly over the course of the war, and they continue to do so,” he said.

The center, known as CERDEC, is working to integrate new capabilities such as sensors, digital technology, applications and data system in the research and development stage.

The Army network of the future will be a “system of systems,” Jimenez said, so it is important that capabilities and devices be integrated and assessed early in their development to see how they will perform together, rather than waiting until they are fielded.

“The Army has employed and matured telecommunications on the battlefield rapidly, and it's always been operationally challenging to have modern or network communications on the battlefield,” he said.

Jason Sypniewski is chief for CERDEC’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance -- known as C4ISR -- and Network Modernization Integrated Event Design and Analysis Branch. He views CERDECS’ research as an early test bed for new communications and information systems before they reach the battlefield.

“We [can] provide our insights and feedback and share our data,” he said.

Jimezez said one of the things CERDEC is engaged in during the research and development stages is the presentation of data in a way that allows soldiers to quickly understand what is being sent to them and be able to act on it.

“Those are ongoing research areas that are looking at exactly how a task should be accomplished, how the human takes in data and structuring our screens and our applications to be able to take advantage and make this less burdensome for soldiers,” he said.

Researchers are looking at ways for soldiers to be able to scan or move data with their fingers and to be able to present data without having a heavy reliance on keyboard-actuated response, Jimenez said. They also are looking into voice recognition and other advances that have occurred in the commercial marketplace and applying them to the Army.

“We're leveraging what we see happening in the commercial marketplace with smart phones and ‘smart apps’ and location-aware applications to enable being able to get battlefield information to soldiers when and where they need it,” Jimenez said.

Sypniewski added that working closely with partners out of the Army Research Lab and other efforts that are focused on human cognitive analysis gives them the opportunity to work with the end-user to get their feedback. “That goes directly back to the developer,” he said.

Jimenez said that he thinks the research and development underway will provide incredible transformations in terms of information provided to soldiers.

“It's always changing. It's always adaptive. It's exciting,” he said.

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