Interoperability, Acquisition, Mobility Cap GMU C4I Conference

May 30, 2013
By Max Cacas

In the bright world of a fully interoperable U.S. Army, soldiers will be able to access tactical command and control information from any digital device using a standard Web browser, Dr. Michael Hieb, research associate professor, Center for Excellence in C4I, George Mason University, explained. A common operating environment also will enable military staffs to customize command and control software as needed. In fact, staff might even find themselves able to create entirely new applications to manipulate data as needed.

Dr. Heib, who is also a top level adviser to the Army in the area of modeling and simulation, spoke at the AFCEA SOLUTIONS Series – George Mason University Symposium, “Critical Issues in C4I.” He noted that trends in interoperability suggest that the “apps” model of developing small software applications designed to do a limited set of tasks, borrowed from the smartphone world, will take advantage of other development in common operating environments. Dr. Heib also suggested that the new keywords describing work done in the area of interoperability are “agility” (the ability to quickly adapt to new and different kinds of information and big data) and “collaboration” (the ability to allow personnel and organizations to readily share information in the pursuit of a common mission).

Acquisition reform, particularly in the realm of military information technology, can be compared with a common saying about the weather: everyone talks about it, but no one has figured out how to fix it. In the afternoon, Chris Gunderson with the Naval Postgraduate School led a presentation reviewing some of the most recent efforts to rethink research and development in the area of information technology. He pointed to the recent PlugFest competitions, featured at recent AFCEA conferences, as one possible model that might be used to to speed development of future systems and bring new technology to the warfighter.

The conference concluded with a panel discussion about one of the hottest topics in information technology in both the public and private sectors: mobility. Gary Bode, senior test engineer with the Army’s Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A), described how the system will facilitate processing, exploiting and disseminating intelligence between American troops and mission partners, including the intelligence community. Kevin Cox with the Justice Department talked about his work in the Federal Mobile Technology Tiger Team, an interdepartmental task force designed to address mobility issues with the Federal Digital Government Strategy. Daniel Taylor, a mobility specialist with Microsoft, addressed security concerns when it comes to mobile, emphasizing that in a mobile environment, the identity process needs to begin with the mobile device itself.

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