Battlefield awareness and the soldiers of the future
Thursday, 27 September 2012
A study published by IDATE earlier this year assures that an important part of the recent market growth in M2M satellite communications was caused, among other things, by the increase of its use in military applications.
Acknowledging the potential of GPS-based M2M and wireless sensor networks to coordinate military operations, the militaries of many countries are using them in many critical operations. The U.S. Army currently employs a system called Blue Force Tracker (BFT), which provides a commander with real-time feed of the soldier’s location and allows to track individual units.
Providing information in real time of the location of something or somebody is important when you are running a business, but when your life or the life of your comrades is on the line, it is vital to be able to rely on a superior tracking solution.
Projects such as Future Force Warrior aim to integrate not only tracking technology, but also monitoring of biometric readings of the soldiers to know their status at every moment. Among the data provided would be body and skin temperature, heart rate, and hydration levels.
From securing intel to taking care of soldiers
On September 2012, the site AOL Defense published an article describing a series of information and intelligence management problems that NATO forces were experiencing in the campaign of Libya. In the article, interviewee US Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, suggested that the solution to avoid similar future problems might be to "develop systems that allow for the machine-to-machine transfer of data".
Providing secure data channels is one of the challenges of using M2M military applications. There are companies specialized in military-grade secure M2M communications. However, there are many more potential uses on the theater of operations.
Military transportation is a sector in which M2M could make great improvements. Fleet management and connected vehicle solutions similar to the civilian counterparts, may enable vehicle diagnostics. Training might be an interesting application as well: sensors capturing biometric readings might be useful to know if recruits can handle the physical demands of the training, or for monitoring injured soldiers.
In the end, the military applications are not very different of the civilian ones. The purpose may be saving lifes instead of being profitable, but the key still is improving the efficiency.