NATO

Federated Interoperability

Interoperability_logo.pngHow much do you know about interoperability and the meaning of federated interoperability? Did you know that NATO has one of the best definitions of interoperability around?

“The ability to act together coherently, effectively and efficiently to achieve Allied objectives”

This sums what we do as an Alliance and is a cornerstone of our work in ACT. We see federated interoperability as a collective effort shared between Alliance and Partner Nations and other organizations. For those involved in Federated Mission Networking (or “FMN”) you know that, through FMN, we are on a path toward ‘day zero’ interoperability. This means that in the long-term, Alliance nations and partners, will ‘hard-wire’ interoperability into their capabilities ready for the very first day of a NATO mission.

The ‘Interoperability Continuum’ enables federated interoperability by linking three major HQ SACT interoperability events; the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise (CWIX), The Think-Tank for Information Decision and Execution Superiority (TIDE) Sprint, and the TIDE Hackathon? Its purpose is to ensure that our command and control capabilities can exchange operational information in the right format, to the right person at the right time so that NATO commanders and decision makers have the situational awareness needed to make good decisions, quickly! This is what our three Interoperability Continuum events do:


CWIX – is the biggest interoperability event of its kind in NATO. It is where Alliance and partner nations make sure that their command and control capabilities de-risk interoperability as an essential first-step toward NATO missions such as the NRF or VJTF. At the same time, CWIX is a testbed for interoperability specifications that are hard-wired into experimental and near-fielded capabilities, ready for future NATO missions.

Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise - CWIX

cwix-logo.pngCWIX - Achieving Federated Interoperability now!

Federated interoperability is a key part of every capability and has a force multiplying effect in terms of operational effectiveness and cost efficiency. The CWIX 2020 VIP event will demonstrate the resilience of NATO and partner nations as they continue to innovate in order to improve interoperability, even during a global pandemic.

CWIX is NATO's premier interoperability event, operationally driven and technically supported, that meets a broad spectrum of interoperability validation and verification requirements. The Command & Control (C2) capabilities present at CWIX span the complete Communications and Information Systems (CIS) spectrum and represent the current, near-term, future and experimental capabilities of NATO and its Partner Nations. CWIX puts an emphasis on systems that will deploy with NATO-led operations, particularly those related to Federated Mission Networking (FMN) as a major component of the enhanced NATO Response Force (eNRF), Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), and Initial Follow on Forces Group (IFFG) roadmap to support military readiness.

At the highest levels, NATO recognises that interoperability enhances information sharing between NATO and partner nations and that interoperability is the key enabler that improves situational awareness, so we can make better decisions faster. Not only does this increase the likelihood of success, but it also serves the men and women of our militaries by reducing operational risk and keeping them safe.

CWIX allows nations to experiment, test and de-risk their deployable systems before undertaking missions such as the NATO Response Force. It allows commanders to 'fine-tune' their Command and Control capabilities before achieving combat readiness at the Steadfast Cobalt and Trident Juncture exercises. Nations also test interoperability between mobile tactical radios in preparation for the Very High Readiness Task Force, they test and improve cyber awareness and confirm 'day zero' readiness of deployable Command and Control capabilities.

CWIX addresses a wide spectrum of technical and procedural interoperability between currently deployed, near-term, future and experimental capabilities. Interoperability testing before and during development reduces deployment times and cost, minimizes system failure in NATO missions and allows nations to design interoperability into their systems. At the same time, CWIX fosters innovation by identifying and solving interoperability shortfalls, experimenting with alternative approaches, and exploring emerging technologies. Altogether, CWIX helps maintain the military advantage of NATO and national troops in an increasingly complex and uncertain global security environment.

CWIX normally culminates in an annual execution event, mainly at the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic however, CWIX 2020 will be a fully distributed event that takes place at national locations across the classified Combined Federated Battle-Lab (CFBL) Network and purpose-built unclassified networks. To this end, CWIX 2020 will – even in times of crisis – provide NATO, member and partner nations and other organizations with a controlled environment to test, identify and fix their interoperability issues to continuously improve NATO interoperability and resilience in future crisis.

For further information about CWIX, please contact the CWIX Management Team: sactcwix@act.nato.int


TIDE Sprint – brings together operators, engineers, scientists and managers from governments, military, academia and industry to collaborate and contribute to future concepts, requirements and interoperability specifications. TIDE Sprint allows NATO’s communities of interest to jump-start new ideas and connect with experts to accelerate the development of interoperable capabilities.

TIDE Sprint

tide sprint generic banner

NATO defines interoperability as “The ability to act together coherently, effectively and efficiently to achieve Allied objectives”. It is the foundation of all NATO operations and a cornerstone of the Alliance.

tide-sprint-generic-banner.jpgThe ‘Think-Tank for Information Decision and Execution’ (TIDE) Sprint is a bi-annual event that improves federated interoperability throughout the Alliance by exploring concepts and ideas, demonstrating technology and developing specifications, requirements and programmes of work. At TIDE Sprint operators, engineers, scientists and technicians from nations’ governments, military, academia and industry come together in a spirit of collaboration, cooperation and innovation to advance in one week, what would otherwise take many months to achieve. The outcomes and recommendations from TIDE Sprint events inform, inspire and advance the work of participants and community of interest capability development and programmes of work.

TIDE Sprint events normally takes place twice a year, every spring in Europe and every fall in the United States. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we have modified our format to deliver fully on-line events. Each TIDE Sprint event will provide a number of functional ‘tracks’ that are led by experienced Subject Matter Experts and supported by a NATO community of interest; between them they will design a ‘track agenda’ to reflect the most pressing problems that must be solved!

TIDE Sprint events are open to NATO, partner nations and Non-NATO entities (NNEs). They take place in an unclassified environment and all sessions are conducted in English. Additional information on event administration, registration, past presentations and reports is available on the password protected TIDEPEDIA website. For access to Tidepedia, please email tide@act.nato.int, including your first and last name, email address and the government or military organisation you represent. Industry and academia are encouraged to participate but require sponsorship from NATO, or from a national government or military representative.

Spring 2021 TIDE Sprint

The Spring 2021 edition of TIDE Sprint will run from 12-16 Apr 2021. This event was due to take place in Lillehammer, Norway, but like the previous TIDE Sprint, will now take place as a virtual event allowing us to extend the reach and accessibility of this popular event to an entirely online audience. This edition of TIDE Sprint will be unique because for the first time, we will run the TIDE Hackathon as a separate, but parallel activity that will allow us to bring together the best of both events as we move through what will be an exciting week of online activity.

At this TIDE Sprint we invite you to take part in our first ‘Multi-Domain Command and Control’ track that will explore multi-domain, what it means for NATO and its implications for future capability development. We are also pleased to host our first ‘Future METOC Services’ track that will explore the emerging ‘NATO Integrated METOC Briefing and User Services (NIMBUS) tool’. Given the ongoing global pandemic, we will also continue our theme of Medical Innovation and the use of emerging technologies such as block-chain and examine options for disease Surveillance; and will examine the continued evolution of Cyberspace as a domain of operations, with an emphasis on education and training.

As always, a core theme of our work is federated interoperability and how Federated Mission Networking (FMN) helps realise our goal of ‘day zero’ interoperability. We will provide opportunities to see what FMN means for you, and its impact in many areas of command and control.

This is just a few highlights; the list of tracks for this TIDE Sprint event is below, please refer to TIDEPEDIA for detailed agendas:

  • Communications
  • Cyberspace
  • Data Centric Security (DCS)
  • Data Science
  • Federated Mission Networking (FMN)
  • Federated Service Management and Control (FSMC)
  • Maritime Services
  • Medical
  • Future METOC Services
  • Multi-Domain Command and Control (MDC2)

TIDE Hackathon – is a ‘deep-dive’ into a difficult interoperability problems to see if new or emerging technologies will provide the solution. We bring teams of enthusiastic IT and software experts into a competitive environment for a 1-week period of intense ‘hacking’. What they achieve over such a short time is surprising, with rapid demonstrations of novel technologies to help understand technology, identify future requirements, or even develop software solutions!

TIDE Hackathon

hackathon-logo.pngIn response to the dynamically changing geopolitical environment we face today, NATO conducts a process of continuous transformation guided by a high-level political agenda. Bringing effective change to such a large organization is, however, a complex endeavor. It involves many actors and typically a lengthy procurement process. This significantly hampers innovation, especially in the area of Information and Communications Technology where rapid, agile methods have proven to be much more effective.

Allied Command Transformation, as NATO’s Warfare Development Command, has developed the TIDE Hackathon to innovate and to promote the idea of federating "Interoperability by Design" between the NATO Alliance, its Partner Nations and Non-NATO Entities. TIDE Hackathons address future needs by applying a proven hackathon format to engage diverse groups of experts in a competitive and highly intensive work environment, over a limited period to focus on specific challenges related to interoperability and to develop innovative solutions that provide a deeper understanding of the impact that emerging and disruptive technologies have on federated interoperability. TIDE Hackathons also provide an opportunity for small teams to demonstrate and improve their skill, and to learn more about the challenges facing NATO.

The TIDE Hackathon is embedded into Allied Command Transformation's Interoperability Continuum, a series of related and connected events (that include the bi-annual TIDE Spring and the annual CWIX Exercise), that allow the NATO Alliance, Partner Nations and other Organizations to continually develop and improve federated interoperability between deployable command and control capabilities. Teams consisting of 2 to 4 experts from NATO and partner nations' government, industry or academic organizations are welcome to apply. Teams are expected to work competitively, but in the spirit of collaboration.

For the 2021 TIDE Hackathon teams are invited to select from the following challenges

The theme of the 2021 TIDE Hackathon is Solving Multi Domain interoperability challenges through Emerging and Disruptive Technologies. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions imposed by nations, this year's TIDE Hackathon will be a fully virtual event with teams participating from places of work, home offices and other locations. The 2021 TIDE Hackathon and the Spring 2021 TIDE Sprint will run concurrently from 12 - 16 April 2021. Challenges fall into the following catagories:

  • Future of Battle Damage Assessment - The targeting process has numerous elements that are dependent on human assessment and rely on staff to be able to access, understand and visualize targeting data. Interoperability is difficult because data sits at various classification levels, different formats and can be time-sensitive. Effective visualization of Battle Damage Assessment is not available, and there is no stand-alone capability to collect timely BDA. Other process elements, such as Measurement of Effect, are also demanding on staff time and delay subsequent planning.
  • Medical Information Management - Identify medical facility capacity and availability for multiple categories of patients enabling medical planners to rapidly identify the optimal location for a patient(s).
  • Open Challenge - This option is available only to those teams who registered for the TIDE Hackathon prior to 31 January

The TIDE Hackathon is open to NATO, partner nations and other organisations; events take place in an unclassified environment and all sessions are conducted in English. Additional information on the challenges, event administration, registration, past presentations and reports are available on the password protected TIDEPEDIA website. For access to Tidepedia, please send an email to tide@act.nato.int, including your first and last name, your telephone number, email address and the government or military organisation you represent. Industry and academia are encouraged to participate but require sponsorship from NATO, or from a national government or military representative.