SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Representatives from the U.S. Navy's Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) provided Sailors an early look at automated data analytic capabilities during a successful demonstration July 8-14, as part of Trident Warrior.
The technologies enable Sailors to more quickly analyze the ever-increasing amount of data afloat to improve operational planning and decisions.
The Naval Integrated Tactical-Cloud Reference for Operational Superiority (NITROS) is designed to provide quicker, more comprehensive tactical analysis in support of the Navy's increasing emphasis on information warfare. This system-of-systems risk reduction effort displayed an initial set of tactical data analytic capabilities afloat. NITROS represents an incremental step in exploiting the expected wealth of both organic and non-organic data available to Navy tactical platforms to provide decisive operational advantages. The demonstration examined the unique difficulties of analyzing information across multiple programs, fusing data from different sources, in a communications-challenged environment.
"NITROS brings the power of automation to analysts' workflows, allowing them to dedicate their time to the 'why' instead of the 'how,'" Dr. Bob Parker, PEO C4I technical director, explained. "They can dive directly into the work of analysis on a greater volume of data than ever before. NITROS represents an enterprise-wide shift toward collaborative integrated delivery of information warfare."
During the demonstration at Trident Warrior, engineers aboard aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) achieved all of their goals with the system, including showcasing increased data sharing among disparate C4I systems. That activity included multiple tasks such as ingesting meteorological and oceanographic (METOC) data into intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance processes; ingesting command and control processes; and performing predictive analysis, alerting and sharing processed data.
"NITROS moves information from stovepipes to enterprise services," said Alphonso Wilcox, NITROS lead at PEO C4I. "The demonstration showcased initial mission applications transitioning to a data-analytics architecture, and provided an opportunity for PEO C4I to evaluate its acquisition and engineering processes with regard to the technological and fielding agility required by cloud environments."
NITROS is one of the largest experiments to occur in a Trident Warrior event, despite being a demonstration and not an official program of record. When implemented, its capabilities will reach the fleet via other programs, not as a standalone system. Trident Warrior gave such programs an opportunity to perform risk reduction on high-risk capabilities. The effort supports an fiscal years 2019 and 2020 fielding of tactical analytic capabilities afloat and ashore, enabling greater situational awareness and more insightful operational planning.
PEO C4I collaborated on the demonstration with the Office of Naval Research. Specific programs in the effort include:
* PEO C4I's Distributed Common Ground System-Navy Increment 2 (DCGS-N Inc 2)
* PEO C4I's Maritime Tactical Command and Control (MTC2)
* PEO C4I's Agile Core Services (ACS), as part of the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES)
* ONR's Tactical Cloud Reference Implementation (TC RI)
* ONR's Situational Awareness Visualization Analytics (SAVA)
The work allowed PEO C4I's DCGS-N Inc 2 and MTC2 programs to reduce technical and implementation risk in fiscal year 2016 and improve confidence prior to the programs' Milestone B events. MTC2 was delivered via a Platform as a Service provided by ACS.
Additional goals of the demonstration were to lay the groundwork for delivering automated data gathering and dissemination afloat, and to explore approaches for data synchronization and analysis in a constrained communications environment. Personnel also evaluated TC RI data analytic framework performance.
"NITROS demonstrates work center-based workflow automation for mission accomplishment and high-side intelligence fusion augmented with Open Track Management operational awareness," Wilcox said.
Data overload has been a problem in recent years with the exponential increase in sensors and systems, and the Sailors who experimented with NITROS were excited about the solutions it offers. (Note: All comments are anonymous to allow for honest feedback.)
One Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class (IS2) highlighted the ability of NITROS to make it easier to include more METOC data in analysis, something the fleet wants to achieve for more informed decision making.
Another IS2 said, "You're always in crunch time using the current systems. [NITROS capability] really frees up time."
The most rewarding and meaningful feedback the NITROS team received involved Sailors saying they look forward to having these new capabilities in their regular missions with the fleet.
"Learning about the whole time lapse thing — that's huge. [Learning] that it has a potential to be part of our jobs — that's awesome," a petty officer who used a time slider to animate the display of both historical data and future projections explained.
Going forward, the data analytic capabilities in NITROS will help inform the development of apps that could use common services so developers only have to provide their domain-specific capabilities. The approach reduces duplication and redundancy, providing long-term cost- and time-saving benefits to the Navy.
"NITROS was a great success," Wilcox said. "We met our objectives, successfully reducing risk for PEO C4I programs and proving the power and viability of automation and improved operator usability across systems. We're excited to see how this informs programs or projects going forward to improve the Navy's information warfare posture."
Rita Boland supports the PEO C4I DPEO Plans and Strategy Team.
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