While the military coalition led by the United States and the United Kingdom may be taking its lumps in Iraq, the two countries on Monday announced the selection of a team of 25 high-profile vendors and universities to explore new capabilities for wireless technology.
The newly formed International Technology Alliance (ITA) in Network and Information Sciences will be led by IBM and given a bankroll of up to $135.8 million over 10 years to develop secure and manageable long- and short-range battlefield communications.
But the areas of exploration will focus on communications systems developed primarily in the private sector such as wireless networks, RFID, sensor management, and network security.
Many of these related technologies have grown up in the ad hoc environment of the commercial world, but the United States Army Research Laboratory and United Kingdom Ministry of Defense have urgent needs, particularly in military coalitions that team armies with different communications systems.
The consortium includes U.S. companies such as IBM, Boeing, Honeywell, and Applied Research Associates, along with U.K. firms such as LogicaCMG, Roke Manor Research, and Systems Engineering and Assessment.
It will also include U.S. universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Columbia University , and the University of California , Los Angeles . Among the U.K. universities in the ITA will be the University of Cambridge , the University of Aberdeen , and the University of York .
Both the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.K. Defense Science and Technology Laboratory will also participate in the ITA's research.
Breaking New Ground
“This is fundamental, groundbreaking research in networking that brings together people from fields as diverse as biology, psychology, and computer science,” said Dinesh Verma, ITA's program manager, and an IBM employee .
“This research we are doing is supported at the very highest levels of government and industry in both the U.S. and U.K. , but by contract all of our research will be in the public domain,” Mr. Verma added.
Despite the fact that wireless networks have been around for decades, many of the protocols have emerged in separate proprietary environments so there is limited communications between systems developed in the U.S. and those developed in the U.K.
“Even your simple wireless home network is difficult to manage,” said Mr. Verma. “Personally, I have been designated the manager of the home networks of my friends, so one of our main goals is to develop self-management of wireless networks.”
The researchers plan to model the management of wireless networks on biological systems, using complex algorithms copied from molecular self-organization.
The ITA plans to use biological models such as the spread of viruses to disseminate information in wireless networks.
“We believe the network should be intelligent enough to hold latent information that becomes active under certain network circumstances, so even when you are not connected, delivery of information can be guaranteed,” Mr. Verma said.