Technical report | Conducting Information Superiority Research in an Unclassified Surrogate Defence Environment
Defence experimentation brings significant value, but also significant overheads. Therefore to achieve rapid development it is important to strike a balance between working on real systems and surrogate systems (when there is a straightforward translation to Defence systems and/or scenario). The emergency services domain is one such non-Defence surrogate system offering significant potential to mitigate many of these overheads. In November 2017 an information exchange experiment was conducted under the Real-Time Information Superiority Experimentation (RISE) initiative with Surf Life Saving South Australia to gauge the applicability of this domain to Defence research. The outcome was a success, leveraging extended resources and expertise at no cost, producing a varied set of applicable data products and a rich pool of information capable of supporting ongoing research into information superiority. We recommend to continue this line of experimentation while increasing its complexity and exploiting its dynamic nature.
As always, mission success at the 'tactical edge' will be enabled by information superiority over adversaries. The nature, extent and seamless availability of the information needed to achieve this superiority in the future battle-space will continue to grow over time. The Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group is conducting research on the development and application of advanced information-network and software technologies; seeking seamless integration of heterogeneous military tactical information systems by addressing the challenges of operating at the tactical edge.
This work is supported by various stages of research: from generating hypotheses, to modelling and simulation, laboratory tests and operationally relevant experimentation with Defence systems. Despite the value derived from experimentation involving Defence systems and operators, such experimentation can bring significant overheads and impediments to timely progress. In the majority of cases, many of the vexing integration and interoperability science and technology (S&T) risks and issues can be investigated and solved more quickly, and at much lower cost, in a completely unclassified surrogate environment.
A potential surrogate domain that operates in a tactical edge-like environment is the emergency services domain (ESD). This domain seeks to develop many of the same information exchange and management concepts and capabilities that Defence is pursuing, but in an unclassified environment that is adaptable, agile and highly configurable. Under the Real-Time Information Superiority Experimentation (RISE) initiative, an experiment was conducted on 25 November 2017 by DST, Consilium Technology and Surf Life Saving South Australia (SLSSA). That experiment investigated the utility of conducting Defence-relevant experimentation within the ESD to support ongoing information superiority research. The experiment used a simulated search and rescue scenario to identify the quality and quantity of suitable data/information that could be produced in a surf life saving environment to assess its suitability for informing Defence research.
It was determined that this ESD scenario contained similar characteristics, challenges and technologies as the Defence tactical edge. The environment was found to be dynamic and produced multiple complimentary data products that involved diverse and rapid information exchanges between participants. Post-experimental analysis further confirmed Defence relevance by identifying challenges in sharing, processing and interpreting information. The Tactical-Systems-Integration Experimentation Architecture Support (TEXAS) framework was also found to be a solid foundation for experimentation, supporting multiple aspects of the future research. Working in the ESD allowed abstracted information, technologies and scientific concepts to be studied quickly and at low cost whilst providing tangible benefits to Defence. From this initial study we recommend moving to the next phase of experimentation, where the focus will be on trusted reference data, interoperability, decision aids and fully adaptable software architectures.