Technical report | Building Trusted Reference Information at the Tactical Edge
Reference information libraries support fully integrated computer systems, enabling automated functions, such as identification and decision support, within the context of an environment. This structured information is prepared prior to a mission, distilled from a large pool of intelligence and environmental characteristics relevant to a mission outcome. The preparation time can be lengthy, requiring rigorous verification and validation before being used to optimise a platform and its sensors. This study investigated information exchange and processing under the pressures and limitations of first respondents at the tactical edge to provide insight into transitioning reference information to a dynamic 'real-time' paradigm. This preliminary work suggests that the updates to the reference information are trusted based on comparison to expectations; whether it is an expected behaviour or a more detailed construct, such as a trust ontology. Furthermore, the concept of reducing decision risk through the sharing of meta-data seems key, where the metadata reflects a trustworthiness property or trust-attitude, following assessment by the information receiver.
Reference information libraries support fully integrated computer systems, enabling automated functions, such as identification and decision support, within the context of an environment. This information is structured and prepared prior to a mission, distilled from a large pool of intelligence and environmental characteristics relevant to a mission outcome. The preparation time can be lengthy, requiring rigorous verification and validation before being used to optimise a platform and its sensors for a role. This reference information is therefore static and not adaptive to unexpected occurrences or outcomes.
Near real-time updates to the entity descriptions held within the reference library would aid in achieving the adaptability required. These updates would be an augmentation of the base library, reflecting the discovery of some new intelligence. This form of the library is called ‘dynamic reference information’. One of the key challenges facing the realisation of dynamic reference information is establishing trust in the library updates in near real-time.
The emergency services domain has been used as a surrogate for a defence joint task group environment for studying the exchange and processing of information. Emergency service personnel conducted search and rescue training scenarios while researchers collected the information flows between team members and between machines using video, audio and system logs. Three experimental runs were conducted, with durations exceeding 30 minutes each, addressing a series of incidents presented to the first responders as part of a larger scenario. Scenarios were designed to stimulate information flows and to leverage an implied reference information construct supporting dynamic reference information as well as shared situational understanding for distributed decision-making.
The preliminary results indicate the linkage between the critical events, the command and control hierarchy, information categories and implied reference information. The results indicate that a trust process runs throughout this information framework, with the concepts of trustworthiness, trust-attitude and trust-action playing out as the teams worked towards achieving their goals. Analysis indicates that the reference information supports the generation of requests, the interpretation by the receiving parties and the complementary information concept of a report. The preliminary research suggests that the updates to the reference information used in this domain are trusted based on comparison to known information of the environment and the entities operating within it. This is captured within a prescribed behaviour and can be categorised within an ontology.
The results hint at benefits derived from sharing the trust assessment throughout the team through tailored metadata. In the military context these results are key to realising the concept of dynamic mission data. Further analysis into the specifics of the trust process applied to updating reference information held by personnel in real-time will support the generation of a trust framework needed to support rapid information