Genoa, Italy. The 31st Think-Tank for Information Decision and Execution (TIDE) Sprint, a wide ranging conference, focused on the most pressing interoperability challenges faced by NATO, now and in the future. In this week, NATO Allied Command Transformation welcomed more than 380 participants, representing 28 nations, 32 government organisations, 39 industry and 3 academic partners and 16 NATO commands and organisations to help NATO shape its future.
Before machines and entire systems can work as one, acting seamlessly together on operations to keep us safe, the people, processes and technology needed by NATO must be interoperable. "If we cannot work together, collaborate and propose solutions to NATO's interoperability problems here, I doubt it can be done anywhere,” said Rear Admiral Onder Celebi, Assistant Chief of Staff for Command and Control, Deployability and Sustainability at NATO Allied Command Transformation during his opening address. The spirit of TIDE Sprint is to generate ideas that will help prepare the Alliance to tackle future security challenges successfully.
TIDE Sprint has significantly evolved over the years. It is now an integral part of Allied Command Transformation's ‘Interoperability Continuum’; a series of inter-connected NATO interoperability events that include TIDE Sprint, TIDE Hackathon, Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise and other exercises. Together, these events allow NATO and its Partner Nations to design interoperable systems that can operate together effectively from the very beginning of an operation.
The recent TIDE Hackathon took place three weeks ago, when 14 competing teams competed to provided answers to some of the most significant interoperability challenges by modeling and coding future solutions.. The winning team from Poland separated the military communications component from the application layer, integrating open source and commercially available solutions. The result is an App for mobile devices that brings situational awareness and augmented reality to the dismounted soldier, allowing communication with tactical commanders in a bandwidth constrained environment. The team will test and experiment with its solution later this year at Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise to develop interoperability specifications that can be applied by NATO and its Partners to improve federated mission networking.
The federation of 3D printing amongst NATO and national forces engaged in a NATO mission enters the experimentation phase. In the 2016 TIDE Sprint, Logistics experts brainstormed 3D printing, formed a community of interest among Allies and agreed to develop this capability under the lead of NATO Allied Command Transformation, ensuring that interoperability was considered ‘up front’ rather than later when it would take longer to achieve and be more expensive. During Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise in 2017, a deployable 3D printing capability was presented to generate additional interest among allied nations. At the current TIDE Sprint, plans were finalized to federate 3D printing at Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise in June, using blockchain to secure the exchange of 3D printing files and data between different nations. Provided everything works, the USA and Norway will further test their 3D printing capabilities in October this year, in a realistic and demanding operational environment during the NATO Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE.
In the medical realm, blood forwarding and telemedicine was explored at TIDE Sprint to improve the quality of medical care of our troops in the field. Instead of transporting a patient back to the next medical facility, medical experts are identifying ways of quickly delivering blood forward, facilitated by autonomous drones, to provide timely treatment immediately after a traumatic injury. Telemedicine also enables medical staff to improve the quality and speed of medical treatment provided to our troops. Medical advice from doctors and specialists, supported by artificial intelligence, will make high quality medical treatment or remote diagnostics more available, wherever the injury occurs and in time to make a real difference and even save lives. In addition, by using sensors and big data analytics, the physical condition of forces can be assessed at any time to improve their health and keep them safer and fitter.
The underlying theme for TIDE Sprint is ’federation’, working together seamlessly, connecting effortlessly to improve interoperability and allow us to act as ‘one NATO’. The Federated Mission Networking initiative is a key enabler for Allied and Partner Nations, allowing forces to better communicate, train and operate together improving the interoperability and operational effectiveness of the Alliance. The Federated Mission Networking experts joined TIDE Sprint tracks to leveraged the presence of scientists, engineers and operators from many communities of interest to de-risk and synchronize the development of current and future interoperability specifications. In doing so, the ‘idea’ of Federated Mission Networking becomes more a routine element of everyone’s business as they work to achieve interoperability.
The next step in Allied Command Transformation’s 'Interoperability Continuum' is Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise in June in Bydgoszcz, Poland in which a number of concepts and solutions developed at TIDE Sprint will be experimented with, tested and verified ready for deployment in NATO missions, and exercises such as Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE that takes place late this year.
The TIDE Sprint series will be continued with the fall TIDE Sprint on 15-19 October 2018 in Norfolk, VA, USA.