Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics FKIE
The best of both Worlds
When the Bundeswehr is deployed as part of a multi-national military alliance or when international aid organizations are active in crisis areas, they are always in need of up-to-date operational information. Without it they are unable to act in the most effective and coordinated way possible at any given time. The FKIE is designing and refining the technical infrastructure required to make this level of Network Enabled Capabilities possible.
Similar technology and processes can also be used to optimize corporate management. This is particularly so for corporations operating across international borders who are often faced with comparable challenges regarding complex management and decision-making processes. This is only one of many examples of “dual use”, where the results of FKIE research are also relevant in the civilian world. Others include security assistance systems which are now being used in many non-military environments. They are making an important contribution to ensuring that public life can continue unimpaired by terrorist threats. One of the key challenges facing modern society is ensuring the safety of participants and the public at political, sporting and cultural events without compromising their freedom of movement. Research carried out at the FKIE helps make this possible and in doing so enriches our daily lives.
Network Enabled Capabilities
Network Enabled Capabilities (NEC) assistance systems help the Bundeswehr carry out assignments such as reconnaissance, command and engagement. As the number of missions carried out as part of international alliances increases, such as those in , so does NEC grow in importance. Crucial to the success of such missions is the fact that all of the forces involved have access to the same current and common operational picture in order that they can assess potential threats in the same way and have the ability to exchange sensitive information securely.
When organizing military forces, communication is the central nervous system that binds all the parties, agencies and sensors together. Intelligent coordinated action is only possible if information reliably arrives where it is needed. Rapidly available, integrated tactical information forms the basis of in-depth and successful decision-making. The technical prerequisite for this is a communication and sensor network that provides semantic and technological compatibility beyond language and system boundaries, and that remains fully functional even in unstable environments or during major disaster scenarios: whether they are on the ground, in the air, at sea or under water.
The FKIE Solution
The command & control information and assistance systems developed at the FKIE are developed after extensive field tests under real conditions, in exact accordance with the requirements outlined above. Our aim is to support users in all areas of the strategic, operational and tactical command and control process: monitoring, orienting, decision making and acting. We have the entire spectrum of skills at our disposal, from specialist technology to ergonomic design. We are equally fully conversant with the entire data processing chain: data acquisition, transmission, processing, editing, presentation and protection. Our unceasing motto is “Take a mission-centric approach”. In this way we focus closely on the requirements of the future user from the earliest stages of the project and use working prototypes for fundamental research, in order to prove the practicability of our concept. It is on account of our many years’ experience that clients trust us as impartial consultants for procurement and expertise.
The market for security technology is growing. Diffuse terrorist threats have created an increased demand for security assistance systems designed to protect civil liberties such as the freedom of assembly. Such sought after solutions demand precisely the in-depth and application-focused security research carried out by the FKIE.
In many public areas, such as airports, railway stations or in and around government buildings and parliaments, we face a complex monitoring challenge. The situation is sometimes unclear but the potential damage is great. Yet the ultimate responsibility rests entirely in the hands of human decision-makers who are often exposed to severe stress and must act under great time pressure. Even the most experienced and specialist security experts are frequently so busy dealing with routine tasks that they have little time available to direct their expertise at identifying potential threats.
The FKIE Solution
Automated security assistance systems recognize potential dangers within large gatherings of people and so free up staff from routine monitoring tasks. Ultimate responsibility, however, still rests in human hands but because multi-sensor security assistance systems are able to detect specific anomalies such as explosives being carried about a person’s body and can bring them to the immediate attention of the security experts, who can then target those sources of danger more precisely. The key achievement of the solutions developed by the FKIE is that of making it possible for security staff to manage the complex task of monitoring people. Security systems as we understand them guarantee a greater degree of security without limiting the freedom of the public yet have the capability of handling sensitive data with appropriate care.
As part of the FKIE business sector Security Assistance Systems we explore, conceive and develop such demanding system solutions for surveillance assignments. Assistance systems of this kind are characterized by their ability to adapt, to the extent that they can even “learn” to react to threats that are still largely unknown.
Managers of large, globally operating, companies are often faced with complex management issues. However, many of them still fail to take full advantage of affordable technical solutions developed to optimize the management process by making it more effective and flexible. The mechanisms inherent in the Network Enabled Capabilities (NEC), which ensure that all members of cross-coalition military operations are always fully coordinated, can also offer an attractive solution to decision-makers in the business world.
Industry’s managerial elite have to make important decisions with far-reaching implications on a daily basis and often under severe time constraints, and in some cases with only vague information about the situation. The need to coordinate managers acting simultaneously and globally represents a demanding challenge to companies operating across national boundaries. Different branches, subcontractors and suppliers will not necessarily always share a common situational awareness. Valuable knowledge may lie in the minds of colleagues or on local, incompatible systems, unless it is made available to all parties as a common base for decision-making. What is missing is an integrated communication and support system that will function across language barriers and technical boundaries. Traditional approaches to overcoming complex issues such as the decomposition of functions, modularization and standardization are no longer relevant to today’s decision-making processes so that their coordination, planning and optimization tasks pose a range of problems. At the same time, many organizations are having to prove themselves in a less secure environment in which attacks and industrial espionage are on the increase, particularly as a result of the Internet.
The FKIE Solution
Support systems designed in accordance with the Network Enabled Capabilities model can improve management information systems throughout the management process. An important aspect of this is knowledge of critical events or conditions, known in the military as “situation information”. An essential prerequisite to managing a number of projects, as well as to making strategic decisions is the ability to identify, contextualize, adapt and present to the decision makers the knowledge they require to carry out the task at hand. In any given situation the activities of those involved can only be meaningfully and effectively coordinated if they all have the same broad understanding of the situation and are able to systematically counter-check it against their own knowledge. The difficulties of predicting critical events, combined with fluctuating conditions in the areas where the decisions are to be implemented, means that plans must be regularly adapted. Since weakly structured processes can only be partially determined and controlled by classical benchmarks, it is not possible to optimize the collaborative process just by applying a simple set of rules. It is essential that the decision-maker has the broadest possible understanding of the situation including all pertinent factors and the dependencies they have.
Although typical of military command and control processes these features are of equal importance to managing simultaneous, collaborative projects and the work procedures required when developing and procuring high-tech products. The adaption of our knowledge of military command, control and reconnaissance to industrial applications has led to the creation of so-called “Management Cockpits“. These are new support systems which enable program, project and process managers to make target-focused decisions despite severe time constraints as they offer a more precise overview of the prevailing situation in both the project and the process portfolio as well as the associated projections. We also undertake collaborative research and development with manufacturers of application systems enabling them to enhance the performance of their products through the integration of management assistance systems.
Increased networking within and between companies has made them increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks and we are developing dedicated defense strategies to address this mounting threat in virtual space. The experts in our Cyber Defense Labs keep pace with the rapid development of network infrastructure technology and the diversification of such potential threats in the form of so-called DoS attacks, malware, botnets or phishing. As a result they can offer specific and individual IT security support to decision-makers in all areas of network-based management.