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Activity title

System-of-systems Approach to Task Driven Sensor Resource Management for Maritime Situational Awareness (SoSMSA)

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Systems Concepts and Integration

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Awaiting Publication

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AIS, and Recon-naissance (ISR), Intelligence, Interoperability, Maritime situational awareness, Sensor cross cueing, Sensor management, Sensor selection, Surveillance


As one of the four »Global Commons« , the oceans and their shores play a pivotal role for the welfare of nations in our global society. They are paths of trade and source of food, repository of raw materials as well as a source of energy. But the maritime domain becomes more and more vulnerable. Legal trade is threatened by piracy, trade paths are misused for human trafficking and weapons smuggling. The rich offer of food can be overexploited by illegal fishery or destroyed by water pollution. Oil platforms and wind farms may become easy targets of terroristic attacks. - In order to secure the benefits of the maritime domain it is a crucial precondition to detect potentially hazardous activity as early as possible in order to initiate countermeasures in a timely manner. Therefore surveillance should not merely focus on the actual areas to protect. Surveillance should pay more attention on locations where a potentially hazardous activity starts and track the activity until there is sufficient situational awareness and strong evidence available for appropriate action or even for preemptive action. Origins of emerging threats can be manifold. And by the nature of the maritime domain as a global common it is obvious that the problem to track a potentially hazardous activity from the very beginning can hardly be solved by one nation alone. On a water surface of roughly 360 Million km2 ships cruise rather freely. It is therefore a major challenge to monitor this huge realm adequately. The radio-based ship identification system AIS allows excellent surveillance coverage. But firstly not all vessels are obliged to use AIS, and secondly AIS can be deliberately turned off or signals may be spoofed. Further-more AIS is blind for submersibles, a well-known military and an emerging non-military threat. So it is evident that we have to use a wide variety of sensors to detect, track, and classify ships, boats and even submarines with respect to their hazardousness. Sensor systems have different properties not only in terms of their spectral sensitivity and false alarm rates but also in terms of coverage area, observation distance and time, active vs. passive etc. Each sensor class is optimal to determine specific properties of the objects of interest with respect to detection, tracking and classification or even identification. The solution to »paint the sky black« with sensors in order to be prepared for all circumstances at each square mile of the oceans for every minute would lead to a squandering of monitoring resources. For this reason efficient and sound use of sensor resources is paramount for achieving maritime situational awareness. What kind of sensor (or more general: what information resource) gives us the best information in a certain phase of activity tracking? When, where and how should we ideally focus next? Who is the owner of sensing assets and what line of communication has to be established to task his sensors and to obtain the right information in the right format and the right time? How should the various surveillance assets become dynamically orchestrated to achieve better results with limited resources. How can a comprehensive approach – for example by an integrated government, commercial and military effort – assure maritime situational awareness as one crucial precondition to sustaining access to the Maritime Commons, as addressed at the ACT Workshop »NATO in the Maritime Commons« as a determining reason for NATO .


Explore the challenge of task driven sensor resource management for maritime situational awareness in detail with respect to hazardous maritime activities, their directly and indirectly observable properties and the sensor systems able to perform the observation task. Exchange information across the participant nations in the technology areas of automatically assisted detection and classification, inference of intent, decision making and mission planning. Recommend a cross-nations system-of-systems sensor management decision aid including standards for sensor-to-sensor cooperation and sensor cross cueing for effective and efficient orchestration of sensor resources. And to identify existing sensor gaps for future research and development efforts. Sequentially operate the participant software to emulate a Tactical Decision Aid (TDA) that covers the entire Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) chain. Assess the platform/sensor performances and mission effectiveness of the entire OODA chain in a testbed environment. The transferability to application areas other than the maritime domain is explicitly supported by the objectives of this activity.


The major topics of the activity are: 1. To understand what types of maritime activity are potentially hazardous. 2. To analyze what physical and behavioral properties or characteristic features separate hazardous from less and non-hazardous ones and what in these terms is directly observable or can be determined through indirect cues. 3. To create an inventory of current sensor systems in the hand of NATO nations that are capable to determine and con-tribute relevant properties of maritime activities. 4. To identify gaps in the spectrum of sensor assets including platforms for maritime situations awareness and to promote future research and technology efforts to close these gaps. 5. To survey existing standards for sensor-to-sensor cooperation and sensor cross cueing as crucial parts of an efficient sensor orchestration; 6. On the basis of characteristic scenarios to discuss sensing strategies for the identification of hazardous maritime activities including long track histories with regard to time and distance. 7. To work on measures of effectiveness and criteria for success for sensor resource management. 8. To recommend the basic concept for a common decision aid for task driven sensor resource management for better maritime situational awareness.

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