Tracking Soldiers, Mapping Relief


DARPA wants to electronically RFID tag US combat soldiers so they can then be swiftly found and rescued if they get into trouble.

The “Individual Force Protection System“, is being pursued by contractor Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

According to this presentation (pdf), given last year by DARPA officials, IFPS would consist of a small, three-inch lightweight tag attached to a soldier’s uniform and a variety of vehicle-borne or portable receivers. The tag does not need to have GPS, allowing its battery to last much longer.

In other tracking and mapping news:

  • Fortress Technologies announced this month that it has been selected this week as part of the team to support the DoD’s identity protection and management program. The contract, awarded to Telos, runs for one year with four, one-year options and has a potential value of $582 million, if all options are exercised.

    Handheld devices will be used at U.S. military checkpoints worldwide to scan Common Access Cards, the standard identification card for active duty military personnel and eligible contractors. DMDC maintains an archive of personnel, manpower, training, security, and financial data for more than 28 million individuals connected to the DoD.

  • Automatic Identification System (AIS) automatically broadcasts vessel information, such as their position, speed, and navigational status, at regular intervals via a VHF transmitter built into the transponder. That’s the kind of thing that could migrate to tiny Mobile WiMAX devices or even utilize domestic satellite links from ICO and MSV as soon as next year.

    Today more than 60 000 ships world-wide are equipped with AIS. Ports use their location information with their Vessel Traffic Service (VTS), Fleet Management, and Search & Rescue (SAR) operations.

  • The Emergency Management One smart card, available only to first responders, will be available with either the 125 KHz proximity chip, which has no storage, or the 13.56 MHz DESfire contactless chip with 4K or 8K storage capacity. Data on the DESfire chips can be encrypted with the Triple DES algorithm. Omnilink Systems uses a combination of gps, RFID and situation-specific sensors to transmit real-time information using commercial cellular networks for house-arrest programs.

    The U.S. Air Force has approved for use Digital Angel’s Advanced Aircrew Personal Locator Beacon, an active transponder worn by military personnel that transmits GPS-based location data.

    The transponder will be used in conjunction with the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system that provides distress, alert and location data to assist search and rescue operations. The system uses spacecraft and ground facilities to detect and locate distress beacons operating on 406 MHz or 121.5 MHz frequencies. As LEO satellites pass over a beacon, the apparent frequency shift allows responders to triangulate the position of the distress radio.

    By the 1st of February 2009 the 121.5 MHz distress EPIRBs (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons) will no longer be detected by satellites. You will need to purchase a new 406 MHz beacon. Advanced 406 MHz beacons are capable of transmitting a highly-accurate GPS location within their distress message, thus, the process of distress relief simply becomes “rescue” instead of “Search and Rescue.”

  • Super RFID technology uses long-range radar responsive (RR) tags. Originally, the active 430 MHz tags were designed using technology derived from a radar device requiring line-of-sight for reading. Since then, Sandia has modified the technology to its current form, which employs RFID to transmit ID numbers instead of radar reflections.

    Whether it could be interrogated by space radar like Lacrosse is unknown, but seems likely.

Web-based Medicine 2.0 applications use Web 2.0 technologies as well as semantic web and virtual reality tools. Healthmap.org (above) crawls through Web pages to identify potential outbreaks across the globe.

Cloud Computing enables an iPhone, BlackBerry or laptop, to reach into the cloud for resources as they need them. Biosurveillance monitors species moving between different bio-geographic regions.

Top Defense Contractors like Boeing, BAE Systems, L-3 and SAIC, as well as the National Applications Office and National Geospatial Agency seem likely to keep a short reign on IMINT despite all the happy talk. About half the staff at the NSA and NGA are private contractors, while 90 percent of the NRO workforce receive paychecks from private corporations. Open source solutions aren’t their forte.

But local data can also be captured by hand in Google Earth and saved in Google’s Keyhole Markup Language (KML) or Open Street Maps for sharing. Netguard solutions are more likely to come from organizations like Humaninet.org, Global Relief Technologies, Source Forge, InSTEDD, Inveneo or applications like SMS Geo-Chat and Open Street Maps.

The Global Connection team stitched 7,900 post-disaster NOAA fly-over images onto Google Earth for Katrina Overlays with Gigapixel resolution.

More boots on-the-ground. More actionable intelligence. Less bureaucratic and corporate clap-trap.

Making Maps Work When Disaster Strikes is key, explains Business Week. Mapping parties can add to the database. Sometimes information needs to be secured and controlled to protect lives, of course.

Related public service articles on DailyWireless include; Wildfire, NETGuard Mobilizes, Emergency Communications Applications, HumaniNet: Free Emergency Communications Event, Emergency Communications SimDay, MIT’s CarTel, CNN’s News Bureau in a Bus, Amateur Radio to the Rescue in Oregon, One Laptop Per Child Looses Intel, Meraki Proposes Free SF Wi-Fi Network, XO Does Windows?, Sequans + Quanta = WiMAX Laptops, Fish Net, Android Developer Challenge — $10M, Live Iridium Video from Arctic, California Wildfires Networked, Kyocera KR2 Mobile Router, Topoff 4 Begins in Portland, Minneapolis Bridge Collapse & Emergency Communications, Oregon’s $500 Million Statewide Wireless Network, Frontline: Out of Business, and Solar Powered WiMAX & WiFi.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .