Bi-Directional Global Logistics - Command, control and status
This NSTIx Op-Tech Co-Creation Centre (OCCS) challenge seeks to address the remote enablement/disablement and status tracking, of assets either during transportation or in remote locations through a secure and discrete system.
This Challenge is seeking to collaboratively develop a concept demonstrator of a global command control system over a 12-week period. An expected start date for this 12-week activity is 13th November 2023. Funding is up to a maximum of ~£60k per funded proposal. Additional funding may be made available for collaborative proposals. A successful demonstration will likely lead to a funded follow-on project.
Background & Challenge
The National Security Technology and Innovation Exchange (NSTIx) is a government-led science, technology and innovation partnership that enables coherent and agile delivery of innovative national security outcomes through a co-ordinated and systematic approach to research and capability development.
NSTIx has established a government-led network of themed Co-Creation Spaces (CCS). The CCS’ combine the respective power of specialist public and private sector partners in research, capability development and end user requirements. This supports the development of effective, user-driven technology at pace in areas that are critical to national security. For more information, please see the ‘NSTIx Leaflet’ in digital form (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nstix-information- leaflet).
While commercial cellular and traditional satellite systems satisfy many requirements for tracking and controlling assets, they may not be reliable in more challenging circumstances.
NSTIx Op-Tech Co-Creation Centre (OCCS) seek to diversify this portfolio in order to continue to provide a range of technically viable solutions and in keeping with changes in the global environment. We seek to utilise expertise in industry and academia to increase diversity and modernise systems in a cost-effective manner.
This Challenge is seeking to collaboratively develop a concept demonstrator of a global command control system that meets the example use cases below.
Example Use Case #1: Supporting international law enforcement by providing loaned UK equipment to disrupt illegal narcotics.
HMG are supporting a third country’s counter narcotics activity by supplying vessel detection equipment to accredited personnel of the third country. This technology sharing involves careful control of changeable risk on a number of fronts: export control, technology transfer, geopolitics, etc.
As part of a package of risk mitigation measures HMG seeks a technical solution to control the use of this equipment from its moment of dispatch from the UK through to it’s safe return. After receipt is confirmed by the intended recipients through diplomatic channels, HMG activate the loaned vessel detection equipment and third country personnel commission it. On completion of the task the equipment will be decommissioned by field personnel. Before return shipping, the system will be remotely disabled.
It would be beneficial to monitor the equipment during international shipping using data feeds to alert operators where contact is lost for a period of time, device alarms are triggered (e.g. tamper detection, unexpected temperature fluctuation, battery level).
In extremis, HMG would retain the ability for technical disablement of the equipment while in use, for example if it had been compromised or placed in the hands of bad actors. This requires a reliable, discreet and secure delivery of an enable/disable command signal. The disablement mechanism is likely to be equipment specific and outside the scope of this challenge. For concept demonstration purposes a simple output/data signal will suffice; a production system may well require more sophisticated arming logic.
Example Use Case #2: MoD tracking of subjects of interest, vehicles and electronic equipment.
The MoD has a need to electronically surveil subjects of interest, associated vehicles and electronic equipment in the UK and abroad. The MoD seek to minimise collateral intrusion to the minimum that is necessary, proportionate and legally permissible. It seeks the capability to enable/disable electronic surveillance equipment at will in a reliable and discrete manner.
Due to the variety of environments in which equipment may be installed solutions should operate where there is limited infrastructure (rural), or otherwise difficult RF environments (urban, shielded) where traditional (e.g. cellular) communications are unsuitable.
Example Use Case #3: International lifecycle tracking of components for use in complex systems.
The industrial, technological and medical sectors may have a need to track the manufacture, shipping, integration and use of components used in complex systems, for example, medical diagnostic scanners. Each component of the complex system might be produced in a different location, and then be shipped to a single destination for assembly. The provenance of the supply chain for each component must be tracked. Components may have a limited shelf-life prior to assembly and may also have a defined number of hours/day/months/years of operational use before they must be decommissioned.
A solution to track the components through their lifecycle (manufacture, commissioning, operation and decommissioning) is needed. The location and status of the component is required throughout the lifecycle, with the option to remotely enable and disable the component if needed. Components might be physically located in areas where communication is difficult (for example, containers during shipping, or RF controlled medical environments).