Northcom selects new interoperable technologies

The Pentagon's Northern Command is recommending technologies produced by Boeing Co. and by a small Reston, Va., firm for additional testing and funding based on its recent Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration project in June, according to the Defense Department's "After Action Report" this week.

Northcom, located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., is responsible for homeland defense and was established by the Joint Forces Command soon after the 9/11 attacks to address the new mission of civil defense.

In CWID, Northcom conducted trials of 26 new technologies that foster interoperability between civil, military and coalition authorities, choosing three products for further evaluation and funding.

Northcom selected for further trials and funding the Multi-level-secure Information Infrastructure (MI2), which is an information-sharing solution produced by Boeing of Chicago. It is capable of translating and distributing information between multiple network security domains simultaneously.

"MI2 provided an infrastructure for integrating existing information management enterprises across multiple secure networks in near real-time," according to the report. At CWID, MI2 was used to receive and distribute weather, Coast Guard and graphic data in different formats.

Northcom also chose the Incident Commander Radio Interface (ICRI), which is a small, rapidly deployable device to link users of dissimilar radios, produced by Communications-Applied Technology Inc. of Reston, Va., a privately held small business.

"ICRI provided a solution to voice communications between unmodified radios with dissimilar wave forms and/or operating in different parts of the frequency spectrum," said the report. "Previous software-based solutions could not be rapidly deployed, thus preventing agencies, units or teams from gaining and maintaining real-time situational awareness."

One of the CWID trials was an ICRI deployment by the Peterson AFB security forces squadron during an air show in June. It "successfully bridged the gap between the legacy 150 MHz system and the follow-on trunked radio system," the report said.

Northcom also selected for additional funding the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Weapons of Mass Destruction Common Operational Picture, which is an IT application used within command and control architectures. It provides awareness of dispersion of chemical agencies, with data on geographical plume information, analysis and links to other information portals.

All three technologies are recommended for inclusion in the Joint Forces Command's Transformation Change Proposal, which will guide use of new technologies in the coming years.

The CWID tests included participation from the Missouri and Kentucky National Guard bureaus, as well as the Coast Guard and other Homeland Security Department agencies.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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