Feeds

'Google Earth for the Iraq insurgency' gets $115m

Could have bought ordinary Google Earth for that

A new approach to endpoint data protection

Pentagon boffinry chiefs have decided to spend more than a hundred million dollars on a new military database/map system which will let troops in the field collect, share and organise intelligence more effectively.

The system in question is named TIGR, for Tactical Ground Reporting, and it has been described as "Google Maps for the Iraq counterinsurgency". It simply offers an easy way to link information to locations and times.

Mostly at the moment, if Western forces go out on patrol in a hostile area, they have very little idea what happened to those before them. Reports, pictures and so on filed by their predecessors will be accessible to intelligence officers at battalion HQ and up, but even these staff desk-jockeys will struggle to find information related to a particular location.

The idea now is that a noncommissioned or junior officer about to take out a patrol - or go anywhere or do anything - would put his proposed route into TIGR. All previous events of interest which had occurred within, say, 300m either side of the route would pop up: ambushes, roadside bombings, school visits, talks with community figures. Many of these icons would link through, not just to written reports but to pictures or other information collected by previous troops working in the area - just like Google Earth.

TIGR has already been to war. It was in the hands of some US troops as long ago as 2007, and as of last year there were 1500 small-unit leaders using it. The system has received rave reviews from returning troops.

Some have speculated that systems of this sought could force Western armies to become more agile and devolve decision-making down to lower levels and smaller units. Others suggest the exact opposite, that high commanders looking at TIGR - in effect, over the shoulder of those beneath them - will become more tempted to interfere at low levels (this is the dreaded "long screwdriver" effect).

No matter the ultimate result, TIGR seems to be staying popular. Ascend Intelligence, the company behind much of TIGR, has just received a contract award of $14m, with options that will take the deal to $115m if exercised.

To be fair to Ascend, there's a bit more to a system like TIGR than Google Earth. TIGR has to work with much less bandwidth and frequent network outages, requiring the use of many synchronised copies of the database spread across the battlefield net. It will at some point need to tie into various specialised hardware, for instance the Land Warrior wearable combat smartphone or something similar. Security needs to be top-line. With the new focus on Afghanistan, a lot of new background information will need to be put in and new networks set up.

Even so, $115m seems like a lot for this sort of capability. Perhaps the US Army just needs to spend a lot of cash before it can really trust something.

There's an interesting article on TIGR from MIT Tech Review last year here (in pdf). ®

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

More from The Register

next story
PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Fiendishly complex password app extension ships for iOS 8
Just slip it in, won't hurt a bit, 1Password makers urge devs
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?