Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics FKIE
- © Fraunhofer FKIE
Communicating reliably under all circumstances
A smooth exchange of information between operational forces is crucial to the successful outcome of crisis and threat scenarios. In this type of situation, however, it is essential that communication systems can operate under the harshest of conditions such as in regions where the communication infrastructure has crashed; between highly mobile subscribers; across network boundaries, as could be the case on international missions, and not forgetting, of course, interference from other technical or natural sources. In short: reliable and secure connections are the overriding objective. Or as we call it: “Robust information transfer for demanding atypical networks”. Our expertise in this area also covers the prevention of risks. Our technologies can, for example, help to thwart attacks such as those from radio triggered improvised explosive devices.
In order to ensure robust connections, even under adverse conditions, it is necessary to take a holistic approach to communication systems from the very beginning; from the elementary physical properties of radio wave propagation, through modulation, coding and multiplexing processes to higher protocol layers and network management. Beyond individual radio or communication protocols we always have the full hierarchy of the ISO-OSI model in mind. This is how viable solutions come to being. Examples would be interoperability concepts, which allow effective communication between any number of units or multi-hop processes, which achieve increased area coverage by enabling every radio node to forward data in a larger network. With our application oriented development process we achieve high practical relevance. We subject our results to thorough simulation tests on a number of different platforms and implement them in prototype form. We always test the practicability of our concepts in close collaboration with our clients.
Areas of Expertise
In-depth communication solutions are always based on system competence. The Communication Systems department can develop working prototypes in a very short time, because our employees have a deep understanding of how different platforms work. They have a broad expertise in the relevant areas of telecommunications and communication systems and can draw on extensive experience in atypical networks. This experience is particularly relevant to unsteady, narrow band, inadequately protected or heterogeneous environments. We are also experts in both hardware and software and bring both together in useful prototypes. The pioneering role of the Communication Systems department in many different technological fields is best illustrated in the area of the Internet: In 1985, we were among the first in Germany to install a connection to the Internet. The first IPv6-based VoIP connection over HF radio was established at the FKIE. The Multicast-Protocol P_MUL, which has since become a NATO standard, was developed here, making possible reliable file and e-mail traffic over unsteady channels. At the same time, we are leaders in the field of software-defined radio as well as the efficient processing of mass data. A multitude of publications and patents is proof of the scientific excellence of our research.
When it comes to the organization of operational forces, communication is, in a sense, the central nervous system that connects all parties, sensors and effectors to each other. Information must reliably arrive at the point where it is needed. Only then do all parties have a common operational picture and can act in an intelligent and coordinated manner. In this way, Network Enabled Capabilities (NEC) are an important factor for the Bundeswehr for successful reconnaissance, command & control and effects strategies. Since modern missions are usually set up along multinational lines, the interoperability of communication systems is vital. The same is true also for civilian aid operations during emergency situations and natural disasters: The ability to command is dependent on communication as well as, by the same token, robust interconnections.
In addition to these key applications more and more new application areas are opening up for our expertise:
- Transition: In the future large parts of the Internet will need to be converted to the future-proven IPv6 system.
- Smart Grids: Future “intelligent” energy networks will need tight coordination between generator, storage and the user and will rely on a proven network based on the Internet for example.
- Cross-organizational Communication: Increasingly, authorities and corporations must communicate securely and without interruption across technical system boundaries.
- Audio: The security sector requires technology for the long-term monitoring of suspicious voice communication as well as for the detection of relevant content in intercepted messages.
MANETs – Reliable Communication for Protecting People
Emergency aid and disaster operations rely on the fast response of the emergency services. There is rarely time to install and configure complex IT infrastructure and communication solutions. Communication, therefore, must function on an ad hoc basis. The concept of ad hoc networks (MANETs) provides for this. [more]
CoNSIS – Network Architectures for secure Information Exchange
Within the CoNSIS project, network concepts are developed which make it possible to securely connect networks of different nations via a potentially insecure network. It also allows for the mobility of individual or entire groups of communication peers within and between the various nations. [more]
Software Defined Radio – Key Technology for Network Enabled Capabilities (NEC)
If the Bundeswehr are to carry out their assignments in an efficient and target-driven manner, they need a broad range of skills. Network Enabled Capabilities (NEC) is a key driver for several of these skills. Key to this is the technology of software-defined radio. [more]