Emergency responders to civilian crises soon may have the same command, control and communications capabilities that the armed forces use on the battlefield. Long-tested military communications technologies are being combined with state-of-the-art civilian systems to provide emergency communications when accidents, natural disasters or terrorist attacks damage or overwhelm an existing communications infrastructure.
Researchers are developing a prototype technology that may replace traditional command posts. The system consists of manportable, lightweight computers loaded with battle management software and collaboration tools. The devices will permit commanders to conduct highly mobile operations while maintaining situational awareness and connectivity to superiors and subordinates across the battlefield.
Communication is the lifeline during crises, and as the world transforms its communications backbone from traditional telephony to voice over the Internet, a movement is underway to expand priority services to the Internet. Many countries already have telephony priority access capabilities in place to expedite emergency services and recovery operations, and they are using these capabilities as a starting point.
Today's enterprise networks, major Internet exchange points and international peering points increasingly are being interconnected by high-speed fiber and gigabit Ethernet facilities. While these next-generation environments provide benefits in terms of speed and throughput, they also are brutally efficient at spreading distributed denial of service attacks, viruses and malicious worms that can disrupt network and application servers. The increase in the number and severity of attacks as well as the massive economic costs of malicious worms over the past three years indicate that defenses against these problems need to be improved.
Analysts who must search hours of audio recordings for key words of particular importance to a mission now can find them in a matter of seconds with nearly 100 percent accuracy. Because the technology supports any task that requires the search, analysis and monitoring of voice content, potential customers for the capability range from intelligence organizations looking for terrorist code words to customer service personnel seeking to improve client relations. Additional applications include knowledge management, training and education.
Technology's role in the worldwide war against terrorism and the critical part it plays in homeland security will be the focus of TechNet International 2002. Attendees will be privy to a wealth of information and view hundreds of technical solutions that address the key concerns of today's military, government and industry leaders.
By Cdre. Robert Howell, RN (Ret.), AFCEA Europe General Manager
In a month when the focus of SIGNAL Magazine might reasonably be expected to cover the aftermath of September 11 one year later, it is an honor to be invited to provide a European introduction to coincide with TechNet Europe in Budapest on October 17 and 18. And that, surely, is an example of the continuing strength of AFCEA International. For while world events may have a significant impact on one particular country, the association can take a broad view and incorporate the outcome into its agenda for the future, but maintain continuity of progress and action to improve and strengthen its appeal and commitment to the membership.
The increasing importance of network-centric warfare and the new war on terrorism have accelerated the urgency for NATO to implement new information technologies across the spectrum of its political and military operations. However, obsolete procurement architectures, differing political cultures and outright national chauvinism have been the major obstacles to rapid integration of new command, control and communications systems for NATO, according to a leading alliance official.
The post-Cold-War world holds both common and unique challenges for one of NATO's newest members. As one of three nations admitted to NATO in 1999, Hungary is wrestling with national and military goals that must constantly adjust to changing requirements both internally and internationally.
The future may be at hand in the form of a multicontinental contractor team that combines existing technology to develop an advanced radar system. This industry group draws on expertise from companies located in all 19 NATO nations to produce a system that could finally realize a long-sought NATO airborne ground surveillance capability.