NITECH: NATO Innovation and Technology – Issue 5, June 2021

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NATO Innovation and Technology

NATO Innovation and Technology Optimizing Defence with Data


Ensuring Access to Critical Data

as a strategic resource

Supporting NATO and the Nations


| JUNE 2021

Developing Careers in Data Science

ISSUE 5 | JUNE 2021


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NITECH NATO Innovation and Technology

ISSUE 5 | JUNE 2021

Editors Adelina Campos de Carvalho, Simon Michell Project Manager Andrew Howard Editorial Director Barry Davies Art Direction Dorena Timm, J-P Stanway Layout Andre van Herk, Andrea Grammling, Michael Williams, Ross Ellis

Contributing Photographers Marcos Fernandez Marin, Conrad Dijkstra, Michael Linennen Cover Photo by Cpl Timothy J. Lutz, US Marine Corps Printed by Pensord Press Limited Images: unless otherwise stated, all images have been sourced from Getty Images

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© 2021. The views and opinions, expressed by independent (non-NATO) authors, contributors and commentators in this publication, are provided in their personal capacities and are their sole responsibility. Publication thereof, does not imply that they represent the views or opinions of the NCI Agency, NATO or Global Media Partners (GMP) and must neither be regarded as constituting advice on any matter whatsoever, nor be interpreted as such. References in this publication to any company or organization, as well as their products and services, do not constitute or imply any direct or indirect endorsement, recommendation or preference by the NCI Agency, NATO or GMP. Furthermore, the reproduction of advertisements in this publication does not in any way imply endorsement by the NCI Agency, NATO or GMP of products or services referred to therein.



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CONTENTS Forewords and introduction Optimizing defence with data

Ensuring access to critical data

Supporting NATO and the Nations

Developing careers in data science Glossary



Kevin J. Scheid ..................................................................................12 NCI Agency General Manager

Admiral Joachim Rühle ..................................................................16 Chief of Staff – Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe

Data, data, data .................................................................................22 Adelina Campos de Carvalho and Simon Michell, Editors, NITECH – NATO Innovation and Technology

The promise and challenge of data analytics for the Alliance .....26 Deployable CIS saves lives .................................................................32 Improving NATO policies with AI .....................................................38 Enhancing data processing for NATO air and space power .........42

P. 32

View from the Nations – France .......................................................46 Collecting and disseminating intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data .............................................52 Drawing down the ICT carbon footprint of the NCI Agency and NATO ...........................................................55 AI in ASW – anti-submarine warfare ...............................................60 Developing autonomous anti-submarine warfare systems .........64 Using oceanographic datasets to improve decision-making .......68 The Data Challenge ............................................................................70

P. 46

NATO's Digital Workplace ...................................................................74 Supporting NATO's mission in Afghanistan ....................................78 Sharing biometric data .......................................................................81 Steadfast Defender ..............................................................................86 Ethical deployment of AI ...................................................................89 5G technologies for military applications .......................................94 Utilizing AI and information sharing to protect against cyber intrusions ....................................................100

P. 94

Meet Giavid Valiyev, data scientist at the NCI Agency ................102 Women in AI ......................................................................................105 What do data scientists want from work? .....................................108 5 things Big Data can help with .......................................................111

Data science glossary .......................................................................114

P. 102





NCI Agency General Manager

Kevin J. Scheid NCI Agency: Leading NATO’s Digital Transformation I am proud to present the fifth edition of NITECH magazine. Each edition of this magazine is a special opportunity for us to bring together all elements of NATO to talk about innovation and technology. We are pleased to have again in this issue the participation of leaders from across NATO, and from NATO Allies working on cutting-edge technology. NITECH magazine, for us, is about creating connections: across the NATO family and with our external partners.



NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, NCI Agency Chief of Staff Major General Göksel Sevindik and NCI Agency General Manager Kevin J. Scheid attend the official opening of the NCI Academy on 26 May this year (PHOTO: NCI AGENCY)

From NATO Agencies, the Nations, Commands, to industry, not-for-profits and universities, NATO’s strength depends on these connections. Our ultimate aim with this magazine is to build trust in the organization, and understanding across the Alliance. Trust comes from transparency and delivering on our promises. So, with this magazine, we aim to lift the veil on a part of NATO that may not often be seen or understood. We talk about the networks Allies use to talk to each other during operations and exercises. We explain how we work with national industries to harness their innovations for the good of the Alliance. Whether we are in Afghanistan or Kosovo, in a bunker in Mons, Belgium, or sunny Oeiras, Portugal, we of the NCI Agency are all part of the NATO family. And we take our role seriously. We know that technology plays a key role in facilitating consultation between Allies – it’s the lifeblood of NATO. The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the importance of technology in accomplishing NATO’s mission. As one small example, there was an unprecedented jump in the use of video teleconferencing across NATO during COVID-19 – usage jumped more than six-fold at some classification levels, and more than 20-fold at the unclassified level.


You must be able to trust that your technology will work when you need it – that it will be there for you when you have to make that important call, or examine that data to make a decision. NITECH magazine is a great opportunity for us to showcase what we have

accomplished, what remains to be done, and discuss the technology that NATO needs to maintain its edge. This edition of NITECH magazine focuses on using data as a strategic resource – an important topic in this increasingly digital age. Allied leaders use data for situational awareness and decision-making, and the NCI Agency is at the heart of NATO’s data. It is stored by our data centres, sent on our networks, used on our applications and protected by our NATO Cyber Security Centre. In just one day, the NATO Cyber Security Centre monitors 20 terabytes of internet traffic, analysing around 56 million web transactions to protect more than 18,000 users. We will continue to work closely with all of you, across NATO, to ensure the Alliance has the right data at the right time to make the right decisions. Making the right choices ensures that nearly one billion citizens across the Alliance can put their trust in NATO to keep them safe. This is my last NITECH magazine as General Manager of the NCI Agency. I am honoured to have served NATO at a very exciting time, as the Agency has helped to lead NATO’s digital transformation. Together, NATO and industry have achieved many great things, and this collaboration is essential to the success of the Agency in the future. Maintaining the NCI Agency’s engagement with industry will be a central message to my successor during my transition. Thank you to the dedicated professionals of the NCI Agency, who work tirelessly to deliver the capabilities and services needed to keep the Alliance strong. I have been honoured to be part of NATO’s digital endeavour.

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Joachim Rühle Chief of Staff – Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe

NATO and the Information Age At the beginning of the digital era, information was composed of megabytes; now it is measured in terabytes and, in the future, it will be petabytes. An average satellite will soon generate more than 20 terabytes a day, and the Earth-observation satellite count is still growing. The amount of data that can be collected on any average day may already be well above most countries’ processing capacity and, in case of crisis, while understanding to decide is critical, no country may be able to process and exploit in a timely manner the amount of collected information.


Thus, NATO’s challenge relies not only on the capacity to collect information, but rather on the capacity to exploit and disseminate terabytes in a timely manner. In that perspective, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) is committed to develop Allied Command Operations’ (ACO) capacities at the pace of technological progress, surfing on the edge of disruptive technologies, within the constraints of the collective defence organization, but also with all the opportunities brought forward by such an organization. This approach, which is already guiding several collection disciplines’ operational requirements, will not only impact ACO’s equipment, but also its human resources and organization.

Modern commanders’ brains have not changed that much compared to their ancestors, while the amount of data to which they have access has grown massively in recent years, and it is probably just the beginning. The expression “information rich, knowledge poor” has been created to describe this situation, where organizations fail to transform their information into actionable intelligence. Getting out of that trap requires us to develop a holistic approach to the informational domains and to implement a global solution. Small steps taken in solving each problem independently proved to be inefficient with what has to be considered as a change of paradigm. Anticipating Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) evolutions, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), in relation with Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency), developed a federated approach to IMINT exploitation, leveraged by artificial intelligence (AI). The centre of this scheme will consist of a Data Lake into which nations will be encouraged to dump their images, wherever they come from (satellite, drone, aircraft etc). Exploitation nodes, either from nations or from ACO, will connect to this Data Lake to produce IMINT in




NATO’s challenge is not only to ensure sufficient capacity to collect data, such as from this satellite ground station, but also to share information swiftly and effectively (PHOTO: NCI AGENCY)

accordance with collective defence priorities. Production nodes will be created in each Joint Force Command and Single Service Command. They will be fitted with high-performance computers equipped with AI systems to automate many of the basic, repetitive tasks currently performed by human analysts. Freed from the manual data-management tasks that consume a large amount of their time, such as data labelling, analysts will be allowed to focus on mission-related analysis and production. Apart from its efficiency, this cloud approach to NATO’s IMINT production will increase its flexibility and resilience against any kind of attack.


This approach, which may be extended to other collection disciplines, is raising several challenges, one of them being the human being’s place in this construct and its interaction with technologies. The introduction of AI into exploitation will generate new ways of interacting between analysts and technology, and building trust is at the centre of that relationship. Understanding trust limits requires integrating new knowledge in the teams, like data scientists, and developing new education and training programmes.

Ways in which NATO will hire, educate and train its workforce will require a new approach. Moreover, a new symbiosis will have to be created between engineers developing the technologies and users. Many changes have occurred in the past decades – from digitalization, satellite proliferation to cloud computing, AI etc – and the pace of change is still increasing. Behind buzzwords such as AI, Big Data or cloud, which are shaping today’s speech, there are still men and women that will have to find their place in this new environment and to catch up with this pace. In the Intelligence domain, some people who started their career doing silver photography interpretation are now just about to run AI systems on digitized pictures. NATO’s future will be a complex and balanced relationship between technology, analysts and engineers, and this relation needs to be based on confidence. As such, the NCI Agency’s knowledge in those domains will be instrumental in accompanying ACO’s evolution towards this endlessly evolving environment.

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DATA, DATA, DATA Adelina Campos de Carvalho, Simon Michell, Editors, NITECH

Adelina So, we are still not back in the office, and working from home seems normal now. How have you coped?

Simon Better than expected.

Simon I have been forced to really up my IT skills. I am in the process of moving all my data to the cloud and I am now pretty good at online meetings – Teams, Skype, Webex….. I am using all of them.

Adelina I can imagine! It’s the same on our side, with the added complexity of holding virtual meetings at different classification levels... What has been your biggest challenge with remote working?

Simon Well, as an early 60s Baby Boomer, I am far from being a digital native, and some things are not at all intuitive to me. Sometimes, I really have to do a lot of Googling to find out how to use new apps. People 30 years younger seem to instinctively know how to get started on new platforms and apps. I can share all of my data between my laptop, phone and tablet using the cloud. The phone is easier to use than my laptop for most things, but not everything – emails for one, and of course writing and editing. Plus moving data around and sharing it externally with the team is still sometimes a bit of a mystery. There are annoying silos between the different types of data, text, image files, design documents, PDFs...



This is the biggest challenge that everyone is facing, and NATO in particular. It’s why we have focused on data as a strategic resource in this issue. That’s what the NCI Agency is all about. Data has become a precious commodity – you need to be able to share it, quickly. The NCI Agency is vital in making this happen.

So how is the NCI Agency getting on with this effort?




We are getting there. Artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to be the key that unlocks the door to many data challenges. The ‘AI in ASW – anti-submarine warfare’ article by Admiral Tas of Allied Command Transformation highlights this transition. And, of course, AI is also breaking ground in cyber security too. There are other examples, such as the ‘Sharing Biometric Data’ article by the NCI Agency’s Cristian Coman, that also point the way forward. The explanation of how the NCI Agency helps people with their data on operations in Afghanistan shows the growing importance that this type of function will have in the future. Data teams need to be in the thick of it to make more of a difference. That’s why the NCI Agency deploys on operations regularly. I think we will see more of that in the future.

Adelina What stands out for you in this issue?

Simon The piece by Florence Parly, France’s Defence Minister, on the new NATO Space Centre of Excellence is really good. I also think our coverage of 5G is really fascinating. And what is really going to be a massive challenge going forward is drawing down the carbon footprint that emanates from using, storing and gathering data.

Simon What are the key take-aways for data as a strategic resource for you?

Adelina I think the articles on data scientists and AI practitioners really get to the main challenge – the lack of available talent and the urgent need to recruit more diverse data science teams. We also need to get ‘data-savvy’ quickly.

Simon Definitely. That’s actually why we’ve included a glossary at the end of the magazine. We all know that we’re increasingly reliant on data, but few of us are actually familiar with the terminology and possible applications of data science. Hopefully, our readers will find out more about this fascinating topic with this latest edition.

Simon 23


Dr Detlef Nauck Head of AI and data science research at BT’s Applied Research Division

How will artificial intelligence (AI) affect organisations such as NATO? There’s no doubt that NATO, which needs to collaborate with Alliance countries, could benefit from the AI explosion. It’s time to stop thinking of AI as something conceptual that’ll happen ‘one day’. It’s already here, thriving in businesses around the globe – and it’s here to stay. AI has reached the point that, in limited contexts, it can hold a natural conversation over the phone and beat humans in games of skill – it’s ready to play a big role in helping organisations across all industries. AI is most commonly used in areas such as automation. For example, the automated models behind marketing and workforce management systems, automated order and billing processes, automated production lines, and text-processing chatbots. Then there are less well-known forms of automation that involve human-inthe-loop models, such as systems that scan legal documents to identify key information for experts to assess, or image-recognition systems that support medical professionals by highlighting potential cancer in cell

samples. The human-and-machine model is a successful one, supporting people to do their jobs better by speeding up the process and cutting levels of human error.

this is a prime example of ‘garbage in, garbage out’, it’s been standard practice to only check or police data where regulations apply or where accuracy is essential, such as in billing.

As you can see from this year’s NITEC event, AI is already proving to be a valuable tool in NATO’s activities – from the Consultation, Command and Control Board using AI to improve policies, to the NATO Cyber Security Centre detecting and countering cyber intrusions on NATO networks, thanks to the technology.

Organisations such as NATO need to consider the quality and availability of data from the moment they come into contact with it. You need to be able to collect, store, curate, quality-test, aggregate and refine data before pulling it into a software environment where it can power machine learning and apply AI techniques successfully. Plus, to develop a robust AI model that doesn’t make mistakes, you need to test it with data that hasn’t been used during the creation process, and then continue to test it once it’s operational. This is a challenge for businesses that are used to only collecting data to run operational systems, rather than to run analytics or AI.

How will 5G connectivity help organisations such as NATO? 5G will connect people, things, machines, data, applications, transport systems and cities faster and more reliably than ever before. There’s potential to carry and process huge amounts of data with next to no delay, and connecting a huge number of devices. All of this will make AI easier to use in more ways. We’re already leading the way in 5G in the UK, building on our unmatched 4G capabilities. And far from being replaced, 4G will continue to support 5G and provide the backbone of connectivity in the UK.

How can organisations successfully unlock the potential of AI? The success of AI depends on the quality and availability of data, and this needs to be embedded into an organisation’s culture. Historically, data has been treated as a natural output from operations, and its quality hasn’t been questioned or looked after. This causes problems when businesses apply a machine-learning model, because the model will draw on this unchecked data and replicate any flaws in the information. Although

How can NATO create protective guidance around AI? Organisations need to see through the hype of AI to spot the pitfalls – and take steps to protect against them. NATO must pursue AI carefully, making ethical frameworks and governance a core part of AI’s development to avoid being exposed if regulations are introduced later. And you can see this is already in place as part of the NATO 2030 initiative. Fundamentally, businesses must understand that AI will get decisions wrong. And retaining a human element is still crucial in protecting organisations. Take cybersecurity, for example. AI is so embedded in dealing with the tens of thousands of increasingly sophisticated malware attacks that occur daily, that if we had to go back to purely human-based defence, we’d need the majority of the UK working population to deal


with the volume of attacks. But without an element of human checking and control, serious risks may arise, such as a system that acts on data alone, without understanding the context. Finding the right human-AI balance is essential.

To what extent does the future AI-enabled 5G world depend on collaboration? It may be that 5G will unlock possibilities with AI that we’ve yet to

even think of. What we know today is that technology in a 5G world will create sophisticated and flexible services that are reliable and have ultra-low latency. And, based on this, we’ll be able to create more bespoke services and capabilities.

now. Others will emerge further down the line, so we’ve prioritised flexibility to ensure we’re ready to support whatever direction 5G takes with a network and architecture that’s ready for the future.

It’s only through collaboration and co-innovation that our 5G world will reach its potential. 5G innovation and AI will bring many changes to our society and economy, only some of which we’re able to predict



ANALYTICS FOR THE ALLIANCE David van Weel, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, explains why adherence to ethical norms and values is a critical factor as the Alliance begins to harness the latent power of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques



As the geopolitical security landscape becomes increasingly multifaceted and complex, the imperative for NATO to address security challenges with greater velocity, effectiveness and impact will become even more urgent. To help, data analytics and machine learning, powered by the platform of artificial intelligence (AI), are increasingly being seen as a crucial advantage. These challenges have been recognised by the Alliance, including in the work being carried out on the NATO 2030 process. At the 2021 Brussels Summit, NATO Leaders agreed to launch a civil-military Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) and to establish a NATO Innovation Fund. There is also recognition that to more rapidly and effectively identify, prevent and respond to the security challenges confronting the Alliance, its institutional architecture must become more data-driven.



“AI/ML-enabled capabilities are emerging at an increased rate” Many Allies have already seized the bull by the horns when it comes to exploiting data, and most are developing Data or AI Strategies. Specific organizational structures and governance approaches are beginning to emerge, like that of the Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center in the United States, or Canada’s Chief Data Officer.

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS Leveraging the power of AI will require maximum effort in mining, collating and synthesizing the data generated not only by NATO and its Allies and partners, but also industry, the research community and even citizens. In doing so, ethical considerations regarding data use will need to be upheld, including where these efforts may impinge upon the rights of our citizens. Data exploitation and AI/machine learning (ML) go hand in hand. AI needs data to be effective: the more, the better. This is recognised at NATO, and our ongoing development of an AI Strategy, to be released later this year, is closely linked to our development of a Data Exploitation Framework Policy. To fuel this AI-inspired demand, the Alliance will need to progress across three main fronts: First, ensuring that policies, processes and procedures for data exploitation are fit for purpose, clear and capable of providing effective guidance for the development and implementation of these capabilities;


Second, putting in place the right technologies, including communications and information systems infrastructure, as well as advanced data science tools and software, for a next generation of data scientists;

AI/ML-enabled capabilities are emerging at an increased rate. Chained AI-enabled systems may generate a clear operational picture and provide decision-making recommendations; the US Army’s Prometheus AI system, for example, can transform battlefield imagery into targeting data through processing and threat-detection. Deep-fake technology is also growing in sophistication.

Finally, addressing the human factor: creating a cadre of data scientists; improving our data literacy, and broadening access to data-science education and training.

Notwithstanding these serious initiatives, the perception of AI/ML in defence remains focused upon bleak scenarios. This is where adherence to our ethical norms and values is critical and is why we must ensure that we

set clear principles for military use. Although such concepts are maturing in the academic space, the international community – particularly in the defence space – has work to be done in fleshing out ideas, testing them against use cases and incorporating ethical use by design in the new technologies. The NATO AI Strategy will tackle some of the challenges of ethics and governance, identifying ways to operate AI systems responsibly and setting guidelines for their governance and accountability. To coordinate a coherent approach to the novel challenges posed by data and AI, we must leverage


AI systems are becoming increasingly capable of producing valuable operational information to assist with decision-making (PHOTO NCI AGENCY)

the existing apparatus around the Alliance. But NATO must be nimble, engaging with our innovative private sector and academic communities to foster nascent technologies and exploit their applications. These initiatives, under the aegis of NATO’s Emerging and Disruptive Technology Strategy, lay out a clear plan to step up NATO’s efforts by putting in place the wiring to link up these activities, facilitate improved coordination and realise the ambition set for us by Allies to make the Alliance fit for the security environment of 2030 and beyond.



Data is the oil of the 21st century, but... 20 years in, we’re seeing an emerging data and physical world nexus

Phil Quade Chief Information Security Officer, Fortinet

How has NATO’s growing reliance on data changed the security landscape? Some 21 years into the 21st century, we’re seeing an emerging data and physical world nexus. The foremost principle that we collectively defend in NATO is, certainly, democracy. And, in defending it, NATO operational strategies have often been driven both by geography and the security of carbon-based assets – oil. Securing our nations was primarily seen as protecting physical things – borders, transportation hubs, dams, bridges, factories, power plants – and the fuel that powers them. But that seemingly static defensive truism has evolved. One hundred years ago, we understood that there was no regional security without the protection of oil fields. Fifty years ago, we understood that there was no national security without safeguards

for nuclear weapons. Now, we understand that critical infrastructures and critical manufacturing are important virtual things – to our economies, governments, and personal well-being – that must be protected. In our hyper-connected world, there is no global security without protecting the data that underpins these infrastructure assets with agile, in-time techniques.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices, artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G, cy-phy will fundamentally change how we interact with our surroundings. The opportunities for intelligence and attack operations are profound, potentially providing exquisite insight, context, denial and manipulation opportunities.

Yes, data is the oil of the 21st century; those who have it, those who secure it, those who refine it, will flourish. But 20 years into that century, we’re approaching a geography-energydata nexus, and it’s one that merits some refinement of our understanding of data’s importance. We need to ensure that both our technology and workforce are up to the challenge.

What do those changes mean for NATO defenders?

Is data changing, and if so, what does it mean to NATO operations? Yes, as stunning technologies increasingly instrument our vehicles, homes, businesses, towns, and even our bodies, it’s clear we’ve entered a new era that I call “The Age of Cy-Phy” – the convergence of cyberspace with a plethora of devices and data in our physical spaces. New technologies, designed to operate in (and intimately know) our physical environment, are becoming deeply intertwined with more traditional cyber systems and data. Enabled by several of the most talked-about technologies, including

Like the proverbial dual-edged sword, this new type of data will cut both ways: there is both great opportunity and great responsibility. Data from the physical environment includes things like temperature, speed, vector, altitude, proximity, pressure, movement, chemical and biological traits... These are obviously juicy tidbits of data that both intelligence operators and attackers greatly value, and when this data from the physical environment is put in the context of data computed in the cyber domain (say, the cloud or via fast local processing), the insights become supercharged. But the other edge of the ‘sword’ deserves equal attention: If that data is manipulated, disrupted, or disclosed, people can be injured (or die), military operations can be undercut and/or the best-laid strategic plans can be outmanoeuvred. The integrity of that data is of utmost importance because corrupted data from the physical environment can be much more serious than, say, damage to a PowerPoint presentation: data in


the physical domain that has been changed could cause vehicles to crash, illnesses to go undetected and critical infrastructures to fail catastrophically. Similarly, the privacy and confidentiality of such data is very important, since its disclosure could both disclose movement of troops and equipment or leak private data about one’s actions when living a normal life that could potentially be exploited. When there is confidence in such systems, innovation and efficiencies can flourish. Consider the injured or sick soldier use-case, where integrated cy-phy cybersecurity could one day be depended upon to alert the nearest medical provider of a sudden abnormality with life-saving speed and accuracy; provide waiting medical technicians with complete stats, comprehensive medical history, and relevant information they need to formulate a precise response; initiate a medical response instantly via medical devices and implants; and even summon an autonomous vehicle to take her/him to a place for more advanced care. To enable that to happen, cybersecurity strategy and architecture must be built around certain premises familiar to NATO: collective cyber defense (integrating defensive capabilities to work as a team, to defend at the time and place of strength), speed (a rough analogy to ‘manoeuvre warfare’, where those collective capabilities operate at a pace and scope that overwhelms the adversary) and agility (the ability to see, anticipate and adapt to changing conditions).

Can the private sector supply GOTS (Government off-theshelf) capabilities? Yes, the good news is that private sector capabilities are up to the challenge. As recently as 15 years ago, only some US Department of

Defense GOTS systems could detect and mitigate, at scale and in cyberrelevant time, informed by near-realtime threat intelligence. Today, a handful of leading-edge cybersecurity companies, such as Fortinet, have such an ability. Rather than designing more GOTS, our governments can invest its R&D dollars elsewhere and instead procure private-sector systems and, subsequently, ride the private sector’s innovations in the cybersecurity arena.

workforce problem that needs a solution. And a governmentprivate-sector partnership in solving it has never been more urgent. There’s also a growing social-economic gap. Left unsolved, these will hold us back. NATO can play a big role by recruiting and training diverse, non-degreed personnel to fill key cyber roles – an approach that our nations’ military services have historically embraced.

The network Edge, Core, and Cloud can securely work together to support the NATO mission, using COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) technologies such as NAC and Zero Trust to control edge access, robust and agile segmentation and secure hybrid cloud architecture for securitydriven networking, and SIEM, EDR and threat intelligence for security operations. When these COTS technologies are integrated over a cybersecurity fabric, it both improves cybersecurity and reduces overhead and complexity.

Historically, organizations that leverage both advanced technology and an agile workforce are behind the world’s important achievements. Along the way, democracy and capitalism emerged; intertwined beliefs that both depend on a thriving middle class and a common belief in the principles of hard work, opportunity, individualism and the potential for upward mobility; the things we align behind as a strong NATO.

So, the comparison of data’s importance to that of oil is still apt. But, ironically, that data increasingly represents physical things such as energy generation, oil flow, and the movement of individuals. Imagine an adversary remotely tracking the amount of fuel supply available, or even the levels of physical activity, heart rate, oxygen levels, etc of embattled troops, and then pouncing at a time of weakness. So, looking forward, data hasn’t replaced the importance of the physical domain (as represented by oil fields in the 20th century) – it’s about to magnify the importance of things in the physical domain.

The business and defence communities have an opportunity – and need – to create and employ a large and diverse new workforce, while simultaneously bolstering the integrity and privacy of the domain where our 21st-century economy and governing is most dependent: the cyber domain. A vibrant cybersecurity workforce fuels our companies’ innovation and growth; safeguards government services, and bolsters our critical infrastructures. And, importantly, it re-invents and revitalizes the upward mobility aspect of democracies, serving as a combined economic and social engine.

How can the cybersecurity skills gap be closed? With a cybersecurity skills gap of over four million people, there’s a


NATO relies on DCIS to support rapidly deployable, high-readiness requirements (PHOTO: NCI AGENCY)

DEPLOYABLE CIS SAVES LIVES Major General Frank Schlösser, Commander NATO CIS Group, explains how NATO’s Deployable Communications and Information System (DCIS) connects static Headquarters (HQs) and deployed forces enabling the sharing of critical data digitally to improve decisionmaking and increase interoperability


NATO DCIS provides a Deployable Communications and Information System (DCIS) capability for NATO deployed forces in support of operations, missions and exercises. It ensures that military personnel in the field have voice and data communications and are able to share critical information as quickly and efficiently as



What capabilities does the DCIS system-of-systems offer NATO?

possible with higher headquarters and other components. The DCIS supports command and control (C2) services for NATO-led missions and enables collaboration between static and deployed users operating in support of Major Joint Operations or Small Joint Operations. The DCIS ensures that military personnel in the field have voice communications with the rest of the Alliance and are able to share critical information digitally.

– support large numbers of exercises; – handle simultaneous operation start-ups; and – match VJTF (Very High Readiness Joint Task Forces) activation times for early entry. The DCIS, as a whole, consists of deployable components, wide-area transport and static components; together providing deployable services to, and in support of, deployed users. It provides a full range of communication, information and C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) services in support of the deployed user.


Why does NATO need such a system?

Unbroken, flexible C2 remains the fundamental prerequisite for the full spectrum of Alliance operations, missions and exercises – continuously and at all scales of effort. The aim of DCIS is to provide communication services, core enterprise services and community-of-interest services by allowing collaboration between static and deployed arenas in support of deployed forces. NATO relies on DCIS to support rapidly deployable, high-readiness, scalable, flexible, interoperable and limited selfsustainment requirements.


capabilities and will provide, support and maintain all C2 services required to conduct NATO operations. DCIS capabilities have been organized into a number of capabilities that specify the desired ability of NATO to provide CIS in both static and deployed arenas in support of deployed forces. These capabilities link back to the high-level concepts of the NATO deployed forces as derived from the military requirements.

How does the system leverage commercial best practice and private cloud concepts?



NATO DCIS provides a secure, modular, scalable, deployable and sustainable capability, which will deliver communication services between deployed C2 elements, reach-back connectivity to strategic networks, information services (IS) and integrated informationsharing with IS services across the static and deployed environments that could be deployed within or outside of NATO’s Area of Responsibility. The DCIS must:

What DCIS does, of course, is to extend relevant services from the static into the deployed environment. And this means that in reviewing the extent to which NATO uses commercial best practice we cannot isolate our purview to DCIS alone – we must take some account of the wider enterprise.


One of the key commercial best-practice standards that we employ in NATO CIS is the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework for IT service management. Designed to provide a handrail for organizations that provide services to a business, it is also effective in the NATO context of the service management of the ICT capabilities that enable effective military C2 for all types of operations, missions and exercises. And, it provides an essential ‘common language’ for service management. This is crucial when the force is large, multinational and when the overall aim is to operate seamlessly across the NATO Federation.

Additionally, NATO DCIS is necessary to ensure that commanders’ orders and reports are passed quickly and accurately between the NATO Command Structure (NCS) and the NATO Force Structure (NFS) HQs, and to enable coordinated and synchronized operations to be executed as directed. The political and strategic direction makes the NCS more static-focused, maintaining a smaller deployable capability with reliance on deployability from the NFS, nations, and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) organizations.

Enabled by (among others) ITIL, and key to this seamless operation, is the Federated Mission Networking (FMN) framework – a well-governed structure to provide the processes, plans, templates and enterprise architectures needed to plan, prepare and deploy in support of the Alliance in a dynamic, federated environment. The framework is a permanent ongoing foundation to ensure mission networks are established and managed effectively and efficiently for the purpose of operations, exercises and interoperability verifications. NATO, NATO nations and non-NATO entities retain control of their own capabilities. The FMN affiliates conduct their mission by effective management, enabling information-sharing between communities of interest.

NATO and its Allies rely on the use of DCIS to share information and conduct C2 in a constantly changing, complex environment, with DCIS extending static NATO CIS networks and CIS services to deployed users. DCIS needs to support these functional military

Another area where commercial best practice is observed is cyber security, with, for example, the delivery of controls, security audit and cyber hygiene. In particular, the SANS Critical Security Controls for Effective Cyber Defense offer guidelines for inventory and delivery



controls, continuous vulnerability assessments, data recovery capabilities, system hardening, and data protection, as well as incident response and management. The combination of the commercial best practices with current doctrine allows NATO to maintain awareness of the latest threats and ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability for its network.

the C2D2 DCIS environment will need to be established during the procurement process.

As far as ‘private cloud’ is concerned, the situation is more complex and it is difficult to explain in a short answer. In the DCIS context, the private cloud model is followed – mainly for security reasons, but also because it provides more flexibility, scalability and control to meet NATO military requirements. The DCIS space is particular as we are constrained to some extent, firstly, by survivability and, secondly, by low-bandwidth and high-latency communications links that could lead to a C2D2 (contested, congested, degraded or disconnected) environment, and where there is a consistent and sustained requirement to continue to function autonomously.

The NATO DCIS Firefly capabilities to be delivered will enable the extension of connectivity and services provided by the NATO General Communication System (NGCS) to the NRF Deployed Joint Force Headquarters (HQ) and their subordinate Component Commands (CCs) HQs in the NATO Area of Responsibility.

Interoperability is vital to ensure the information exchange among nations involved in a mission (PHOTO: NCI AGENCY)

This requirement implies a distributed IT architecture where NATO DCIS Detachments (NDD) are deployed to locally provide the necessary services in a timely, reliable, secure and interoperable manner, so that the Mission Commander’s ability to exercise C2 is preserved. Interoperability is vital to ensure the information exchange among the different nations deployed to a mission. To this end, services provided through the NDD meet FMN specifications, which are derived from official standards and industry best practices.


Nonetheless, the future may enable us to better exploit private cloud technology. Along with the introduction of Firefly (a mobile communications system), we expect to see the introduction of DCIS Cube architecture, which promises to be a deployable software-defined, virtualized and orchestrated DCIS infrastructure that can function under military operational conditions. Whether these prospective benefits are deliverable and suitable for

How will the recent Firefly award support the NATO Response Force’s communications needs?



Firefly is to provide the DCIS infrastructure and technical services for the small NRF HQ. Each deployable point of presence (DPOP) consists of a set of DCIS nodes that will be integrated into the existing DCIS infrastructure and services. Additionally, it introduces automation capabilities for the provision and deployment of Information Services. Firefly consists of the assembly, connection, integration and configuration of COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) components, into bespoke systems that are fit for purpose and used in support of NATO operations and exercises. It is based on Cube Technology Architecture, which is a software-defined, virtualized deployable Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providing multimedia and IT services. The DCIS DPOPs will be able to increase capacity and resilience by clustering multiple DCIS cubes to perform a single DCIS building block’s function. The DCIS Cube architecture is to support the Readiness Action Plan and enable the enhanced NATO Response Force (NRF) and Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) to execute their mission. Although different DCIS Cube hardware and software solutions may exist between NATO and national inventories, each individual implementation is based on this DCIS Cube definition. That implies that national and NATO implementations will be interoperable at the service level, including protocols across interoperability interfaces (through FMN), workload hosting and orchestration.

The NCI Agency awarded the Firefly contract to Thales in December 2020. Find out more through the QR code to the right

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INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE practice in a military environment, this is not so simple.

Upon which parts of NATO’s infrastructure will Thales’s Defence Cloud be deployed?

Marc Darmon Executive VP, Secure Communications and Information Systems, Thales

How did Thales meet NATO’s need to deploy command posts in a few hours, instead of several days? Thales recently won a NATO competition to supply the DCIS Firefly solution that will provide the NATO Response Force (NRF) with eight deployable points of presence (DPOP) for small and medium command posts. The NRF is a joint and combined force designed to provide a rapid answer for collective defence and crisis operations. With Firefly it will see a real change in theatre, since it will be able to achieve mission-readiness in just a few hours, compared to the days, or even weeks, currently required. The solution relies on a key component of Thales’s Defence Cloud solution: the military operations orchestrator. With the orchestrator, users can prepare pre-deployment patterns (also called ‘blueprints’) during cold phases of an operation, so that, during hot phases of action, the orchestrator automatically removes or adds the right components and configurations on the theatre infrastructure to articulate the network, IT and security manoeuvres. It may seem obvious, but in

The Firefly project will deploy Thales’s solution on small and medium NATO command posts, but the solution is designed to serve any high-readiness force and can be scaled to larger formats. The solution will be deployed, on the one side, in NATO’s software factory – to prepare deployments with the orchestrator – and, on the other side, in command posts with ruggedized ‘programmable data centres’ that can be configured either locally or remotely to ensure mission-readiness. On top of these data centres, we will be delivering all the ancillaries: network, tents and cases to simplify logistics and ensure that entry into a new theatre can be achieved much more quickly than it is today.

Is cloud really the right technology for harsh, low-connectivity military operations? That’s a good question. Joint forces might understandably feel that a centralized cloud is not for them. After all, a cloud is operated from

obscure data centres that could trigger changes in material they need to be able to rely on 100%. Imagine forces unable to act at a decisive moment because the system they are using needs to do a software upgrade. That’s simply not an option. That’s why we designed the Thales Defence Cloud by adapting cloud technology to the uniqueness of the military environment. We did this by selecting the civil cloud components that bring undisputed and real benefits: a standard environment to enable faster applications upgrades, data sharing, simple tools and high availability. However, we know that civil cloud technology is not fit for purpose in operational theatres. Infrastructure needs to be easily deployable and is not endlessly scalable. Bandwidth is not infinite. The concept of flat network structures is simply not compatible with security regulations that govern processing and the sharing of classified data. And, more than anywhere else, everything must be able to operate in standalone mode. Generally speaking, we leveraged our dual experience, not only as an industry, but also as a service player: our teams are involved in several theatres in support of NATO and other international organizations.


So, we developed additional components and complied with specific military standards to reverse the cloud ‘adaptable infrastructure’ paradigm and enable applications to make the most of existing powerful, but limited, infrastructure. The resulting ruggedized solution is secure and accreditable, as well as easy for soldiers to operate. After all, their job is to prepare and execute missions, not to be CIS specialists.

Major cloud actors provide powerful solutions, but lack interoperability. However, military operations require strong cooperation between allies. How do you fill this gap? One word comes to mind – standardization. What’s not easy, though, is finding the right combination of standards that will enable smooth interoperability and deliver the associated benefits, rather than creating an interoperability headache. Thankfully, NATO plays a strong thought-leadership role as we strive to attain this standardization goal. As a major industry player we are active not only in defining standards, but also in interacting with providers, so that their products are truly military-grade solutions.

In the case of the deployable defence cloud, NATO selected three major standards that are likely to set the precedent for future infrastructure: TOSCA for network and applications deployment orchestration; FMN (Federated Mission Networking) to ensure coalition interoperability, and DCIS Cube architecture to ensure security and scalability.

Is now the right time for NATO forces to move to the cloud? Absolutely. The time is right to deploy a defence-grade cloud infrastructure not only in theatre, but also in headquarters. Joint forces need to engage in their digital transformation now to maintain their information supremacy and cooperate with allies. Based on our experience supporting military forces and organisations in their digital transformation, we have identified four triggers: – Infrastructure obsolescence, as in the case of the NATO Firefly project; – Network bandwidth increase in theatre, with additional commercial satellite connectivity and tactical 4/5G cells. Although these connectivity resources must be cyber-protected and are definitely not suitable in disputed and jammed environments, they do bring additional key resources

in cold phases for maintenance and automatization – Big Data: the explosion of data from multiple sources requires a high level of automatization to verify, register, normalize, process, deconflict, synthetize and mobilize AI algorithms; – Application readiness: our customers are deploying software factories and agile processes. However, for these incremental upgrades to reach operations in days instead of years, military organizations need a future-proof Defence Cloud infrastructure. Thales is committed to providing its customers and their partners with best-of-breed, military-grade solutions to efficiently leverage ‘data in theatre’ as a strategic resource. With our leading position in the defence space, as well as our expertise in the key technologies that will shape tomorrow’s world (cyber, Internet of Things, Big Data, cloud and artificial intelligence), we are well-equipped to do so.



Simon Michell talks to Dr Marcello Piraino, Principal Engineer at NATO Headquarters’ Consultation, Command and Control (C3) Staff (NHQC3S), to find out how applying artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can help improve the quality of the Alliance’s C3 policy documents


In his capacity as Principal Engineer at NHQC3S, Marcello Piraino is responsible for C3 policy development oversight, on behalf of the C3 Board, and his mission is to ensure that the policy documents and related implementation directives are coherent and fit for purpose. Until recently, the C3 Board had more than 2,000 policy documents addressing the many nuances of the IT domain, ranging from telecommunications issues to software development and lifecycle management. Not surprisingly, there were instances when a policy on one subject would be contradicted or superseded by a policy on another. Among the

numerous reasons for this was that many of those policy documents were developed at different times, by different subject-matter experts, and in response to different issues. Unfortunately, the lack of sufficient coherency control led to a very low level of policy compliance throughout NATO.

and about 10 implementation directives, with more under review, which provide sufficient coverage of our current needs.” Having achieved this feat, they needed to come up with a plan to ensure this task could be repeated in the future, as more policy documents and implementation directives were developed, or existing ones were amended.

ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGE It was only by implementing a rigorous programme to reduce and align these policies that the C3 Board began to get on top of this challenge. “I was put in charge of a project to rationalize them,” explains Dr Piraino. “This effort took several iterations, but eventually we managed to reduce the 2,000 documents to a few hundred, then a few dozen, and now we have one Alliance C3 Policy document, approved by the North Atlantic Council, containing 12 policy annexes

NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING Dr Piraino discussed this requirement with the NCI Agency’s Head of Data Science and Innovation, Dr Michael Street, who suggested that a specialism within AI known as NLP (natural language processing), which leans heavily on machine learning techniques, might be able to help the C3 Board achieve their aim. Luckily, Dr Piraino already had a good knowledge of AI techniques, having completed an AI project as part of his PhD. That

PREPARING THE DOCUMENTS Much work has to be done to prepare the documents before any algorithms can be fed through them. “In order to make any document readable by artificial intelligence tools, we had to do a lot of work ‘normalizing’ them. We had to take all the statements and put them into a very simple format – subject, verb, complement. We had to strip out the most common words, like ’NATO’ or ’C3’, and articles, prepositions and such like, to ensure the tool would not generate skewed results.”

’constructive’ ambiguities, introduced with the aim of facilitating political agreement. As soon as Piraino’s team started putting documents through the AI tools, they got promising results. An important task they wanted to achieve was to use the NLP, particularly its ‘similarities’ function, to track the use of key concepts elaborated in the Alliance C3 Strategy – IT governance, IT architecture, interoperability and IT capabilities. In doing so, they hoped to be able to improve the relationship between the Alliance’s C3 Strategy and its supporting policy documents, and between different policies themselves. This supports the work of developing lower-level implementation directives. “The NLP approach led to the exact determination of these relationships, by using the cosine similarity function to calculate how close two policies were in accordance with the concept we were exploring. It also enabled deeper analysis.”

NEW CONNECTIONS The NLP algorithm process works by assigning a numerical value to each word in relation to a certain ’concept’. The combination of values attributed to words in a sentence determines a vector. Thus, comparing two sentences’ vectors shows how similar they are. In practice, the smaller the angle between the two vectors, the more likely it is that the content of the two sentences is relatable. This is known as cosine similarity. A key challenge relates to NATO’s tendency to develop a specialist language of its own. That makes it difficult (if not impossible) to use existing ontologies (classifications) to analyse the policy text. In addition, as all decisions in NATO are reached by consensus, the policy language is filled with

For example, they were able to identify a relationship between two policies not previously considered to be connected – Waveform Policy and Software Policy. “We thought that a policy that was focused on ‘waveform’, that is the way in which a radio wave is shaped, should not be very close in terms of content to a policy relating to software development. What we actually found out was nearly the opposite.” What had not been taken into account when developing the two policies prior to the AI experiments was that software is used to produce waveforms. Therefore, the software policy had more commonalities with the waveform policy than they had realized. According to Dr Piraino, this an excellent start, and it proves that

AI tools can help NATO improve the way it develops and evolves policies. “We have been able to demonstrate that the set of documents analysed is very coherent, a validation that we were not able to achieve before. Our policy set is hierarchically organized, with the Alliance C3 Strategy on top, supported by policy documents that, in turn, are underpinned by implementation directives. This set is coherent from top to bottom – meaning that all policy is consistently derived by the strategy and that directives are coherently built on policy, and across, meaning that there are no overlaps or contradictions amongst policy documents.”


facilitated the acceptance of the proposed approach and broader agreement by the nations. So, together they embarked on a project using the C3 Regulatory Framework, which embodies the Alliance C3 Strategy, the Alliance C3 Policy, including the 12 policy documents as annexes, and the 10 implementation directives that the C3 Board had synthetized out of the original 2,000 documents.

ISSUES TO OVERCOME But this is far from the endgame. There are significant issues to overcome. The objective is to achieve a method that would predict whether a new policy statement or principle is already covered by, or contradicts, one of the existing policies. This assessment is normally carried out by human experts that are hard to find and train, even on a limited set of policy documents. Unlike humans, machines do not really understand meaning. They process the single words, but not the overall intent in a sentence. As result, the algorithm cannot distinguish between two statements that express different meaning by using a similar set of words. “For the work we are doing, it is really important that the algorithm can understand the meaning in the context of the policy, as well as the instances of certain phrases or words,” says Dr Piraino. “At the moment, we are unable to represent this meaning with our tools. We are producing specialized ontologies to try and get close to something that resembles meaning, but it is not the same thing.”



Dr Alexander Schellong VP Global Business, Member of the Board – INFODAS

Why are cross domain solutions relevant for data as a strategic resource? Within NATO and among NATO Member States, from the command centre to the tactical edge, large amounts of data are being produced in all domains. In fact, concepts such as Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) rely on data being moved quickly and securely. The problem is that networks are segmented based on classification levels such as NATO’s internal networks. Some may be even completely isolated. Data is stuck in silos, and moving data manually is slow and cumbersome – hence the term ‘sneaker’ network. Data may also take suboptimal routes through multiple nodes before reaching its destination, straining bandwidth that is always scarce during missions. Moreover, any data within a particular security domain is considered to share its associated security classification – even if that is not the case. In addition, non-military data or compute sources remain outside the networks. In essence, sensors, effectors, C2 centres and other parties at different classification levels are not properly and securely connected.

The latest generation of cross domain solutions (CDS) provide the means to digitize classified domains and allow for new ways of data exchange. Direct connectivity between SECRET and RESTRICTED domains is now possible, with the protection of classified information and compliance with the highest information assurance standards remaining the guiding principle of CDS. While technology has evolved, the question is whether classified information protection regulations currently allow the latest CDS to connect domains of various classification levels.

What are cross domain solutions? CDS are IT hardware security appliances. They are not firewalls or encryption devices, but they do complement them. Whereas a firewall protects you from unwanted elements entering from the outside world, a CDS is a forced protocol break that prevents sensitive data from exiting a network – a bit like a border control point. They represent a niche segment within the datacentric security, data-loss prevention and network security sector. They are commonly used in defence and intelligence, but also address cybersecurity issues in critical infrastructure when connecting OT (operational technology) to IT systems. Development and evaluation, through national security authorities, of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) CDS products has only been taking place over the past 10 to 15 years. And, even within the cybersecurity community, many engineers are not yet aware of CDS. There are three product categories within CDS: Data Diodes, Security Gateways/Guards/IEG, and Data Classification/Labelling solutions. Today, many people ask for data diodes when they want to solve their

CDS use-case. That said, it is often the case that unidirectional data diode concepts are outdated, and bi-directional, high-assurance data-exchange and filtering capabilities are needed instead.

How do INFODAS cross domain solutions support NATO’s mission and the future role of data? INFODAS is the only CDS vendor in the world with a product portfolio that holds triple approvals for NATO SECRET, EU SECRET and German SECRET. The Secure Domain Transition (SDoT) Product Family addresses every military use-case with structured or unstructured data, from data centres to military vehicles. Within the day-to-day activities of military personnel, it is even possible to create manual and/or automatic NATO STANAG 4774/8-compliant XML security labels that are cryptographically bound to data objects for classification (eg RESTRICTED, Releasable to, expiration date). The SDoT Security Gateway, our flagship product, will check these XML security labels for release decisions. Our products solve many of today’s cross domain issues and, ultimately, result in time, resource and budget savings. The human factor can be removed from various processes. We also improve cybersecurity by removing reasons for military personnel to share sensitive data in an uncontrolled and less-secure fashion. Classically, our CDS control data transfer and access in the following architecture: SECRET (HIGH) <> Gateway (SGW) <> Firewall (FW) <> RESTRICTED (LOW) Alternatively, cascading security domain architectures can be mapped as per: SECRET (HIGH) <> SGW <> FW <> Confidential <> SGW <> RESTRICTED (LOW)


SDoT CDS were recently selected for NATO’s AWACS aircraft upgrade (led by Boeing) and the JEWCS programme (led by Leonardo). New data-sharing scenarios are frequently tested at CWIX, or recently in a multinational live-fire air defence exercise at NAMFI in Crete. The German Armed Forces have been using SDoT products for over 10 years on Navy ships, in Afghanistan (ISAF/RSP) and Mali (MINUSMA), always coming up with new requirements and use-cases to solve. The products are available as 19”, 1 U appliances or as smaller tactical versions for vehicles.

What is the advantage of a general NATO SECRET approval for CDS products? The ability to directly connect a SECRET to a RESTRICTED domain is a gamechanger for NATO and Member States. This opens up a range of digitization and inter- or intra-domain dataexchange opportunities that make a soldier’s life easier, and ultimately raises NATO’s military posture. Any evaluated and approved product removes the risk for military end-users failing to get their solution architecture accredited by the respective information security authority. Moreover, unlike a commercial certification, which allows variations in the scope of the evaluation, NATO SECRET approvals are the result of multi-year, independent formal and technical hardware/software and supply-chain evaluations by NATO SECAN and national information security bodies, such as Germany’s Federal Office of Information Security. In addition, all of the NATO Member States confirmed the decision by NATO’s Military Committee to grant a general NATO SECRET approval. Maintaining the approval requires continuous work on the security of products and meeting new requirements of











Connecting multiple domains to one HIGH (SECRET) domain with SDoT CDS national information security authorities as they arise. Essentially, every new line of code or functionality must meet very strict security requirements.

Can you share any lessons learnt for those who plan to use CDS to share data across security domains? Before going into the technical details, it’s important to understand your high-level use-case and the expected opportunities prior to changing the status quo. For example, would other data improve your mission or systems? Would third-parties, previously never considered as part of the data sharing, benefit from specific data? You should also be fully or at least partially aware of all the data and its sensitivity level inside your domain. Is it a machine-to-machine scenario, such as a database replication, or does it involve the human end-user who wants to make HIGH to LOW queries? A lot of time and budget can be saved if you gather the following information: classification levels, data types/structure, data size, data transfer frequencies, protocols and throughput.

cycles, CDS tend to trail behind technology trends. We expect CDS will slowly evolve in areas such as: – performance (transfer speed, latency); – virtual CDS instance; – data discovery and classification; – deployment; – easier filter/parser creation; – voice/video streaming; – multi-CDS-asset management in large networks from a central location; – formfactor/miniaturization. However, some of those areas are highly contested from a cybersecurity perspective. If a security gateway is your last resort to protect classified data, wouldn’t central management increase the attack surface of a CDS and probability of classified data loss? Given the complexity and fast-paced change of today’s cloud environments, would national security agencies ever be comfortable with a virtual CDS? We don’t know, but we are certain that change is inevitable as technological advances and user demands build up the pressure to find a compromise between high-assurance and the strategic value of data and digitization.

How will CDS evolve in the future to enable multidomain data sharing? Due to the information security authority requirements and evaluation

connect more. be secure.






NATO’s fleet of Boeing E-3A AWACS aircraft is one of a multitude of data sources on which operational decisions are made (PHOTO: CANR NORAD/USAF/DVIDS)


Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) at Allied Air Command, tells Simon Michell why it is important that his organization continues to find better ways to share its data in order to improve situational awareness and decision-making in operations Why must NATO find new ways to share data between Member States’ sensors and NATO forces?


Allied Air Command has influence and impact throughout the Euro-Atlantic airspace. Consequently, it is essential we leverage both national and NATO capabilities to realize the most effective deterrence and defence strategy.


In a world where potential adversaries are rapidly developing long-range ballistic missile and cruise missile strike capabilities, the rapid sharing of data between national sensors and NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence assets will be key to ensuring the protection of NATO’s populations and our critical infrastructure. Additionally, ‘Indications and Warnings’ provide senior leaders with crucial information to facilitate rapid decision-making with respect to threats to the Alliance’s Area of Responsibility. Fusing information

Operators based at Allied Air Command provide shared early warning (PHOTO: NATO)



from national and NATO assets ensures wide-ranging and timely intelligence is available for assessment and decision-making at the appropriate level. Synchronizing collection activities across multiple nations, while focusing on different regions, can help address specific required intelligence needs. Cross-cueing of data between national and NATO sensors ensures enhanced collection, increases our situational awareness, maximizes the use of these high value assets and supports peacetime activities throughout the Alliance. How will this enhance/achieve Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2)?


We have already participated in JADC2 activities and will continue to look for opportunities in the future to develop this capability. For example, a recent exercise in the Black Sea, in March 2021, utilized assets from all domains and across NATO Allies to generate firepower and refine tactics, techniques, procedures and communication at the operational and tactical levels. Through these readiness-enhancing activities, Allied Air Command is continually improving our coordination with the nations and delivering tangible benefit to the Alliance.



How can exercises help improve data-sharing between Allies?

Maximizing the potential of both NATO and A national exercises is paramount in improving data-sharing capabilities. Aligning national exercises with NATO efforts affords opportunities to test our capabilities in sharing information and, through critical examination, refines the required processes. Using these training opportunities creates mutual shared understanding between Allied nations in regard to the sharing of data. In addition, it provides ad-hoc learning moments, which stimulate innovation, new tactics and resilient partnerships.


“The use of artificial intelligence in future operations could prove invaluable”

Rapid sharing of data is crucial to making sure that NATO Member States remain protected (PHOTO: NATO)

Exercises play a critical part in developing important data-sharing opportunities, while ensuring that appropriate information can be shared rapidly and is available for our senior leaders, aiding in their decisions, if the actual need arises. Focusing on specific exercises with Allies can help further NATO objectives while also creating pathways to increased readiness for all. How important is the cloud, artificial

Q intelligence and machine learning to enhanced data sharing and processing? The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in future

A operations could prove invaluable. First off, it is important to define AI. According to the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), it is the ability of machines to perform a task that normally requires human intelligence. Examples include recognising patterns, making predictions and learning from experiences. Machine learning is a subset of AI, focusing on data and algorithms to imitate the way humans learn. This capability can help to provide key insights and recommendations. As you can imagine from the above definitions, AI, when housed in a cloud architecture and available to relevant Partners and Allies, will be a game-changer in predicting adversary actions and recommending relevant and timely decisions. By fusing all available data from nations and the Alliance and utilizing the processing power of AI, patterns that were previously unrecognisable at a human level will become clear. This enhanced data sharing and analysis will lead to a rapid Observe-Orientate-Decide-Act loop that can act as a deterrent to our competitors, and solidify an effective deterrence and defence for the Alliance, ultimately preserving peace.


INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE unique decision-making tool that will shape working procedures and, thus, define the future conduct of operations. In doing so, the ambition remains to maintain our advantage and initiative in order to overcome all adversaries.

Thierry Weulersse CEO, ThalesRaytheonSystems Air and Missile Defence Command and Control (TRS AMDC2)

What is the overriding gamechanger in the 21st-century Ballistic Missile Defence and C4ISR sector? Increasing digitalization, combined with the tremendous speed that data exchange has now reached, means that Allied air, space and cyber power needs to catch up in order to stay ahead of potential adversaries. NATO is currently developing a joint concept of operations that urges all domains and forces to be connected, so that they can share the same assessment of the threats and propose options to counter them. The aim is to anticipate events in order to prevent them from happening. Whilst we continue to improve our systems, and fully network them across the air, land, maritime, cyber and space domains, our roadmap aims at also capturing and storing all data in a vast data lake that will facilitate the required Cross-Domain Analysis. This will enable us to prepare options so that operators can select the most appropriate one to support the Joint Targeting and Joint Fires campaign plans that drive modern operations. The domain-associated command and control (C2) systems could, therefore, merge into one

Interoperability and interconnectivity, together with a common architecture and a set of standards, are key to success within the Alliance. Beyond the already-implemented interoperability and interconnectivity standards, TRS AMDC2 is working on upgrading the interoperability at architecture level to reinforce sharing within NATO’s Command Structure (NCS) Air Command and Control (AirC2), whilst safeguarding nations’ sovereignty at NATO’s Force Structure level (NFS).

How is TRS supporting the NCI Agency in leading AirC4I digital transformation? To address new strategic intents, TRS, with its strategic partners, is developing new capabilities enabled by digital transformation. We have been maturing four key technologies since 2017 to deliver information superiority, thereby enabling enhanced situational awareness and collaborative decision-making in all domains: – Artificial intelligence (AI): a transversal pillar integrated into future cognitive sensors and unmanned assets, maximizing levels of autonomy for complex decisionmaking in command structures and within dynamically reconfigurable communication networks; – Cloud computing: the heart of collaborative combat, enabled by data-centric architectures that provide powerful data valorization, such as multiplatform sensor data fusion and advanced decision-making; – Connectivity: a military Internet of Things (IoT), integrating next-

generation sensors, remote carrier swarms and C2 nodes in distributed, federated and resilient system-ofsystems architectures; – Cyber protection: necessary in a connected world where information guarantees operational superiority. Cyber defence is to be coherent, integrated and aligned with NATO’s Cloud Computing policy.

How is TRS integrating disruptive data technologies in its products and processes? As part of a highly agile process, relevant technological and methodological advances were injected into a new Technology Accelerator that employs Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and Proof of Concept (POC) methodologies to speed up both the Digital Transformation of the company and its product portfolio. The Technology Accelerator was established using two groundbreaking projects – DRAKE (MVP) and ANTICIPE (POC): – DRAKE: tackles open-system data-centric architecture through an Air Data Lake that grants access to the ecosystem partners and enables the development of digital applications and User eXperience (UX) design, in compliance with agile development and DevSecOps methodologies; – ANTICIPE: addresses the C2 system’s biggest conundrum – information overload. It does this through Human Autonomy Teaming (HAT) that uses AI in symbiotic collaboration with humans. ANTICIPE is to be deployed as part of the upcoming large-scale NATO exercise Steadfast Jupiter Jackal 2022.




DEVELOPING SPACE FOR THE ALLIANCE AND ITS MEMBER STATES Data collection and distribution is becoming an ever-greater facility of the Alliance’s newest operational domain – space. France’s Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, highlights the importance of space for NATO and its Member States, and how the new Toulouse-based NATO Space Centre of Excellence will assist with the development of this vital domain

away on the other side of the exo-atmospheric border.


Some 60 years have passed since John F Kennedy’s memorable speech that established space as “a new frontier”. Over the past 60 years, the world has changed a lot; frontiers have been pushed back and humanity has never stopped pushing the limits of our knowledge. Today, as I write these few lines, Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut, and his American and Japanese colleagues are at work in the International Space Station at an altitude of more than 400km, far

As technologies and ways of life have been changing simultaneously, space has gradually become a decisive element of international security. It is both a provider of essential services and a carrier of many threats. It is now a new area of rivalry between state powers, jeopardizing the very functioning of our societies, as well as our ability to conduct our military operations. Because I believe it is the bedrock of tomorrow’s defence, I made space one of my priorities as France’s Minister of the Armed Forces. The release of our Space Defence Strategy and the creation of a national Space Command in 2019 are key milestones of our space policy. In November 2019, by declaring space the fifth operational domain for NATO, Allies collectively decided

to invest in this strategic field. This was a most timely and necessary step. However, it is only a first step towards protecting our freedom of access and manoeuvre in space, and the unimpeded use of space guaranteed under international law. As our strategic competitors have already started to invest in this domain, we must be at the forefront to protect our interests. With the creation of the NATO Space Centre of Excellence, we are setting a real ambition for the Alliance. The message is loud and clear: NATO is in motion, and while space is no longer our new frontier, we know it is a potential battlefield.

A FUTURE SPACE HUB In January 2021, NATO formally accepted France’s offer to host the future NATO Space Centre of Excellence in Toulouse. The new NATO space hub will be located at


With the advance of technology, space can no longer be considered a new frontier, but a potential battlefield



NATO accepted France’s offer to host the future NATO space hub alongside the country’s Space Centre in Toulouse (PHOTO: GYROSTAT)

the heart of the biggest space ecosystem in Europe, next to our Space Command, Lab and Military Academy, as well as the French Space Agency, world-class aerospace companies, “new space” actors, innovative laboratories and academic institutions. It will, therefore, benefit from a unique range of expertise – both private and public, military and civilian, industrial and academic. That


outstanding environment will allow it to cover multiple segments, including not only space support to operations, but also space service support, space situational awareness, and command and control systems. Of course, it will also provide for all pillars of a NATO Centre of Excellence: training and exercises, doctrine, lessons-learned and concept development. This project is commensurate with

“This Centre will bring decisive space expertise to NATO”

NATO’s ambition in space and with France’s ambition for NATO. I attach great importance to the multinational dimension of this project and we will do everything necessary to ensure the widest participation of Allies and Partners. By bringing together a wide range of multinational space experts, this Centre will bring decisive space expertise to NATO, and will infuse a common allied understanding of the strategic and operational importance of space. I truly believe this collective project will allow the Alliance to pursue fully its ambition for space and accompany Allies towards longterm investment in space.

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20.05.2021 10:01:35

INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE critical enabler for all command and control (C2) activities, from the front line to the rear echelon.

What are your thoughts on data as a strategic resource and accelerated realisation?

Steve Beeching Managing Director, Viasat UK

What are NATO’s key security challenges? There is a generational shift that is amplifying the NATO Alliance strategic challenge. Not only are defence missions now subject to threats that are global, more invasive and increasing in frequency, but Allied efforts, budgets and strategies are further impacted by disruptive events and black swans (consider COVID-19 and continued political unrest) and an emerging economic superpower shift. These events have led to uncertainty and an increasing demand on finite resources and financials. This increasingly complex security environment is exacerbated by a pervasive, rapid digital and technological continuum, with a wider range of threat actors now able to acquire sophisticated capabilities that were previously available only to well-resourced nation-states. Adversaries are also leveraging rapid advances in emerging and disruptive technology to pose new and evolving threats – particularly in space, cyberspace and computing. To stay competitive in an environment that is highly dependent on information and its trustworthiness, data and its provenance becomes a

With statements such as those made by US Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist – “The responsibility of all DoD leaders is to treat data as a weapon system and manage, secure, and use data for operational effect.” – it is clear that data and digital networking must be treated as strategic resources across the battlespace. Similar to C2, trusted data transcends every domain, spanning every environment and security level. However, data is also the easiest to affect, manipulate and control as data is required to move, fuse or be acted upon with a higher level of trust and certainty. Viasat believes that commercially developed, cutting-edge, innovative and fielded solutions are uniquely positioned to augment existing defence visions and capabilities in order to meet mission outcomes and ensure data is treated as a strategic resource. With budgets under pressure and the exponential pace of the digital challenge, there is an opportunity for NATO to join forces with commercial technology companies to accelerate outcome possibilities at the speed of relevance, utilizing the commercial eagerness to embrace the opportunity to invest in and support defence technology.

How does this apply to data as a strategic resource within space evolution? Space capabilities and associated situational awareness are critical elements for effective multi-domain command and control to protect and defend space assets, respond to and mitigate threats and provide

tactical response to restore and maintain communications for NATO and Allied users. With the private sector willing to support early trials, demonstrations and minimum viable products, solutions available today can be delivered in bite-size increments, offering immediate advantages, or promptly augmented and updated with required defence software and applications.

Can you discuss examples of such space evolutions? An example of this commercial innovation is Viasat’s Enterprise Management and Control (EM&C) systems. The EM&C systems have been deployed since 2002 and continuously iterated to deliver best-available SATCOM networks with integrated, fused end-to-end situational awareness (SA) that combine space, terminal, security, network and cyber operations to offer real-time access to trusted data and intelligence feeds. This system currently delivers a Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) manager as an augmented service for centralised integration, coordination, and orchestration across existing satellites, commercial networks and space situational awareness. For NATO, this concept accelerates the opportunity to provide access to a cohesive enterprise common operational picture that will provide a robust network delivery and monitoring framework.

Why is the need for a seamless SATCOM network so important? The SATCOM enterprise is often a disparate federation of stove-piped systems operated and controlled by individual organizations. The proposed Enterprise Management and Control system assessment framework provides a process to attain integrated situational awareness for the NATO and Allied


operators, accelerated by existing solutions that incorporate real-time data and information from each of the distinct networks and systems through open APIs and services. This provides operators with the capability to rapidly identify threats while supporting orchestration services that automatically move and restore the highest-priority users in degraded or conflict situations. The system also monitors the health of assets and users, global network resilience and threat mitigation through machine-speed orchestration from advanced SA data. This allows operators and commanders to inspect and monitor the network health in real time at the macro level. In addition to enhancing SA visibility,

operation and networking (VISION) platform, providing the same integrated Common Operating Picture (COP) across networks, systems, users and monitoring systems at the tactical edge.

What are the resultant NATO and Allied operational mission accelerated benefits? The primary benefit for introducing this concept is to increase network resilience through machine-time orchestration and threat mitigation from advanced situational awareness data. Using data fusion from multiple data feeds and network level SA, the NATO enterprise, down to its commanders, will have improved access to intelligence information for supporting command-level decisions.

“There is an opportunity for NATO to join forces with commercial technology companies to accelerate outcome possibilities at the speed of relevance” the system delivers both improved resiliency in degraded environments and overlays space SA. The agile operations ensure seamless restoral of network outages and sustained operational advantage through scalability as additional networks are integrated into NATO. By monitoring space-based threats for detecting interference (intentional or unintentional) against space assets or monitoring for orbital conjunctions, it amplifies integration assurance for the entire end-to-end data journey necessary to operate a seamless SATCOM network. The Commanders’ Desktop can be upgraded to include interoperability with the visual integrated satellite communications information,

Using integrated data feeds from multiple network, terminal and third-party data sources also enhances; visibility of threats or issues across the SATCOM domain; rapid identification of issues that impact reliable communications service delivered to end-users (current and predictively); increased interoperability and integration of data sets within a single enterprise view; and increased coalition and Combined Space Operations across trusted allies.

elements necessary to operate a SATCOM Network. This includes space assets; ground sites or gateways (antennae, modems, physical infrastructure); Data Centers or Network Operations Centers; fibre; Cyber Operations Centres; and Space Operation Control Centres. This concept offers operators and commanders the ability to inspect and monitor the network health in real time at the macro level, as well as for operators to drill down into detailed performance information to isolate and identify specific issues.

Any final thoughts on real-time implementation to achieve defence outcomes? The early trial of space management and control systems, such as the HAN, enables NATO armed forces to maintain the tactical advantage, in complex and contested areas of operation where the five traditional operating domains (air, land, sea, cyber and space) can become blurred and confused. It supports overcoming the challenge to rapidly generate and update a trusted COP for units operating on land, in the air and at sea. Early-adopter experiments using available solutions improve mission realisation and prioritise budget efficiencies with ongoing dev-ops upgrades to optimise machinelearning and threat-detection algorithms for defence use. Sustainment is provided with additional systems, data sources and new or existing modules updated and expanded for ongoing interoperability and extension of capabilities.

While this includes monitoring of space-based threats for detecting interference (intentional or unintentional) against a space asset or monitoring for orbital conjunctions, it streamlines the integration to include each of the end-to-end



and disseminating intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data The Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system is now collecting huge volumes of strategically important data on behalf of NATO. AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Houston Cantwell and the NCI Agency’s Laryssa Patten update Alan Dron on its remarkable progress



Over the coming months, Sicily’s Sigonella air base will see the results of years of investment in the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system, as the ‘business end’ of the system, the huge RQ-4D Phoenix unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), lifts off the runway increasingly frequently for missions of up to 24 hours, feeding vital data back to analysts. The AGS system, which achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in February, provides a significant advance in NATO’s ability to monitor the region. Five RQ-4Ds are now based at the site, patrolling far over

the Mediterranean and beyond. “It can go out and range anywhere over the European theatre. It allows us to cover pretty much our entire area of responsibility,” says Brigadier General (BGEN) Houston Cantwell, AGS Force Commander. He notes that, within a couple of months of the IOC, the aircraft had been operating in the Black Sea area, where tensions between Russia and Ukraine are simmering. “We’ve shown the ability to get the sensor where we need it. We’ve proven its basic capability and the flexibility to get to the areas that are most interesting to senior leaders and to collect information.”



The Phoenix is a variant of the US Global Hawk, with its capabilities being most closely akin to the latter’s Block 40 version. However, it has additional upgrades, notably in the vehicle’s ground control station, which has an improved human-machine interface. The Phoenix gives NATO a capability it did not previously possess. Its sensors are a synthetic aperture radar, the beam of which creates a ‘picture’ of the ground beneath it, and a moving target indicator (MTI) that operates in both ground and maritime environments. MTI gives the Phoenix the ability to scan a section of ground and calculate the number and density of moving vehicles or vessels. “We can provide these indicators and warnings that are going to be so crucial to our senior decisionmakers at NATO, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and within our respective countries,” BGEN Cantwell explains. He adds that the team in Sicily was particularly excited by the ability to co-locate the handling of the processing, exploitation and dissemination of data from the vehicle at Sigonella. “All the analysts are co-located with us. The system is built so the pilots and sensor operators can work directly with the intelligence analysts.” In the US, by contrast, the squadron operating the Global Hawk is based



in North Dakota, but data from the platform is sent elsewhere for analysis. “We also purchased mobile ground stations and transportable ground stations, so we have the ability to pre-position and forwardlocate the ground nodes that handle intelligence and send information directly down from the aircraft to those tactical nodes.” The first RQ-4D Phoenix arrived at Sigonella in November 2019, with ‘Early Operational Capability’ declared in July 2020. All five have now been handed over. “Under the IOC, our contract is to fly a single operational mission every week. Duration is generally around 12 hours, although we can fly anywhere between 12 to 24 hours. We can sustain that pace fairly well.”

ENHANCED IOC The next challenge is getting the aircraft airborne on a more frequent basis. And, this next stage – Enhanced IOC – will happen sometime in 2022. “That will allow us to increase surge capability, flying every day for two weeks. For Full Operational Capability, which isn’t for a few years yet, we’re looking at surges of up to a month, as well as operating two aircraft at the same time,” says BGEN Cantwell. “I cannot over-emphasise the part played by the Communications Enterprise – both the equipment and the personnel that play a role in

maintaining connectivity. After each mission, the entire NATO AGS team scrutinises the link reliability, always seeking the highest possible levels.” While the NATO AGS Management Agency (NAGSMA) is responsible for procuring the system and providing initial in-service support to get the AGS system up and running, the NCI Agency is providing CIS, cyber, satellite communications (SATCOM) and Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JISR) services to support AGS operations. “NCI Agency personnel played a vital role in having the unit reach IOC,” notes Laryssa Patten, the NCI Agency’s Space and AGS Portfolio Manager. “We do a couple of things that are very important for the AGS. We have a SATCOM team that transitioned the system from contractor-provided SATCOM to NATO SATCOM, together with troubleshooting support. We also have our customer support unit on site at Sigonella, which is the first line of support to the force. Our Agency’s cyber security team also carried out a vulnerability assessment of the AGS system.” NCI Agency personnel also provided the NATO AGS Force with access to the NATO Secret network, allowing the force to exchange information and manage its operations.


Drawing down the ICT carbon footprint of the NCI Agency and NATO Dr Peter Lenk, NCI Agency Chief, Service Strategy and Innovation, outlines a strategy for cutting the carbon footprint of NATO’s vast data resources and data-related activities



As NATO’s communications and information expert, we have been developing strategies for reducing the contribution that IT and data make to NATO’s carbon footprint. It may not be obvious to many, but the amount of energy required to run our networks and power our ICT systems is enormous. Therefore, even small changes in behaviour can reap huge rewards. For example, Microsoft estimates that the manufacture of an average smartphone creates 55kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a Surface laptop 119kg. In the case of the laptop, they estimate that this represents about 78% of the CO2e of the laptop over its three-year lifetime; the other 22% is a result of the energy it takes to run it for three years and generates only 30kg by comparison. If we replace a laptop every three years, this means we create 119kg CO2e every three years during manufacture, meaning we generate about 40kg of CO2e on average per year. If we were to replace them every five years, this


same 119kg results in 24kg per year, a significant improvement. Therefore, we need to encourage industry to develop devices that are modular and upgradeable over their life, rather than disposed of and replaced every few years. We also need to buy higher-spec machines with more memory and higher central processing unit (CPU) performance, so they remain useful for longer. Our strategy should embrace a culture of repair, rather than replacement. To further reduce our ICT carbon footprint, we should pursue the work started by the Information Technology Modernization (ITM) programme and aggressively centralize our data centres. The reason is simple. In a 2016 report, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that, if 80% of servers in small US data centres were moved over to hyper-scale facilities, this would result in a 25% drop in energy use. If NATO data centres were centralized, not only would this cut the carbon

Our environmental impact is not limited to the procurement, running and disposal of our IT systems. COVID-19 has taught us that travel is not nearly as necessary as we once considered it to be. But, if we need to travel, we should use the least environmentally damaging form of transportation available, and ride-sharing should be the norm. Moreover, the NCI Agency and NATO should consider acquiring electric vehicles to replace its petrol/diesel ones.

temperature at which we set our thermostats, to how much air conditioning we use, how we heat our water and how we cook our food. But, more than that, we need to challenge what food our cafeterias serve and ask them to use more local produce. We need to reduce the amount of leftovers we throw away each day. Reducing our energy consumption may also mean considering substituting beef with lower carbon-footprint sources of protein.

In fact, we must consider energy consumption in general – from the

We have printed very little since the COVID-19 lockdown started, so do

footprint dramatically, it would also make it possible to move the bulk of the ICT infrastructure to locations where electricity generation is cleaner. Of course, NATO would want to retain some geographic diversity, so putting all the data centres in one nation is not an option, but a reduction of the average carbon emissions from 252g/kWh currently to 150g/kWh, or lower, should be achievable. We can also reduce the power utilization efficiency (PUE) of our data centres. One simple way to achieve this is to move aggressively to the cloud, leveraging the high efficiencies of hyper-scale cloud providers. This is currently feasible for unclassified/low-classification networks. For higher-classified networks, nations with high-efficiency data centres for national purposes could offer space for lease. Going a step further, NATO could even outsource the provision of data-centre services to the nations. With these relatively simple mitigations, a reduction from the current estimated PUE of 1.6 to 1.8 down to 1.2-1.4 should be achievable. Another way to reduce energy consumption would be to run data centres hotter. Currently, most are at around 20°C, yet Google run theirs at about 25°C. The difference in temperature makes a big difference in cooling demands. The downside is that it shortens the response time in the event of an issue with cooling before systems overheat.

LAPTOPS, TABLETS, SCREENS AND PERIPHERALS Returning to the subject of devices. NATO uses about 50,000 client devices of a variety of forms. With the

we need to print more as we return to the office? We need to change our professional and personal expectations and not lose the good habits we have acquired during lockdown.



growing adoption of laptops, tablets and thin clients (computers running off resources from a central server) the power consumption of these client devices is being incrementally reduced. However, the proliferation of dual screens attached, when docked in the office, and other peripherals drives the energy budget up. Each of the 50,000 devices produce roughly 34 kg of CO2e per year. This means that about 1.7 million kg of CO2e is generated from the client devices alone. That’s without including screens and other peripherals. HPE reports a mean CO2e for their 23-inch monitors of 570 kg over five years, or 124 kg per year. In comparison, their 27-inch monitor generates 580kg and a 34-inch generates 695 kg CO2e. The monitors alone, assuming a single small (23-inch) screen attached to each of the 50,000 client devices and a five-year lifecycle, result in 5,700 metric tonnes of CO2e. So, a reasonable strategy regarding these devices would be to extend the life of client devices, use more low-power devices (such as laptops, tablets and thin clients) and, when separate screens are required, use single larger screens, rather than numerous smaller screens. When people leave for the evening, they should be encouraged to shut down client devices, monitors, etc, rather than placing them on standby. These incremental mitigations are not the end of the story; merely the beginning. They also focus on the ICT element of our carbon footprint. We need to address travel, energy use in general and water consumption as well. More specifically, we urgently need to create a culture where people are aware of the impact their actions have on the environment and to develop a set of practices that are climate-conscious.


INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE Is culture important to digital transformation?

Kate Maxwell CTO for Defence & Intelligence, Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector

How is Microsoft helping NATO’s digital transformation? Microsoft and the NCI Agency are partnering closely to support NATO’s digital transformation initiative. The Agency’s NATO Software Factory is a great example of this, demonstrating how technology can be used to enable new capability development and deployment, innovation and collaboration between different teams working together on a common platform. The past year has seen a dramatic shift in how defence and intelligence teams work, collaborate and forge new skills. The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the need for secure, resilient, cloud-based solutions, enabling enhanced collaboration with partners, industry and academia across an increasingly remote work environment. We believe that further adoption of cloud technology will allow NATO to focus on its core mission of consultation and collective defence, taking full advantage of technological advances to enable agility, innovation at speed and scale, as well as a data-driven posture across all operations and missions.

Culture is a critically important element to digital transformation. The human experience needs to be core to every digital transformation journey. Transformation is not just about technology enablers and IT systems – it is ultimately about people, and how they use and interact with technology to accomplish their jobs. The only way to successfully transform an organization is to get the culture right. A culture with a learning and growth mindset, a healthy tolerance for risk and psychological security are vitally important to transformation efforts taking hold and truly being embraced.

Can Microsoft help NATO turn its data into insights? We work with organizations such as NATO and coalition partner nations to help them understand their data objectives, governance policies and challenges, then support them through their cloud-adoption process to truly harness data as an asset and turn it into insights. Part of that effort includes helping customers map out their data estate – performing data discovery, classification and mapping, as well as evaluating data sensitivity and characteristics. This gives customers a bird’s-eye view of their data landscape, across all places where the data resides – often across multiple locations, both virtually and geographically, including many operational databases, data warehouses and data lakes, and with storage solutions ranging from on-prem to cloud to edge.

Why are cloud, 5G and Satcoms important to this process? Mission connectivity is critically important to defence and intelligence customers. At Microsoft, our vision is

to bring connectivity to every mission through the intersection of space, 5G and the cloud. We are working to extend the utility of Microsoft Azure capabilities through the power of space infrastructure, creating Azure Space to serve as the platform and ecosystem of choice to meet the mission needs of the space community. We are also partnering with 5G operators and service providers to enable advancements in enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-reliable low-latency communications and massive machine-type communication to enable IoT at scale and 5G as a Service (5GaaS) natively from Azure. Cloud: Actionable information is core to a strong defence and intelligence posture and, given the proliferation of sensors, there is no shortage of data in the defence community. The challenge, however, is turning that data into insights, and making insights available at the time and place of need – including across domains, coalition partners and at the tactical edge. Cloud computing serves as the digital backbone to help meet this challenge for all modern industries – defence and intelligence included. Cloud solutions provide data accessibility, security, scalability, elasticity and significant economies of scale, while enabling innovation and increased productivity on a proven mission platform that extends from headquarters all the way to the tactical edge. 5G and Satcoms: Historically, secure data accessibility at the edge has been a challenge – particularly in disconnected and comms-challenged environments, as well as in expeditionary and forward-deployed scenarios. 5G and space-based communication mechanisms are changing the game for data availability and network extension,


practice through the Office of Responsible AI (ORA), the AI, Ethics, and Effects in Engineering and Research (Aether) Committee, and Responsible AI Strategy in Engineering (RAISE). AI/ML are powerful capabilities that contribute to national security in meaningful ways. It is our responsibility as technologists and members of the global community to hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and commit to responsible AI research, development and innovation.

as these previously disconnected environments are suddenly becoming connected, thanks to new highbandwidth, low-latency comms networks and edge-cloud connectivity. 5G infrastructure and softwaredefined networking capability will continue to mature, and each must keep pace with the demand for secure connected-edge computing and communications across the full mission thread. Similarly, as the proliferation of space-based comms infrastructure continues to expand (in particular, due to the explosive growth in small-sat low-earth orbit (LEO) constellations), edge connectivity will become less comms-challenged. Soon, we will see even the darkest comms corners of the globe become available for edge-cloud connectivity thanks to the space-based network. The combination of 5G and spacebased comms methods, along with existing connectivity solutions like fibre, wi-fi and short-range RF capabilities, will continue to expand defence and intelligence communications as far as the mission thread requires – bringing highintensity, secure cloud computing and comms to some of the planet’s most challenging environments.

Can Microsoft help organizations implement AI and ML? AI and ML are critical to a data-driven national security policy. Microsoft can help organizations put AI/ML into action through business-process optimization, employee productivity tools and a range of first- and thirdparty applications. For defence workers and business users, Microsoft 365 has infused AI into familiar apps in accessible, user-friendly ways. This helps defence employees improve personal productivity and streamline tasking and daily decision-making. With Microsoft Power Platform, we have taken AI to the next level with democratized, ready-to-use AI that offers users of all levels of technical expertise the ability to create new AI applications with no-code/low-code templates. And for software developers and data scientists, our Azure AI platform provides machine-learning capabilities in Azure to give defence forces the ability to build, train and deploy ML models quickly and at scale. At Microsoft, we are committed to the advancement of AI driven by ethical principles that put people first, ensuring that AI systems and capabilities are developed responsibly and in ways that warrant trust. We put our responsible AI principles into

What role do partnerships play in Microsoft’s activities? Our technology partners big and small are great at bringing innovation forward for inclusion in the defence tech stack. With respect to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), the small and commercially facing ISVs have historically had a hard time breaking into the defence community. But that is changing, and Microsoft’s Azure platform and partner ecosystem are part of the solution. We offer opportunities for collaborative sales, and programs that help our partners grow. We invest in partner onboarding and build-with efforts, training, support and go-to-market resources. Thanks to advancements in cloud platforms, containerization and microservice architectures, it is becoming far easier to rapidly inject new mission capability into the defence tech stack via partnerships, small businesses and non-traditional defence vendors. This further strengthens our partner ecosystem and yields great benefit for the global defence and intelligence ecosystem.


Simon Michell talks to Rear Admiral René Tas, Assistant Chief of Staff for Capabilities at NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT), to find out about the importance of data and artificial intelligence (AI) to anti-submarine warfare (ASW) activities 60


What opportunities will autonomous systems offer maritime operations?

Within the maritime domain, one of the most challenging types of warfare is anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The underwater environment has its own challenges, but also offers its own opportunities. We see opportunities in the development of unmanned systems for ASW, for mine countermeasures (MCM) activities and for maritime ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) in general. Not only will these systems collect data, they will require data, and they will process and communicate data.


With this, comes the requirement for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) features in what will become semi-autonomous or fully autonomous systems. Autonomous systems will offer the opportunity to develop and deploy intelligent networks achieving high performance for a wide range of applications in the maritime domain, including ASW. At the same time, we should be aware that such systems will also have operational and technological constraints.


How is ACT supporting the use of AI in ASW?

Effective autonomy-enabled ASW will require intelligent platforms with state-of-the-art sensors and algorithms that allow optimized detection and tracking capabilities, with reduced human intervention. To this end, ACT is investing in developing advanced assets and algorithms, including AI-based solutions, and testing them at sea. Future capabilities will increasingly use cognitive sonar systems, data fusion, deep convolutional neural networks to self-learn and improve performance as surrounding parameters (such as the environmental ones) evolve. Challenges and opportunities in this field are among the drivers for NATO Allied Command Transformation‘s (ACT’s) Warfare Development Agenda.



with concepts such as machine learning, AI and even algorithmic warfare. It is not just about technology; people, culture, including organizational behaviour, infrastructure and processes, are equally important. And, of course, we need the right policies to make this work. There is no need to explain the importance, and even the growing importance, of the maritime domain. NATO’s supremacy in the maritime domain is a key and enduring strategic objective. Accomplishing this has become more challenging as, on the one hand, our competitors have improved their capabilities, while on the other hand we have not kept pace with our investments in the maritime domain. Hence, we need to strengthen this investment and, where possible, leverage data, including AI, to enable us to – among other things – outthink, overmatch and outfight our adversaries. It will be no surprise that we need a strong Science and Technology (S&T) foundation to achieve this.




How can AI algorithms help with ASW?

The operational advantages of employing systems with increased levels of autonomy is that these systems will allow us to act more effectively and efficiently through machine-to-machine and human-tomachine coordination. The AI within systems and platforms with autonomous functions allows an increase of real-time data that can be acquired and that is processed unsupervised at the sensor edge. If we then communicate the result in a secure operational network, the operators – who will be assisted by data fusion features, visualization technologies and automated analysis support – will be faster and smarter than ever before. It will lead to a faster decision cycle, delivering effects more rapidly and effectively. The technology will enable all of this. At the same time, it is important that


How important is data to future ASW capabilities?

I believe, across NATO, we value the strategic importance of data and we understand that data science is a key enabler to improve our warfighting capability. However, data and data science transcend AI. It starts with data itself. What is the problem to be solved? What data is needed to better understand the problem? How do we obtain it, and how do we share it? We need to answer these questions before we can start


Artificial intelligence enables an increase in the acquisition of real-time data, leading to faster decision-making (PHOTO: NATO)



we understand what AI does and can provide in our decision-making. At all times, we must maintain knowledge at all relevant (operational) levels of what tasks are performed by systems, so we build the trust that is required to rely on such systems.

To what types of ASW activities are AI or autonomous algorithms being applied?


Traditionally, ASW has been performed by surface A and undersea manned vessels equipped with advanced sensor systems. Autonomous intelligent systems offer the opportunity to develop and deploy an intelligent network that achieves a high-performance capability for a wide range of applications in the maritime domain (airborne, shipborne submarine and sonobuoys), while having less manned systems in harm’s way. Those technologies introduce new possibilities, but also new challenges, in particular for navigation, signal processing, data fusion, underwater communications and networking. These challenges are what ACT and the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) are tackling.


How important is teamwork in this realm?

We require teamwork. That is why it is important that ACT, through its maritime programme of work and its relationship with CMRE, closely cooperates with the multinational NATO ASW Barrier SDI 1.1271 activity and other maritime unmanned system (MUS) initiatives. Equally important is to ensure that we develop capabilities together with the operational



ACT is investing in advanced assets and algorithms, and testing them at sea (PHOTO: NATO/MARCOM)

community and test new capabilities and concepts together. That is why it is important that all stakeholders are invited to participate in Exercise Dynamic Messenger 2022 where we will test unmanned systems in an operational scenario. War-fighters will be the ones that will use the systems and we, as NATO’s warfare development command, should provide them with the best equipment and processes we can develop.


How is ACT supporting CMRE in this field?

ACT sponsors CMRE as a contracted science and technology provider supporting an ASW Programme. This includes the technology development and the understanding of the performance space over the different ASW mission areas. We work with CMRE on architecture, networks of autonomous ASW and MCM systems and ISR systems, in order to be able to develop and test capabilities that improve maritime situational awareness and counter threats in the underwater domain. It is about keeping the science and technology edge so we can leverage science and technology results in our warfare development activities, in order to provide the best assets to the war-fighter. The way forward should aim to increase the number of demonstrations and experimentations in both standalone events and operational exercises, to link science and technology results to both directed and open innovation elements, and to further improve cooperation with (multi-)national initiatives.


Note: Admiral Tas will be promoted to Vice Admiral and appointed Commander of the Royal Netherlands Navy starting in September 2021

Robert Been, Principal Scientist and ASW Section Head at NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), highlights the value of collaboration with NATO, multinational initiatives and NATO entities, such as the NCI Agency As an externally funded organization, NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) has several customers, of which Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is its biggest, and for which it undertakes maritime science and technology work. For example, CMRE’s Dr Alberto Alvarez is working on maritime environmental knowledge and operational effectiveness for ACT. CMRE also develops and tests systems for vessel tracking, mine countermeasures, and, of course, anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Robert Been, Principal Scientist and ASW Section Head at CMRE, leads a multidisciplinary team working on the development and at-sea testing of advanced autonomous unmanned systems that comprise cognitive sonar components and advanced algorithms to tackle the challenging field of ASW. The team also supports exercises with operational research and dataanalysis expertise. “We will showcase some of this work this September in the operational exercise known as Recognised

Environmental Picture, Maritime Unmanned Systems, REP(MUS) 2021, and plan to do so again next year in Dynamic Messenger 2022”. Data is key in these activities, and CMRE has a vast collection of ASW data in relevant (manned and unmanned) scenarios and areas. This enables the development of machine-learning (ML) algorithms to enable unsupervised processing of sonar data, supporting the end user to take decisions at a much faster pace than in current, mostly conventional, ASW operations. “We apply these algorithms in the domain of target classification, underwater acoustic communication, data fusion and underwater acoustic propagation. The latter two science and technology areas are in close collaboration with Dr Alvarez’s team”.

CLOSE COLLABORATION In addition, Been’s team collaborates closely with CMRE’s Engineering and IT Division (EITD), which works on scientific networks, software development and data management. In the maritime domain, both the Research Division



(RD) and EITD teams, with their in-house expertise and an extensive ASW database, are in a strong position to do machine learning and, thereby, support ACT to achieve their ambitions in that field. The ASW team actively seeks collaboration with the NATO Member States, among others, through the Distributed Autonomous Networked Systems (DANS) initiative, and works with the ASW Smart Defence Initiative (SDI) and Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative (MUSI). It is also exploring collaboration with the NCI Agency, for ACT, in order to boost machine learning in ASW by exploiting the knowledge base that is present in both CMRE and the NCI Agency. In spring 2021, Been, together with with RD and EITD colleagues, had a teleconference with the Head of the NCI Agency’s Innovation and Data Science, Dr Michael Street, and NCI Agency Senior Scientist Ivana Ilic Mestric, to see how they could benefit from both organizations’ expertise. One of the options discussed was to run a small pilot project advising ACT on how to take ASW-specific data science and machine learning forward for NATO.




ANTI-SUBMARINE WARFARE SYSTEMS David Burton, Director of the NATO anti-submarine warfare (ASW) Barrier Smart Defence Initiative, highlights the need to place interoperability at the forefront of underwater battlespace capabilities development in order to deliver cost-effective ASW solutions for NATO and its partners 64

A change of course and strong leadership is now required, alongside closer cooperation with key stakeholder groups, including industry. While industry brings innovative solutions in the form of new platforms and sensors, their offerings are often standalone in nature and not configured to be part of a broader system of systems. If the potential of Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) is to be fully exploited, it is time to act so that industry can be guided to adopt standards that will facilitate interoperability. The NATO ASW Barrier Smart Defence Initiative is positioned under the NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative (MUSI) to do just this and to accelerate progress while sharing costs and risks. The initiative commenced in February 2020 and the team has met regularly during lockdown. The 10th Programme Board took place on 20 April 2021. The programme’s mission is to develop a technical demonstrator comprising both legacy and interoperable MUS solutions to securely provide a force-multiplying ASW capability. With a membership of 11 Nations (Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States), the Smart Defence Initiative is formally supported by a number of NATO elements, including: Allied Command Transformation (ACT), Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), the Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence (CJOS COE), the Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters (COE CSW), the International Military Staff (IMS) and the International Staff of the Defence Investment Division (IS/DI).

AUTONOMOUS DELIVERY Future ASW capabilities are predicted to comprise groups of relatively small and inexpensive MUS assets working with conventional capabilities. Together, they will deliver outcomes that are comparable or better than conventional platforms that are operating alone.

This teaming arrangement will lower the overall cost and increase flexibility. Deployed dynamically, heterogeneous suites of autonomous vessels and sensors will operate with a common mission: detecting, identifying and tracking potentially hostile submarines, clearing mines and providing operational environmental intelligence. Ultimately, working in conjunction with conventional crewed assets, MUS solutions will, without doubt, contribute to our future underwater security. Through the ASW Barrier Smart Defence Initiative, nations have set-up a cooperative framework via a Letter of Intent, signed by all the participants. The aim is to realize the benefits of: – – – – –


In recent years, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) has emerged as a priority area for NATO’s maritime security at a time when large-scale platform replacement programmes are increasingly deemed unaffordable. Fortunately, the development of Maritime Unmanned Systems (MUS) is offering an opportunity to fill some of those capability gaps. That said, independent, incremental development will not deliver interoperable solutions in a timely, cost-effective fashion. Instead, they would likely result in stove-piped solutions and expensive misjudgements.

closing capability gaps more quickly; economies of scale; mitigating tactical and strategic risk; developing common solutions; achieving interoperability through common approaches and standardization.

AN EFFECTIVE ASW BARRIER The Alliance Underwater Battlespace Mission Network (AUWB-MN) is an essential feature of an effective ASW barrier and the backbone of any future NATO underwater MUS capability. It will exploit both acoustic communication and more novel techniques to provide: – reliable underwater communications; – interfaces to above-water terrestrial and satellite communications utilizing radio frequencies and other innovative communication bearers; – effective command and control delivery; – the conduit for data-harvesting, data fusion and data exploitation. Defining and publishing the architecture and standards for the AUWB-MN is fundamental to accelerating underwater capability delivery and guiding nations and industry to ensure that they design-in interoperability from the outset. Input and guidance from the operational community is also vital to success, and operational experimentation (OPEX) is at the heart of an iterative developmental approach. The support from MARCOM, ACT and CMRE has been critical to progress to date. The exercise known as REPMUS 21 (Recognised Environmental Picture, Maritime Unmanned Systems), led by Portugal in September, will be an important stepping stone to Dynamic Messenger 2022, which will be led by MARCOM. OPEX events are vital for spotlighting



Anti-submarine warfare in the future will involve manned and unmanned vessels above and below the surface of the water (PHOTO: NATO STO)

cutting-edge technologies from industry and research centres. Working alongside conventional operational systems, experimentation will focus on real-world challenges and accelerate capability delivery by putting new technologies in the hands of the operators.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES To incentivize industry there must be clear commercial benefits, and that means business opportunities. The premise is that, once nations are assured of a pathway to a viable capability, and performance and interoperability are proven, then they will increase their investment. The AUWB-MN concept will allow nations to be network-enabled, regardless of the level and focus of investment. This

will, therefore, lower the bar for nations contributing to future Alliance Underwater Battlespace MUS capability. To deliver mature network-enabled solutions in the near-term is perhaps not realistic, but it is important to define the journey and to track progress via objective assessment. The UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has developed a Common Maritime Autonomy Systems Maturity Framework (CMMF) to undertake this assessment. Progress will be phased transitioning through stages (see table). It is a privilege to be Director of this important initiative, and my thanks go to the Royal Navy for its continued support and sponsorship. The next few months promise to be exciting for the ASW Barrier SDI, with important








MUS operating in the same campaign, but wholly independently

MUS coordination based upon positional information only, therefore allowing separation and collision avoidance

MUS able to collaborate based upon defined planning and product interfaces and shared critical information – ‘hub and spoke’ mode.

MUS fully interoperable, working together based upon defined information and task-sharing through common C2 arrangements

Critical MUS features are common, thereby facilitating full interoperability and Interchangeability at a system and systemof-systems level, including facilitating swapping of C2


NCI Agency antisubmarine warfare data support Ivana Ilic Mestric, NCI Agency Senior Data Scientist, highlights the NCI Agency’s support to ASW developments in AI and ML The NCI Agency is working closely with Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) on using the increasing volumes of data that are being collected from the maritime environment to improve naval decision-making. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques are now being applied to this data in numerous ways to enhance NATO’s maritime security. Ivana Ilic Mestric, an NCI Agency Senior Scientist, explains why the NCI Agency is a key partner in this effort. “We’ve built up a lot of experience in the challenges of applying AI to NATO problems. More importantly, we’ve built up a lot of experience in using NATO data to develop AI solutions to operational problems.” With its decades of experience in networks and data, the NCI Agency is a key asset when it comes to AI

and ML. “Since ‘real-world’ data is rarely available in the perfect form to develop AI/ML straight away, we have built up expertise in extracting and collecting data as well as cleaning and preparing it for it to be processed,” says Ilic Mestric. “The ML models we use are tightly connected to the available data sets and specific problems we would like to solve. Depending on the objective, we would probably apply a variety of models – some for detecting the object, based on sonar data, and some to analyse acoustic and wave data from different points in the ocean. “This fusion of multi-sensor heterogeneous data, where learning from historical data has a key role, and the creation of relevant relationships between sensor outputs and presence of ‘unwelcome’ objects, is one of the huge benefits AI brings to improving our understanding of the undersea environment – especially when it changes.”

work on ‘System of Systems Performance’, led by Italy, ‘C3 (command, control and communications) and Interoperability’, led by the UK, and ‘Doctrinal Development’, led by CJOS COE. There is also the exciting possibility that Spain will step up to lead ‘Data Management and Security’, along with the Portuguese GEOMETOC Centre, and that an NCI Agency team will deliver a study into ASW Data Fusion. Last but not least, I remain indebted to the NATO CMRE for their continued

Under the auspices of the wider NATO ASW programme of works, the NCI Agency shares its expertise with CMRE. According to Ilic Mestric, “We are working closely with CMRE on ASW as the maritime domain brings challenges not just for collecting data (from underwater gliders or sensors), but also for transmitting large volumes of data; preparing the data; using it in AI models; and presenting the AI output in the right form for the operational community to make best use of it.” “This collaborative work helps us to better understand the technical challenges when applying AI to ASW in a multi-domain environment, as these challenges span both the undersea and maritime surface space, as well as the communication and information domain. Together we are bringing a holistic view of the technologies needed to address this operational problem.”

support of all Work Packages and for providing thought leadership on so many related subjects. Collectively, the ASW Barrier Smart Defence Initiative programme combines expertise across a broad range of domains, from data to operations, coordinated across many elements of NATO and the Alliance, all combining to ensure NATO will benefit from emerging technologies and is prepared for future threats.




0 The current return to great power competition is establishing a new chapter for naval warfare, where the submarine force is expected to play a relevant role. In addition to their lethal destructive power, submarines create a tremendous amount of uncertainty for adversaries by exploiting their stealth Water Sound capabilities and discreet Speed Profile surveillance on the battlefield. This uncertainty is a substantial element of the deterrent power of the submarine force, compelling surface naval forces to devote enormous resources and effort to detecting submarine threats.





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Underwater vehicle (AUV). NATO’s CMRE tests such systems to explore potential application in military operations. (PHOTO: CMRE)

In Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations, naval units with different endurance and power are usually distributed among specific marine sectors to configure detection and search patterns. Underwater acoustics is the primary, but not the only, technology involved in conducting these ASW operations. The effectiveness of underwater

acoustics is highly dependent on the intervening medium and its imposed limitations on sensor performance. Sonar-based detection, localization and tracking capabilities are heavily influenced by the acoustic propagation loss. The rapid and timely assessment of acoustic propagation loss is required to reduce the uncertainty induced by the variable nature of the marine environment. This environmental assessment provides sufficient and realistic environmental information to optimize sensor designs, signal processing and the configuration of detection and search patterns. Acoustic propagation loss is highly dependent on the sound speed profile (SSP) of the water column and the acoustic reflection properties and geometry of its surface and bottom boundaries. SSP, in turn, is mainly determined by the thermal stratification of the water column. Knowledge about the spatial and time variability of the underwater temperature enables commanders to estimate sonar ranges to decide the appropriate ASW tactics to optimize tracking and detection. Traditionally, hydrographic ships from the world’s navies navigated the oceans collecting oceanographic data to build climatologies. Due to the impact of climate change, the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) is currently contributing to the updating of these climatologies in strategic regions such as the Arctic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The eXpendable BathyThermograph (XBT) and the Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) are the preferred probes for this collection of oceanographic data. XBTs

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Dr Alberto Alvarez Diaz, Principal Scientist at NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), highlights how advances in maritime autonomous systems have optimized ASW tactics and sonar accuracy through effective and efficient data collection


AUTONOMOUS PLATFORMS This paradigm assumes that the most effective and efficient way to oceanographically sample vast marine regions is through persistent and widely distributed networks of autonomous platforms using low-power probes. Thanks to these technological advances, CTD probes are now installed on autonomous platforms like profiling floats and underwater gliders, among others. The former move freely with the currents and perform diving cycles to outline oceanographic properties. The latter are torpedo-shaped platforms that use a wing configuration and a buoyancy engine for underwater movements and manoeuvres, generating sawtooth-like profiles of oceanographic variables. Both platforms transmit the oceanographic data in near-real time when they surface.

CMRE has repurposed these commercial technologies to facilitate covert oceanographic sampling in disputed areas, where it may not be safe for manned platforms to venture. The collected oceanographic datasets are used to generate understanding and provide insights into current and future thermal stratification, among other applications. This information is extracted from the data, using numerical ocean models. These are software engines that integrate the fundamental equations of fluid motion over time to obtain current and future conditions of the marine environment.


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obtain information of the thermal structure as they freefall through the water column. The information is transmitted to the on-board processing system through a very thin wire. Eventually, at predetermined depths, the wire breaks and data collection is concluded. The on-board CTD probe integrates temperature, conductivity and pressure sensors within a metal frame called a rosette. This houses a series of water bottles that can be selectively closed at the desired water depths. The structure is lowered via an electromechanical cable through the water column, providing temperature and derived salinity profiles in real time. Recent technological advances in low-power, miniaturized electronics and robotics have contributed to the development of a new paradigm in observational oceanography.


Although ocean prediction models capture much of the complexity of the real ocean, their results tend to deviate from reality after some time. Data assimilation methods attempt to constrain models to reality by incorporating existing observations in the modelling process. Digital ocean models of certain marine regions are run at CMRE to support NATO ASW exercises. The amount of oceanographic data collection has been drastically increased in recent decades with the advent of new in situ sampling platforms and satellites.



It is becoming increasingly difficult for a human being to capture all the information content from the huge amounts of collected data. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to extract useful information from oceanographic datasets is still in its infancy and largely unexplored. Attempts have been made at CMRE to improve data assimilation using deep learning techniques. The range of applicability of AI techniques has yet to be determined in this field.








Sound Speed (ms ) -1



A recent NCI Agency development challenge set participants the task of improving the detection of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Mike Bryant asks Adelica Ndoni, a junior data scientist at the NCI Agency, to explain what the judges were looking for 70

A particular highlight of the recent International Conference on Military Communications and Information Systems (ICMCIS), organized by the NCI Agency in collaboration with NATO’s Science and Technology Organization and held on 4-5 May, was a special session in which the winners of the Agency’s latest challenge presented their solutions to a thorny problem. This year, the participants had to focus on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in ways that have the potential to enable commanders to make better decisions faster, by providing more comprehensive levels of situational awareness. Participants in the Class I Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Challenge were tasked with offering their solution to tracking, classifying and identifying Class I UAS flying within a protected zone using the sensor data made available. Class I UAS weigh less than 150kg; the classification covers most hobby drones, but that is not to say they cannot present a significant threat when flown in prohibited airspace.

Those who took up the challenge could fuse together several sources of data provided by the Agency to identify and track the drones. These sensors included radar and radio direction-finding, data from which had to be assessed to confirm the presence of a Class I UAS – as opposed to, for example, a bird or any other unidentified object flying in the test zone – then classify and identify it (based on a number of features typically found in UAS). If classified as a drone, the UAS had to be tracked and its ongoing speeds and locations recorded. It then had to be identified as a particular type of drone: for instance, a DJI Mavic Pro, DJI Phantom 4 Pro etc. The UAS Challenge formed part of a larger research and development effort by the NCI Agency, aimed at developing effective remote sensing technologies that are suitable for detecting, tracking and identifying Class I UAS. The challenge supports the efforts that NATO and, hence, the NCI Agency is making to protect its people, facilities and missions against

The Dutch Ministry of Defence’s Counter-UAS Nucleus hosted the data-collection phase, the test range being in De Peel, the Netherlands. The NCI Agency’s Counter-Drone Alliance RDO (Research via Development to Operations) Team (CDART) led on data collection, using sensors provided by NATO nations and industry. Drones were flown into a circular area, with a radius of about 1.5km, over a three-day period in September and October last year, in order to collect the necessary sensor data to which the challenge participants were given access. The flight duration of each UAS mission was between 10 and 20 minutes.

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS “We were looking for innovative solutions, ones using the most state-of-the-art in machine-learning technology,” explains Adelica Ndoni, a junior data scientist at the NCI Agency, who worked on the challenge. She and her colleague, senior scientist Cristian Coman, were heavily involved in both designing and launching the challenge. Just as the fully virtual ICMCIS conference focused on the

application of artificial intelligence (AI) and ML to the areas of military situational awareness and decisionmaking, so the UAS Challenge tested the participants’ use of the latest machine-learning techniques to detect and identify small unmanned vehicles. “The nature of the participants didn’t matter,” says Ndoni. “Anyone was welcome to participate in the challenge and provide their solution to our challenge’s tasks.” A customized evaluation metric was used to compare every submission against the true data included in the log files of each of the UAS flights, which is owned by the NCI Agency for evaluation purposes and was not released to the participants. This involved the comparison of the various values provided in the applicants’ submissions (for positional data, classification and identification of the UAS) against the true data – the lower the mean error (ie the less the deviation between a submission’s values and that of the true data), the better the proposed solution. As for how the participants’ various ideas may be deployed, Ndoni explains that this challenge has been all about “exploring more innovative technologies in machine learning for improving the performance of drone detection”. It does not form any part of an acquisition process as of now. “This project is part of the NCI Agency’s

overall support to NATO,” she explains. “It was a difficult challenge, but there was great interest from participants.” Only the top four submissions saw their proposers asked to share their approach in more depth with a wider community, in a special session on counter-UAS and radio-frequency technologies at the virtual conference, where the solutions they arrived at were presented and assessed.


the threat posed by drones, whether they are simply being misused or whether they are hostile (particularly as part of NATO’s Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work).

“A follow-on counter UAS exercise will be held in November this year,” concludes Ndoni. “We thank all those who participated in the challenge, and we are looking forward to meeting them and others in our next challenge.”

THE WINNERS CERTH ITI VARlab proposed a tracker based on machinelearning technologies Defence Science & Technology Laboratories used open-source tracking and data-fusion techniques CERTH ITI Visual Computing Lab used techniques including the Hungarian algorithm to solve the data association problem Horizon Lab scored high in the Mean Root Square Error parameter used in ranking



INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE includes mobile devices, monitors and peripherals, as well as stationary computing solutions. A particular focus of our product catalogue is IT security and associated TEMPEST products. With six TEMPEST engineers and 19 TEMPEST technicians, our partner, GBS, has a comprehensive competence team available with many years of experience, able to execute technically demanding and challenging projects in the shortest of timeframes.

Mario Hempel Business Director NATO, Bechtle

How will the recent agreement to supply devices continue to enhance NATO capabilities? Since 2017, Bechtle has supported the NCI Agency as a trusted partner with two IT modernization contracts – ITM WP2 and Horizon 3. We are pleased that this successful partnership continues with the current e-FIT contract. The purpose of this contract is to create a framework that enables frequent and rapid transactions of client end-user equipment and related support from our product catalogue, which includes a wide range of end-user equipment provided to the recipients by the NCI Agency. In addition to NATO as a whole, the beneficiaries also include Member States’ defence ministries. We are advising the Agency on all technical aspects of the Agency’s future client infrastructure, including the selection and certification of all technical components and equipment for COTS and TEMPEST products.

What sort of devices are covered and how are they being integrated into the NATO network? In principle, the contract covers the entire spectrum of client infrastructure. The product range that we offer

GBS operates four emanations test laboratories, recognized by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), and is also authorized to perform certification measurements and device-specific shortmeasurement procedures according to SDIP 27 Level A, B and C for all relevant workplace equipment covering systems and peripherals. The integration of the systems into existing NATO networks is a central part of our contract with the Alliance. With the help of security-cleared personnel, we are able to perform onsite rollouts and connect the systems we deliver to the NATO networks. Also, the pre-installation of NATO-specific images and the pre-configuration of devices is possible in our Bechtle facilities.

How is Bechtle working with the NCI Agency and other partners on the contract? On the NCI Agency side, we work closely with the procurement and logistics departments. They are our primary contact in managing the contract. As the contract holder, the NCI Agency acts as the link between NATO’s end customers and Bechtle as the supplier. We ensure that the product catalogue is always up to date and advise on the customers’ needs and how we can meet them, by adding new products and/or adjusting delivery schedules, for example.

On our side, our main partners are Dell and GBS TEMPEST & Service GmbH. Both companies are highly respected and well established within the defence sector. Naturally, the quality of their products and delivery capabilities meet the high standards demanded by the NCI Agency. Dell hardware forms the baseline for our COTS and TEMPEST products. TEMPEST is a highly complex IT niche within military and government organisations, and only a few companies have the technical resources, know-how, expertise and required national accreditation and certification to provide these highly secure systems in such a short time frame.

Which other security/ military organizations does Bechtle support? Bechtle has been a partner to various armed forces and security authorities for many years, delivering hardware and services. National and international security authorities – such as the Austrian, Dutch, German and Swiss Armies – rank among our customers and benefit from our branch-specific know-how and experience. Our commitment to the German Armed Forces deserves special mention. For many years, we have been a partner for the design, procurement, delivery and integration of IT hardware. As with the NCI Agency, our success in this is thanks to the strategic partnership with GBS TEMPEST & Service GmbH, which has been in existence for over 10 years.

Partner for NATO. Service Provider for e-FIT. Bechtle AG. As leading B2B IT provider, Bechtle has some 70 systems integrators in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as e-commerce subsidiaries across Europe – a blend of IT sales and services that is truly unique at this scale. First established in 1983, Bechtle has been on an upwards trajectory ever since. Over 70,000 customers from diverse businesses within the industrial, service and public sectors rely on the expertise of Bechtle’s employees and the combined strength of the Bechtle Group. More than 10,000 people are committed to writing Bechtle’s success story everyday. Bechtle has been listed on the stock exchange since 2000 and is listed in the MDAX and TecDAX indexes. In 2020, the group generated revenues of around 5,8 billion euros.

e-FIT Framework Contract – Provision of COTS IT Hardware and associated support. Since May 2021, Bechtle has been the contract holder of the NCIA framework contract „e-FIT“. Through this contract, NATO customers can purchase client end-user equipment and associated services. Our product catalog includes, among others:

� COTS IT hardware. � TEMPEST hardware acc. to NATO Standard SDIP 27 Level A, B and C.

� Services (logistics, roll-out, imaging, support). For further information please contact us by mail to „“.

GBS TEMPEST & Service GmbH. Based in Diepholz, Lower Saxony, Germany, the GBS owns and operates four inhouse emanations test laboratories recognized by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). The GBS is authorized to perform certification measurements and short-measurement procedures according to the German zoning model (national) as well as to perform certification measurements and short-measurement procedures according to SDIP 27 Level A, B and C. Furthermore, the GBS has a comprehensive competence team available which consists of highly skilled TEMPEST engineers and TEMPEST technicians with many years of experience. In addition, the GBS is maintaining a certified Quality Management System according to ISO 9001:2015.

Your strong IT-partner. Today and tomorrow.






NATO is preparing for a paradigm shift ushered in by the rapid switch in working practices brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Jean-Paul Massart, Head of the NCI Agency’s NATO Digital Workplace Programme, is managing the transition. Ann Rogers reports

When COVID-19 restrictions forced everyone to leave NATO headquarters in Brussels in March 2020, it was a problem for an organization built on political consultation. “Consultation is what brings this Alliance together,” says Jean-Paul Massart, Head of the NCI Agency’s NATO Digital Workplace Programme. “Article IV of the Washington Treaty is about Consultation and the Nations coming together, working through problems.” So the need to stay connected was urgent.


“In the beginning we were just surviving, patching things together, finding quick solutions, quick wins for everybody to be able to work from home to meet NATO’s consultative needs digitally. What surprised me were the efforts people took to solve their immediate problems with creative solutions –



the ingenuity and creativity of people and staff to just get the job done and connect with each other.” This ingenuity came at some cost, however. While ad-hoc adaption solved the immediate problems, many of the off-the-shelf collaboration tools were not compatible with NATO’s ongoing needs and created a fragmented workplace. So, in October 2020, Massart was tasked by the NCI Agency’s General Manager to “jump ‘feet first’ into the chaos, undo the fragmentation and come up with enterprise solutions that are supported for safe and secure consultations. And then take it to the next level, that is to say digital collaboration” he explains.

BUILDING A DIGITAL WORKPLACE “Collaboration is a human behaviour. We know how to do this face to face, but collaborating in a digital way is different. Running

The future NATO workforce will require different tools and capabilities to carry out their work

have never used these tools before, and some of the people that were not brought up with these kinds of tools have had to really get going and learn and appreciate what is happening here.“ Massart’s team developed a framework of use cases and set about finding out the technological, security and training requirements. “We broke the problems down

“Consultation is what brings the Alliance together”


meetings is different. Writing documents together is different,” says Massart. He needed a holistic approach that addressed what he describes as “an enormous spectrum of collaboration needs – Ambassadors talking to the Secretary General; staff officers talking to each other; formal committee meetings; department heads talking to their staff; people sitting together trying to get a document written and agreed. This was harder than we thought it was going to be. It’s not just about technology; you have to make sure that the technology fits with human behaviours. Many people

into blocks, and then tried to find solutions for each of the scenarios,” says Massart. “Industry was forward-leaning, working with us. They really rolled up their sleeves and helped us with their expertise. “Now we are defining the new normal. Half the people are in the office and half are at home, and we have to make that work. The old ways of doing things – from providing translation services to networking around the coffee machine – must somehow take place digitally. What we’re trying to build is what I call the ‘Digital Toolbox’, because there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.”

The pandemic has accelerated a paradigm shift within NATO. Some of the changes are subtle, but important. For example, digital meetings work very differently from those that are face to face. In a physical space, status can be signalled through seating arrangements, but, on computer screens, you’re seeing something less hierarchical. In our digital world, in this mosaic of pictures, there is no seating order. Massart anticipates that in the Digital Workplace of the not-too-distant future, these modalities will nudge NATO into a different paradigm that is more lateral and flattened, where people connect, communicate and collaborate. “The demographics are also changing. By 2025, 70% of the NATO workforce will be Millennials, so we had better adapt,” he says. “They need different capabilities, they’re accustomed to different tools, and so we need to make sure as leaders that we recognise that they’re going to be wanting different things from us to do their jobs.” “My ambition,” says Massart, “is to truly enable a NATO Digital Workplace by adding new services and really creating a cultural shift in NATO, a digital #OneNATO, while remembering that this is about people, not just technology.”




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With the drawdown of the Resolute Support mission, David Jenkins, the former NCI Agency Representative in Afghanistan, and Nicholas Labsvirs, NCI Agency Senior Scientist, Operational Analysis, tell Michael Linennen about the crucial role that the Agency played in processing and analysing data from the operational headquarters




An NCI Agency scientist forms part of the team that analyses data to enable betterinformed command decisions in Afghanistan (PHOTO: US ARMY/SPC AUSTIN BOUCHER)

help identify patterns and trends that inform the commander’s planning at an operational level. “The idea of a PMR assessment is that you need the evidence to back up the claims within the assessment,” Labsvirs explains. “An example of this would be looking at how attacks change over time. We can look at historical data and identify trends or patterns in enemy tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) and compare them with how they’ve generally operated.”


For the past few years, the NCI Agency’s Operational Analysis (OA) service line has deployed a scientist to Afghanistan to be part of the Resolute Support (RS) Mission data-assessment and analysis group on a rotational basis. The team analyses data to inform strategic assessment and help commanders make better decisions. This spring, it was Senior Scientist Nicholas Labsvirs’s turn to deploy to Afghanistan one last time, before the drawdown. This was his sixth deployment to Afghanistan.

DATA INTEGRITY Data is one of the world’s most valuable assets. With the right information, the right tools and the right expertise, commanders can make better decisions. In an operational environment, every piece of information is crucial. One small detail can make a huge difference. “Some of my colleagues have been deploying here as early as 2011 as part of the same team,” says Labsvirs. “We know all the ideas that have been tried before, whether they were good or bad ideas, and why some of them did not work out.”

Having analysts in Afghanistan working alongside commanders was critical. Moreover, an NCI Agency scientist is able to coordinate support from the Agency’s OA service line in The Hague, Netherlands. “When one of us deployed, it was not just one person they were getting. They were essentially getting the whole team back in the Netherlands to support the mission as we have the capability to exchange information back and forth with The Hague,” Labsvirs explains.

One of the team’s assignments was conducting a periodic mission review (PMR) for the RS mission. It focused on analysing historical and statistical data to

NCI Agency personnel not only had to work with data on a classified secured network, they also had to maintain a high level of data integrity in a low-tech operational environment by advising the mission on how to make best use of the data. “What we do in an operational theatre is very dependent on the data, it’s all about data quality. Through being located in theatre, we have a better handle on that,” says Labsvirs. “We recently pulled



together different people with an interest in data from across different parts of the RS mission to talk about emerging issues and how to meet any new requirements coming from the commander.” Helping to maintain data integrity makes the Agency’s operational analysis work more important. Even though the data itself can limit the type of analysis they can do, Agency experts understand the data sufficiently to be able to determine how it should be used. “I think you have to be honest with your data and assumptions. Sometimes you are working in an environment where you can’t just go out and get better quality data, so it’s important to know what you can and can’t do with the available data. In order to inform decisions, analysts should always communicate the strengths and limitations of the underlying data as well as any valuable insights it provides.”

(CCIR) and Friendly Forces Information Requirements (FFIR). It then gets compartmentalized and refined to the information requirements of the commander for that given 24-hour period. This process of filtering needs to happen in theatre, in close proximity to the Commander and his staff.”

“First, you’ve got immense repositories of real-time data flowing in every minute, of every hour of every day,” explains Jenkins. “This requires filtering out everything that you don’t need, then it becomes a smaller subset of data that needs to be analysed according to the Commander’s Critical Information Requirements

Jenkins adds that AI can potentially help comb through huge amounts of data in seconds, instead of depending on humans to perform this role, if set against algorithms supporting the commander’s elements of essential information. However, there are potential challenges with implementing it on the mission network. “We’re relying on several different types of intelligence that need to come together to form an intelligence assessment. Many of our most important feeds come down through highly classified systems,” says Jenkins. “There’s a tremendous level of other relevant information that’s out there that could both validate and add invaluable context to a commander’s essential information requirement that’s on the internet. This expansive repository of data could come together through an artificial intelligence platform if it were capable of being mined. The problem is, today, we don’t have a crossdomain AI platform that could do this at the speed at which it’s needed.”

Various types of intelligence and data were brought together to provide troops with an accurate picture of their environment (PHOTO: SGT. CANAAN RADCLIFFE/DIVIDS)

AI has the potential to make some processes faster, however there are potential barriers restricting its implementation on operational data on secure networks. This further emphasizes the importance of the NCI Agency’s support to missions and operations. “In a military environment, you’re talking about decisions where lives are on the line,” Labsvirs highlights. “The fact that we understand the data makes it more important for us to say, ‘this is how it should be used’.”

A great example of this is the analytical dashboards that the NCI Agency developed for Resolute Support. These dashboards were used by forces both inside and outside of Afghanistan. They enabled users to visualize operational data by creating charts and maps. “Theoretically, everyone knows how to get the data in some format, but, by developing the dashboards, we made that process


a lot easier. These dashboards structure the way that you can get this information. They use the same language as the official RS definition.” It is important to filter the data to make it useful and available for decision-makers and commanders at any given time, so having an official RS definition helps structure unfiltered data.

PROCESSING THE DATA “Right now, it’s not artificial intelligence but human intelligence that has to process all that information,” says David Jenkins, former NCI Agency representative in Afghanistan. “I’m amazed every day how much data gets transformed into information and then briefed to the commander by human beings.” Jenkins was in charge of delivering information technology services, providing information platforms and delivering functional application services on the Afghanistan Mission Network (AMN).




Ezme Bushell asks Cristian Coman, Principal Scientist, Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JISR) at the NCI Agency, about the NABIS ‘Ping and Ring’ system, built to gather biometrics data

Q Firstly, what is NABIS? The NATO Automated Biometric Identification System (NABIS) is a biometrics database system that we have been working on over the past six years. We, the NABIS team, refer to ourselves as plumbers, setting up the piping, the flow of information and the infrastructure, allowing NATO nations to manage and own the transfer of their data.


NABIS was created to mostly support interoperability activities and facilitate the exchange of biometrics data between nations. NABIS can receive biometrics data from multiple sources and in multiple formats

(images, enrolment files such as mobile phones or specialized computer etc) including the NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG 4715) format. This format is based on a technical agreement that specifies how to store, specifically, ‘biometrics images in text information’, to improve interoperability so biometrics data can be shared more efficiently. NABIS was developed by the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) through the Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT POW) managed by NATO Headquarters’ Emerging Security Challenges Division, and is now being tested by the NATO user community in Kosovo.



Q How is biometric data used in NABIS? The key principle behind biometrics is that any person can (almost) uniquely be associated with some of their biological or behavioural characteristics. These biological and behavioural characteristics are commonly referred to as biometrics. The comparison (or matching) of biometric records is at the core of the biometrics process; hence, we built a system called NABIS for collecting and processing biometric data. The advances in biometric technology have contributed to the expansion of this field into the military domain.


A scientist from the European Union’s JDEAL (Joint Deployable Exploitation and Analysis Laboratory) team processes biometrics data that was later used in NATO’s Unified Vision 2018 Exercise (PHOTO: NCI AGENCY)

Biometric modalities includes pictures of the face, images of the iris and fingerprints, genetic code (DNA) and voice. For NABIS, we mainly use face, fingerprints and iris recognition. Three common uses of NABIS are defined in the NATO Biometrics Framework Policy, which provides operational guidance and procedures on how to run biometric operations. The system can be used: • Within NATO Joint Operations Areas (JOAs) (eg to identify enemies and remove anonymity from enemies); • Between JOAs (eg Afghanistan and Kosovo); • To share data beyond operations (takes into account the United Nations resolution to share this informaiton with domestic law enforcement and counter-terrorism entities consistent with domestic and international law, including human-rights law).


In 2020, we deployed the NABIS system in the NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo, known as KFOR (Kosovo Force), to display how



How does the NABIS ‘Ping and Ring’ system work?

the ‘Ping and Ring’ system works in an operational environment. This ‘Ping and Ring’ is a concept that NATO has adopted into NABIS. Each country collects their own biometric data that is stored in national databases, not a centrally stored repository. However, all NATO nations have the right to ask about the data that other NATO nations own. For example, a NATO mission may send out a ‘Ping’ to fellow nations, running a request for a person against the data others are storing. If it leads to a match, the requestor is informed by the respective nation and access to the data is provided, as per data-sharing agreements. The ‘Ping and Ring’ concept originates in earlier procedures for exchanging biometrics data. In the past, we would send a picture or a fingerprint of someone to a nation (‘Ping’) and ask if they had any information. If it was a positive match, we would receive a reply and would then have to pick up the phone, and ‘Ring’ the owner of the data to establish a joint interest in the person we were searching for. This was a problematic approach, as it removed the ability for us to automate sharing of some parts of the information. With the new ‘Ping and Ring’ approach, we still maintain the option to ‘Ring’ the owner of the data and request additional details (eg derogatory information, which are comments presented on a subject, like a suspected criminal etc) but allow for an automated response to be sent to requester with the minimum releasable information (e.g. match/no-match). In practice, this is implemented in NABIS using services adopted from an industry-provided solution. Another particularity of the NATO ‘Ping and Ring’ is that it is a distributed mechanism, which means it does not depend on a centralized data broker: each participant in the ‘Ping and Ring’ network will implement and manage their own communication with other participants. This is yet another important aspect of NATO biometrics policy, where the nations retain full control of the data and the distribution of this data. Last year, we demonstrated the ‘Ring and Ping’ system in KFOR. It was a successful exercise and we requested for the Command, Control and Communication (C3) Board to approve NABIS as an operational prototype in KFOR, allowing us to maintain NABIS in KFOR beyond the interoperability experimentation period. There has been a positive reaction from KFOR and NATO Headquarters surrounding the deployment of NABIS, but approval is still pending. We have shown how NATO’s ‘Ping and Ring’ system enables the Alliance to share biometric data.

We started the NABIS project in 2014 and, since then, we have increased interoperability across nations. On top of our prototype in Kosovo, we have participated with biometrics in multiple NATO trials and exercises (eg NATO’s Joint Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance’s Unified Vision series). Last year, we started a new biometric exercise called Northern Spirit. This year, it will be executed in conjunction with an Explosive Ordnance Disposal/Improvised Explosive Device Defeat (EOD/IEDD) Northern Challenge, organized by the Icelandic Coast Guard under the Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work. The goal of this exercise is to test interoperability, both at the operational and technical levels, in a scenario simulating NATO-led operations. NABIS and other similar automated biometric identification systems provided by the nations will be connected in a ‘Ping and Ring’ configuration to test the standardization format. Participants will be given the opportunity to exercise the collection, storage, exploitation, dissemination and reporting of biometric information in the context of maritime and land operations. In addition, the exercise will challenge the participants in performing basic Identity Intelligence (I2) analysis for countering an ‘anonymous threat’.


We want to use NABIS as a reference interoperability tool and capability gap-filler – for example, if a NATO mission is lacking such capability, we can employ NABIS for a certain period of time until an industrial solution can be found. NABIS is also useful for non-NATO nationals who want to be employed by NATO in a deployed area, as it can be used to support background checks on people, before they can then be employed on a military base. We hope to deploy NABIS to other NATO missions (eg Iraq) in the foreseeable future.


How can NABIS benefit other NATO nations?

NABIS implements NATO standards and is available for free to all NATO nations. We currently have six nations that have requested the use of NABIS and will begin implementation and testing soon.


While plenty of NATO nations want to develop their biometric capabilities, many nations do not have the

infrastructure/resources to implement a biometrics database. We are in permanent contact with all those who are interested and we have a biometrics working group in NATO, which meets four times a year. We encourage the use of NABIS and offer to support all interested NATO nations.


What are the next steps for NABIS?

We all gain biometric insight through the sharing of data in NABIS. Supporting interoperability will remain the main line of effort in the future development of this sytem. With the KFOR demonstration, we are one step closer to supporting operations. A request was submitted to the NATO Communications, Command and Control Board to endorse NABIS as an operational prototype and deployment as an interim solution, when and where required by the NATO operational community.


Training aspects will be improved by developing a computer-based training (CBT) package, and we will continue to participate in biometric exercises to improve both operational and technical interoperability. I joined NATO in 2006 and I have been with the JISR team working on various projects since. Biometrics, however, has been part of all roles throughout my time at NATO. It is very important to me and to the future of the organization. Biometrics and NABIS are key to the military success of NATO and our partnering nations. A Dutch soldier analyses fingerprints on a mobile device as part of the NATO Exercise Unified Vision in 2018 in the east of the Netherlands (PHOTO: NCI AGENCY)


Q How can NABIS benefit NATO?
































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Major Keith Lambert (US Army), Commander Jeffrey Wilcox (US Navy) and Captain Antun Mutzhaus (Croatian Army) explain to Alan Dron how the NCI Agency underpins the Alliance’s largest exercise with secure and reliable networks


NATO’s largest exercise for 2021, Steadfast Defender, took place this spring and early summer on both sides of the North Atlantic and at locations throughout Europe. For the past year, NCI Agency staff have been working behind the scenes to ensure that ‘boots on the ground’ were backed up with secure communications and infrastructure. Steadfast Defender consisted of several sections: Part 1 saw transatlantic reinforcements heading from the United States to Europe, while Part 2 covered the planning coordination of onward movement once the troops arrived. Part 3 was the live exercise and its largest section, Exercise Noble Jump. Noble Jump tested the activation of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), its collaborative deployment planning, and the readiness and mounting functions for the VJTF. Around 4,000 troops took part in Noble Jump.

COMMITMENT TO COLLECTIVE DEFENCE NATO exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 consisted of several sections taking place during spring and summer (PHOTO: NATO)

The exercise aimed to demonstrate NATO’s commitment to collective defence, as well as the Alliance’s continued adaptation to the

complex and unpredictable security environment. Importantly, it sought to prove the interoperability between the three NATO Joint Force HQs and the Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) – based in Ulm, Germany – with the latter also testing its coordination role in the exercise. Steadfast Defender 2021 was the first in a new series of NATO-led exercises that brings together multiple activities, with the aim of ensuring that the Alliance’s forces are effectively trained and interoperable, possessing the capability to respond to threats from any direction. As a defensive exercise, it trains and evaluates several NATO Command and Force Structure headquarters, including Joint Force Command (JFC) Norfolk – based in Virginia, US – to buttress the vital transatlantic links that contribute to Allied security. JFC Norfolk achieved initial operational capability last September and should attain full operational capability at the end of this year. In Steadfast Defender, it took on a core coordinating role in assuring the security of the Strategic Lines of Communication across the Atlantic, through the Greenland-Iceland-UK gap and into the Arctic.



Additionally, the exercise provided Allied nations with the opportunity to participate with forces at all readiness levels and move them throughout Europe. Steadfast Defender takes place every three years, and in early 2020 the NCI Agency was brought in to support the 2021 edition. The initial question was how it could best do so. Following talks between Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the NCI Agency’s General Manager, it became apparent that the Agency’s role would be larger than initially envisaged. Most notably, it would also take in the seaborne aspect of the exercise, as well as that on land.

DELIVERING NETWORK SOLUTIONS The NCI Agency supported the static mission and communications. “During the live exercise, the NCI Agency had a cell consisting of subject-matter experts from various service lines,” explains Major Keith Lambert, US Army, lead project manager for Steadfast Defender 21. “Their main role was quick response in tracking any network incidents submitted through the centralized service desk. The NCI Agency was able promptly to react and fix any problem.”


Soldiers from Italy and Romania discuss tactics during Steadfast Defender 2021 (PHOTO: NATO)

Given the scale of Steadfast Defender, all NCI Agency service lines were involved in helping to provide support. Captain Antun Mutzhaus of the Croatian Army, deputy project manager, worked with those service lines to ensure that the necessary support got to where it was required. The various service lines were responsible for areas including networking and infrastructure, cyber security and command-and-control activities. “When you combine all of these service lines, you will have major NCI Agency support, in the sense of leveraging the entire IT capability,” says Captain Mutzhaus. “They delivered network solutions. The Agency adapted for any requirements from the customer’s battlefield situation. “The NCI Agency was mostly involved in preparing conditions for the exercise and to track and ensure

a reliable and secure network environment.” Just how many people have been involved in helping prepare for this exercise over the past year is difficult to quantify, but it has been “significant”, he confirms.

STAYING ADAPTABLE During the exercise, the NCI Agency had a contingency budget to handle any unforeseen problems that cropped up, adds Commander Jeffrey Wilcox, US Navy, the assistant project manager: “IT services are always a moving target. You can’t plan for everything, but we strive to maintain the flexibility to adapt to problems as they emerge.” However, the NCI Agency’s preparations meant that, when unexpected situations arose, Agency staff were ready to handle them.






Over 9,000 troops from more than 20 NATO Allies and partners

North American troops crossing the Atlantic, moving across Europe and exercising with European NATO Allies

From May to June 2021

The majority of the exercise took place in Germany, Portugal and Romania

To improve Allied forces’ ability to move quickly across the Atlantic and Europe to protect each other, if needed

NCI Agency Legal Adviser Sujin Chan-Allen tells Simon Michell why the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) requires constant vigilance to ensure that it is not introducing bias, unfairness and unlawful outcomes




Why does AI implementation have an ethical dimension?

The use of AI can generate significant benefits for individuals and society, but its risks must be properly minimized and managed. Consequently, a human-centric approach should underpin AI activities, focusing on such elements as: the respect of fundamental rights, applicable laws, ethical purposes and, above all, the avoidance of unintentional harm.





Reliance on AI has permeated through virtually all aspects of our lives. It has an increasingly powerful impact on daily activities, in autonomous vehicles, healthcare diagnosis and education, as well as cyber security and defence. The ethical dimension features at many stages of AI development and implementation – processes that are closely linked in machine learning. We need to ensure that datasets collected for training systems do not violate user privacy or autonomy. When testing the tools, it is necessary to ensure that individuals (the general public, test subjects) are not exposed to unacceptable risks. There are also risks of over-reliance on AI – such as over-reliance on imperfect datasets leading to inaccurate or biased results, or even errors in life-and-death decisions. Finally, there is the risk that extreme deployment of AI could massively impact critical infrastructure.

NATO policy makers need to be aware of the potential ethical implications that AI can introduce (PHOTO: NATO)


What are the main human biases from which AI algorithms can suffer?

Bias can infiltrate algorithms in numerous forms and result in unfair decisions. Algorithmic bias in AI systems can take varied forms, such as gender bias, racial prejudice and age discrimination. Human developers or programmers are influenced in their decision-making, based on background, life experience, training etc.


But, even if sensitive variables such as gender, ethnicity or sexual identity are excluded, AI systems learn to make decisions based on training data, which may contain skewed human decisions or represent historical or social inequities. Any organization or company should be profoundly aware of these threats and seek to minimize them as an urgent priority when looking to deploy AI solutions.


Why do these biases matter for an organization such as the NCI Agency?

The NCI Agency faces the same challenges as most other organizations that implement AI. The richness of diversity among NATO nations means that bias in AI implementation could potentially affect the functioning of our systems, and impact on our operations. We need to be acutely aware of the possibility of biases, because we are involved in decisions affecting international security. For example, we need to ensure that our choices do not negatively impact our mission or undermine our responsibilities under international and humanitarian law.


What is the NCI Agency doing Q to ensure that the AI algorithms it uses are fair and unbiased? The NCI Agency pursues data science activities, whether in-house or through procurement from industry, and as NATO’s CIS service provider, it generates large amounts of data. All data science activities within the Agency are governed by NATO Civilian Personnel Regulations, the NATO-wide Code of Conduct and NCI Agency Guidance for Privileged Users of CIS.


In the Agency, we need to be scrupulous about the data that we use, we need to make sure that we understand the data that we use, and we need to continue to bring deep subject-matter expertise about how AI machine


NATO faces similar ethical challenges to all other international organizations when implementing AI algorithms (PHOTO: NATO)

“Bias can infiltrate algorithms in numerous forms and result in unfair decisions” learning models work. We also need to continue to test and validate our results. To avoid bias in AI, we need to be diverse in terms of race, gender, age, experience, culture and nationality, among other things. AI implementation through diverse teams helps to ensure that the right questions are asked in the early stages of development and that problems are addressed ahead of implementation. It is important that end users are given an opportunity to provide feedback on what might have been missed, in order to facilitate the continuous optimization of our systems. It is also essential to introduce and/or enhance robust training programmes to inform individuals of their unconscious biases. An added benefit to this sort of education syllabus would be that it is very likely to reinforce our values in diversity and inclusion more generally.




Prof. Dr. Haluk Görgün Chairman, President and CEO, ASELSAN

Could you highlight ASELSAN’s air defence capabilities and your ongoing activities in NATO? With more than 25 years’ experience in the field of air defence, we offer comprehensive short- to long-range solutions. We assign utmost importance in attending NATO exercises, where interoperability and standardization are aimed among all nations. Within this scope, ASELSAN participated in the CWIX exercise, which is one of the essential NATO exercises in the air defence command and control (C2) doctrine. Moreover, we are also preparing to participate in the NATO C-UAS Technical Interoperability Exercise, which is planned to be conducted in the Netherlands in November 2021. We believe these exercises are indispensable for the future of C2 system integrations among NATO members to counter emerging common threats.

You won the NCI Agency’s Defence Innovation Challenge 2020 with two different systems. How important was this award? It is valuable for us to strengthen our partnership with NATO, while supporting the Alliance to achieve

superior forces overall. In this context, we participated in the prestigious Defence Innovation Challenge, where we competed with very innovative ideas. Winning this competition with two different solutions was a very proud moment for us, knowing that our solutions can play an essential role in the near future for our collective security. Our target is to support the NATO Alliance to extend its C2 capabilities and mission coordination to the maximum operational level.

What are the distinguishing elements in these systems? ASELSAN has developed A-FACT and AI-Operator solutions that perform situational awareness in air defence with their unique algorithms. A-FACT not only eradicates the weaknesses

Our other winning solution – the AI-Operator – basically relieves the radar operator from the burden of manually determining the optimum parameters for each radar on the entire radar network. Additionally, AI-Operator adjusts the radar parameters at speed and with accuracy, which cannot be manually achieved by any human operator. We observed a considerable increase in performance in the AI-assisted radars on our simulation tools, and, as a result, implemented this technology on one of our newest radars.

What is your future plan for NATO projects? We start every new day with new ideas and dreams that encourage us to challenge technology boundaries.

“It is valuable for us to strengthen our partnership with NATO, while supporting the Alliance to achieve superior forces overall” caused by radars that could lead to idle stance in the operational area, but also introduces the radar capabilities that are not currently included in the NATO radar network. In addition to creating a standard intelligent and dynamic air picture, A-FACT allows correlation and integration of both 2D and 3D radars simultaneously in the same architecture. This, in turn, creates a combined air picture, even within a densely cluttered environment, while managing the airspace. Moreover, it ensures the successful completion of operations by providing continuity against manoeuvring targets with its dynamic and adaptive motion modelling – a feat which is considered to be one of today’s most challenging tasks.

Striving for a better planet is our constant and enduring motivation. With a never-ending contribution towards global safety and security, we support the Alliance with true dedication as a trusted partner. As a long-lasting NATO solutionprovider, we are closely following Alliance requirements. We intend to continue our achievements by putting forward our value propositions in line with the operational requirements set forth within upcoming competitions.


Luis Bastos, Principal Scientist at the NCI Agency, explains the context of 5G as an emerging and disruptive technology that is driving a number of new technologies and applications. He also addresses how NATO and nations can benefit from it in day-to-day activities and operations and their associated challenges


As part of its mission, the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) supports NATO transformation and innovation, including assessing technologies and developing innovative concepts to better perform NATO’s mission and maintain its technological edge. As an innovation activity, supported by NATO C3 (command, control, and communication) Staff and Allied Command Transformation’s programmes of work, a talented team in the Agency is investigating the potential of

5G for military applications. The Agency is also developing an ambitious multinational collaboration project in the field with nations, known as MN5G. 5G will not only revolutionise society as a whole, raising a number of challenges and concerns in multiple areas on the way, but will also bring many opportunities for the military. Exploiting those opportunities is challenging and requires significant effort over the long term.

5G is the fifth generation of international mobile telecommunications (IMT) technologies that underpin terrestrial cellular mobile communications. Typically, new generations of IMT technologies are introduced every 10 years, each providing significant improvements and structural changes over the previous generation. 4G, for example, introduced mobile broadband internet access. 5G is being developed under a new approach and with a broad ambition (the IMT-2020 Vision), which aims at bringing the internet to wider society. It is not just about faster mobile internet; it is about the totality of communications requirements of a host of different users. These include vehicles, gamers, health systems, industry, safety/emergency services etc. Furthermore, contrary to previous generations, 5G is being developed collaboratively by industry verticals

(very different stakeholders with a common interest in 5G) representing different user communities, with this effort encompassing all the enabling elements. A common misconception is that 5G is a ‘thing’ to be implemented by network operators. It is not. It is a rich ecosystem with many options and dimensions that are in constant evolution. So far, the current implementations of 5G only address the enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) usage scenario. Solutions to enable applications such as vehicular communications, augmented reality, control of critical infrastructure, industrial applications and the ubiquitous Internet of Things will be developed and implemented progressively. To do this, 5G brings a number of new groundbreaking technologies and features to the table, which in turn provide opportunities for many interested communities, including the military.







introduced proprietary cellular mobile analogue voice communications


introduced interoperability, digital communications and simple text messaging


introduced multimedia services and basic internet access


introduced mobile broadband internet access


aims to provide the internet to society, addressing diverse usage scenarios

OPPORTUNITIES IN 5G FOR THE MILITARY 5G technologies bring new opportunities to military users in the following areas: Interoperability: using 5G waveforms and systems as a common denominator in coalition operations or in civil/military operations; Capability development: using or deploying 5G technologies and/or systems to provide augmentation and cost-effective military capabilities to NATO and nations; Resilience: using private and public 5G systems for seamless transition between corporate IT and on-the-go connectivity, among other applications. In addition, owing to the open approach to 5G specification and development, NATO and nations have a unique opportunity to pool their efforts, participate in and influence the continual development of 5G, so that its specifications and standards can also cater for military requirements.



The NCI Agency’s work on 5G started in 2019 with an independent analysis of 5G technologies and features which might offer opportunities for the military in different contexts. This analysis included the development of reference scenarios in different military application domains such as deployed CIS for expeditionary operations, tactical operations, maritime operations and static communications. For each scenario, the Agency developed different 5G-based

technical concepts (system designs). Each concept considers the use of 5G in different ways, for example using private 5G systems or public 5G networks. The Agency then engaged with the wider community to share and discuss these results – NATO bodies, NATO nations, industry and academia. These discussions confirmed the potential of 5G technologies for military use, despite the associated challenges and the immaturity of many concepts. Without doubt, it has generated the interest of NATO and nations. In terms of technical work, the current focus is on maintaining a NATO technology watch on 5G and further assessing its potential to support NATO

5G specification and standardization forums, which effectively precludes them from being able to influence the evolution of 5G. Secondly, current work in this area is being conducted in isolation by disparate communities (nations, intergovernmental organizations and industry) each addressing topics differently. This disparity impedes the emergence of an enabling market of 5G-based military products and applications, which in turn prevents the military from realizing the aforementioned benefits. The NCI Agency believes that there is significant work involved in transforming the opportunities of 5G into tangible benefits for military users, and that, only via concerted efforts between NATO and the nations, can critical mass be achieved, and tangible results be obtained.


“5G will not only revolutionise society as a whole... but will also bring many opportunities for the military”

LOOKING FORWARD NATO and nations are at a crossroads with regard to 5G: 5G will be dominating future civil telecommunications networks and societies NATO and national policymakers need to stay abreast of this technology and of its characteristics for informed decision-making. However, the technology is complex and is evolving very rapidly; NATO and national capability development can benefit significantly from 5G technologies However, there are significant efforts involved in developing and maturing those concepts;

US Marine Corps operate the Instant Eye Small Unmanned Air System, which relies on 5G communications technology (PHOTOS: CPL TIMOTHY LUTZ, DIVIDS)

expeditionary operations and maritime communications. In parallel, the Agency is also facilitating the establishment of a multinational project (MN5G) to exploit 5G’s potential for military applications, including effectively following and influencing the development of 5G standards to cater for military interests.

NATO and the nations are interested in cooperating on the development of military applications of 5G However, putting together a multinational effort is a complex task that may not be compatible with the speed of 5G evolution.


The NCI Agency can support NATO and the nations in a combined effort to inform and influence 5G development (including on security aspects) and develop 5G-based military concepts and architectures. That effort is being established by Alliance nations and the Agency under the multinational MN5G initiative. Despite the undoubted challenges, the Agency wholeheartedly supports these efforts and the prospects are looking good.

Although 5G’s potential for military applications has been demonstrated and is now acknowledged, there are two main challenges involved in exploiting that potential. Firstly, military stakeholders are not currently represented at key

Additional information about the MN5G initiative is available through the QR code to the right

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Philippe Agard

Ken Spruyt

Global head of Defence Market segment, Nokia

NATO Account Director, Nokia

What services does Nokia deliver to NATO and how do they enhance the organization’s capability?

this domain and we are eager to keep on working with the NCI Agency on some of its programmes.

Ken Spruyt: Many people associate Nokia with mobile-phone manufacture, but we have a long history of providing networks and network technology going back decades. Consequently, we have a significant footprint in the serviceprovider sector and across industry in general.

Technology is central to our response. Thanks to our leadership position in not just Private 4G and 5G wireless, but also mission-critical optics and internet protocol (IP)/multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) offerings worldwide, we are very well placed. We are not complacent, though. Nokia is constantly innovating with new technologies and applications, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and embedded security. And, let’s not forget, Nokia is also at the forefront of the race to develop 6G.

This gives us a very significant presence on all Alliance Member States’ communications networks and NATO itself – both directly and indirectly. In addition, more than 1,300 industry customers use our communications technology for critical national infrastructure, in areas as diverse as public safety, defence, railways, power utilities and so on. With increasing international tensions and cyber security threats, the importance of having best-inclass C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems to keep a strategic advantage is more crucial than ever. NATO is very active in

Why is 5G significant to an organization such as NATO? Philippe Agard: The global defence community recognizes that the civilian ICT industry continues to innovate and make hugely significant technological developments. Over the past two decades, Nokia alone has invested more than 130 billion euros on communications R&D. If you look at what 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and 5G bring to the table, the breadth of innovation is enormous.

Without doubt, this can deliver incredible technological advantage, augmenting the existing radio technologies currently in use by the military. That said, 5G should not be seen purely as a radio technology, because it embraces a lot of innovation in the core and across the full end-toend communication scenario. It encompasses network function virtualization, the cloud and mobile edge computing, to name but a few aspects of its undoubted changes. It really is a transformational technology and I think the defence sector understands that it can benefit hugely from 5G. 5G offers much more spectrum, and in our portfolio we have 5G radios ranging from 600 MHz up to 28GHz, providing a huge choice of 3GGP standardized spectrum solutions. Some of these bands overlap with what many NATO nations have allocated for defence applications, so they have options to benefit from these off-the-shelf radios. They could also decide to opt for another exciting 5G possibility – slicing. With slicing, a country’s ministry of defence could ask their service provider/telecom operator to offer them a slice of their network that is adapted exactly to their needs, thus creating a sort of fully isolated virtual network that could be applicable for a smart base. What I mean is, if, in some cases, they don’t want to go down the route of procuring a dedicated 5G network – or if they don’t have access to enough spectrum – they could request a slice of 5G that would give them a virtual 5G network of their own.

Are there any quick wins that 5G can offer the military community? Ken Spruyt: As you know, the military is developing a new concept of


operations, and military planners want to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as introduce autonomous systems on land, at sea and in the air. In short, they want to take full advantage of the benefits that AI, autonomy, machine learning and deep learning can bring to operations. At Nokia, we are confident that 5G has the potential to support them in leveraging all these new technologies as a kind of holistic network architecture underpinning all their systems. Another interesting quick win relates to the benefits that 5G can provide on military bases – the so-called ‘Smart Base’ concept. Nokia is heavily involved in similar developments across many industries. Here we can take some of the innovations that we bring to industry 4.0 and transfer them to the military. A great example of this is our project with the Finnish cargo handling experts, Kalmar, to introduce video and haptic (touch technology) feedback to crane operators to help them with more efficient and safer ship loading and unloading. Another example is at the ports of Bruges and Antwerp in Belgium, where we have successfully demonstrated 5G connectivity with a semi-autonomous vessel sailing between the two ports. We are also working on asset tracking, precise vehicle location and ship-toshore communications – all of these civil maritime applications are just as applicable for naval ports. It is incredibly transferable.

In the air domain, Nokia is helping Brussels Airport use beyond-line-ofsight unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), piloted via 4G, for runway inspections and perimeter security – again, this is well suited to military air bases. We are also working in Germany with Lufthansa, using augmented reality to improve aircraft maintenance activities.

What does it take to make this technology suitable for military uses? Philippe Agard: 5G provides an incredibly short response time (in other words, the time it takes for data to travel from point to point and back) and it handles multiple traffic types – voice, video, data, massive IoT... This is very good for things like Smart Bases, automation and autonomy. So, there is huge potential, but we need a deep dialogue with the military and defence sector to reveal 5G’s full potential to address their use cases. We know, for example, that there is a requirement to develop enhanced situational awareness for the military across all its operating domains: land, sea, air, space and cyber. 5G can play a vital role in achieving that, and Nokia already has experience with 4G in all these domains, I think we can use this experience and expertise to deliver 5G throughout the military, but we need to explore the ‘art of the possible’ together, through industry dialogue or initial 5G pilot projects. 4G is already

deployed in naval ships, army bases and homeland security use cases; 5G can augment this further. We understand that 4G and 5G will be a key building block of broader C4ISR systems. So, we have engagement with several defence contractors that have deep know-how of military usages and systems, to integrate our technology in a defence environment. For instance, one of these contractors has ruggedized some of our equipment to bring it to the field as a test-deployable communication system. When you look at the type of sensors that the military use, they are often proprietary, but they are all using transmission control protocol (TCP)/IP technology so we can run them on 5G networks. That would bring improved support and better interoperability between different forces. However, standard technology always has specific military needs, so we are working with multiple partners to make that happen. Nobody can do it on their own. Nokia is eager to engage further with military organizations that want to discover the potential of 5G and develop the right use case for them.


Utilizing AI and information sharing to protect against cyber intrusions

“Data today is monetized,” says Jean-François Agneessens, head of incident analysis and response section at the NATO Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). “Ransomware is used to extract payment to unencrypt data, while the exfiltrated information can be sold into the dark web.” As a result, the cyber threat to NATO from criminal gangs is similar to that experienced by any network infrastructure, and as prevalent as the threat from other state or state-sponsored actors.


Agneessens says it is important to distinguish between ‘tentative’ and ‘actual’ intrusions. Threats tend to be multilayered and start with a minor intrusion, followed by further breaches if allowed to progress unchecked, until the threat actor can establish persistence in the network. This is the reason why defence in depth is so important. A large part of the NCSC’s daily business involves identifying event

Jenny Beechener asks Jean-François Agneessens, head of incident analysis and response within the NATO Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), how the Alliance is using artificial intelligence (AI) to keep ahead of the cyber threat, while the NCI Agency’s Michaela Simakova highlights the benefits of sharing information to spread cyber resilience

anomalies or inconsistencies in the traffic flow, users and systems behaviour to prevent these tentative intrusions becoming real. NCSC believes artificial intelligence (AI) can help track the everincreasing volume of data and help to identify events undetected by humans. “The complexity of cyber-attacks is steadily increasing – it’s a moving target,” he says. The challenge grows as cloud-based services become more common, blurring lines of responsibility and removing national boundaries. NCSC has started to create a data lake as part of a wider programme to expand cyber-threat detection capability. “We need to have relevant information and be able to extract what we need to use in an AI algorithm, and it relies as much on data gathered on NATO networks as on external sources of information, provided by the private sector,” explains Agneessens. This includes

validating the information to avoid generating false positives. Once there is a record of what is normal, then AI can be used to help identify anomalies in the system – for example, looking for inconsistencies in the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) within a web address. “A machine can identify an unusual domain name relating to content similar to a legitimate company and alert to a phishing attempt, for example,” says Agneessens. Other activities include collecting and analysing data from Locked Shields cyber-defence exercises, and leveraging this to train detection algorithms to protect the real network. These activities come under the umbrella of the NCI Agency Capability Package 120 (CP120), the 70 million EUR phased upgrade of NATO information security systems through a series of capability enhancements between 2020 and 2024. To identify these capability initiatives, NCSC is working closely with the Agency’s Innovation and


Data Science team to define the technology needed to expand NATO’s cyber processing capability. The CP development pathway, however, is a process that typically takes several years to approve and deliver. Therefore, NCSC works in parallel with the private sector to accelerate cyber security capabilities and benefit from work already being addressed in this domain. “If the Agency is already using a capability from industry that subsequently were to become expanded with an AI module, it is likely we would use it. This means we don’t always have to wait for the capability package for some use cases.”

SHARING INFORMATION Following the launch of the NATO Cyber Industry Partnership (NCIP) in 2014, the NCI Agency has established dedicated workshops, training programmes and shared exercises to boost cooperation on cyber threats and challenges. Industry Relations Coordinator Michaela Simakova says a lot of

information exchange takes place when it comes to non-classified information. The partnership extends to non-traditional defence and technology companies, and this is “crucial to enabling effective response to cyber threats”. Among key developments, NCIP has established a framework for voluntary cyber information-sharing. In addition to bringing better situational awareness at expert level, this encourages the use of a common taxonomy and standards. Regular workshops are expected to resume once travel is permitted again to share information about measures to counter potential threats, user behaviour and other challenges. “There are different channels,” explains Simakova. “Specific agreements may restrict information-sharing within a specific industry, while some platforms – such as NATO’s Threat Information Sharing Platform (MISP) – are shared with everyone.” NCIP also supports training events, including the International Cyber

Security Summer School, which is run in cooperation with The Hague Security Delta – a Dutch security cluster. This enables NATO to pool resources when it comes to scarce tech talent, mutual learning and capacity-building to improve collective cyber defence and raise awareness of NATO requirements in the private sector. These initiatives are additional to the more formal agreements NATO holds with Member States and partner nations. The rules of engagement contained within memoranda of understanding between NATO and NATO nations, for example, can be used to monitor cyber activity and help identify cyber-attacks, and can be further expanded with the technical agreement in place with the European Union Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-EU). NATO’s strong engagement on information with allies and partner nations, the EU and the private sector increases its cyber defence posture and assists others in defending themselves better.



MEET GIAVID VALIYEV Data Scientist at the NCI Agency Giavid Valiyev received the Young Scientist of the Year award from the NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO)’s Information Systems Technology Panel for his ‘’valuable contribution to NATO’s digital endeavour’’ Valiyev is from Italy. He earned a degree in data science from Milan-Bicocca University, and joined the university’s research centre after graduation. He first joined the NCI Agency Data Science team in 2017 as an intern. He is now a full-time staff member and lives in The Hague, Netherlands.

Q What do you do for the Agency? I analyse data to highlight patterns and insights for decision-makers. My objective is to help them make better, faster data-driven decisions. The Data Science team receives a huge quantity of data, generated by NATO, and it’s our job to analyse relevant data from different military domains, such as space, defence, cyber and more. We apply algorithms and models to this data to identify patterns/trends and create solutions for the specific problems that our stakeholders are working on. We do this on a daily basis for a number of teams – Allied Command Transformation (ACT), Allied Command Operations (ACO), NATO Headquarters – to name only a few.


The data we analyse comes in two forms: structured and unstructured. Structured data could be numerical


tables and spreadsheets, whereas unstructured data is more text-based or images and data gathered from sensors, such as drone sensors for example. The data that we use to analyse and problem-solve come from many sources across NATO – military exercises, operations and documents. I began my journey at the NCI Agency as an intern four years ago, in 2017, when the Data Science team was just forming. I was lucky enough to be part of the development of the team and see it grow. After 2017, I worked as a contractor in the Data Science team for a few years. In March 2020, I became a NATO international civilian. The Young Scientist Award that I am receiving is in recognition of the work I have done and been a part of over the past three years in the Data Science team.

Q Why is your work important for NATO? NATO benefits from our work because we help guide and inform the strategic direction of the Alliance. We exploit and analyse data for strategic purposes and military benefit, to help decision-makers make better choices that are backed up by data. Data science in general can help NATO learn an awful lot.





The area of artificial intelligence (AI) is the future, for society and businesses in general, but also within a military environment. The Data Science team and NATO know that they must stay relevant and be aware of any emerging AI technology. It is key that NATO has a Data Science team and is aware of all the solutions we can provide, with AI being a major tool in our problem-solving kit.

What projects have you been working on recently that contributed to you winning this award?


We recently worked on a project for NATO’s Command, Control, Communications (C3) Board to analyse their strategy and policy documents. Our analysis aimed to help the policymakers develop future policies by identifying duplications and areas of inconsistencies across current documents.


We also supported the NATO Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) by analysing data from the military exercise Trident Juncture 2018. This was NATO’s largest exercise for over a decade and it generated a huge quantity of data. We analysed unstructured data coming in from Trident Juncture 2018 to give the JALLC better insight into the successes and failures that occurred during the exercise. We were able to analyse emails, chat messages and documents to identify trends that could improve results for the next time. Hackathons are a popular approach to problem-solving using new technologies, so in 2020 I was a mentor for one of the challenges at the TIDE hackathon, organized by ACT, and the year before I also supported the Ukrainian Defence Hackathon together with my colleagues from the NCI Agency.


Currently, our team is looking at how to better understand natural ‘conversational’ language used at NATO and apply that to our digital world. Google created an algorithm called ‘BERT’, which we have retrained in order to improve the understanding of NATO conversational language across all our digital platforms. Why are we doing this? Well, after a few years of experimenting, we realized that models such as BERT, trained on publicly available data such as Wikipedia, do not perform well on NATO platforms as they do not



Can you let us know about your recent achievements?

Some of the data science team analysing data to provide patterns and insights (PHOTO: NCI AGENCY)

“The achievements that led to the IST Young Scientist Award are very much team achievements” understand our natural language, nor our acronyms and jargon. Natural Language Processing (NLP) will sit behind certain programmes at NATO and also be applied directly to our projects. It will be rolled out to different areas across NATO in the future. Together with ACT, we have also been looking at open-source Big Data (data available for free on the internet) to give NATO officers insight into the resilience of different geographical areas – resilience from different perspectives, such as energy, communications and transport. In case something occurs, a crisis for example, our aim is to understand how this could impact NATO operations and exercises. The achievements that led to the IST Young Scientist Award are very much team achievements. We are a small and newly formed team, but we are making a huge impact across NATO through great teamwork. The Data Science team is quite diverse. It comprises 40% women, and our members come from across the Alliance – Albania, Croatia, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, among others. Having diversity in the team creates better results, because it brings diverse thinking and problem-solving.

Dr Margherita Pagani, from France’s world-leading Emlyon Business School tells Simon Michell why women are set to play an increasing role in the world of artificial intelligence

Dr Margherita Pagani, Professor of Digital Marketing at Emlyon Business School in France ticks all the boxes in terms of female pioneers of the emerging world of artificial intelligence (AI). As founder and Director of the Artificial Intelligence Management (AIM) Research Center on Artificial Intelligence in Value Creation and at one of the world’s premier business schools, she is leading the work into researching, linking and measuring the value of AI tools in real-world business applications.





Events such as WaiCAMP Sydney provide opportunities for young women to engage with and learn more about artificial intelligence (PHOTO: WOMEN IN AI)

This is becoming a very large task. “There are use cases of AI systems applied to all industry sectors. You can say it is a pervasive phenomenon,” explains Pagani. In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Dr Pagani and her colleague, Renaud Champion, revealed that they had undertaken research on over 1,000 use cases for AI being applied in over 14 different industry sectors. The results of this remarkable undertaking are detailed in a forthcoming book, published by Edward Elgar Publishing, entitled Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Value Creation.


Dr Pagani cites two interesting examples – GE and Netflix. The former is applying AI to increase efficiency by monitoring its supply chains and finding ways to make them more productive. As such, the GE use case highlights productivity as the driver, whereas the Netflix example is all about marketing opportunities and creativity. “At Netflix, content producers are able to monitor viewer selections using algorithms and measure these preference rates for specific types of content,” explains Dr Pagani. This enables Netflix to invest in those areas at speed.” In fact, this data and the data science behind it is

also a product from which Netflix can derive value by selling it to other production companies. Another more general use case is in the service industries – banking, insurance, online shopping. Here the emergence of chat boxes is helping to drive value creation by helping potential customers find the answers to their questions faster and more easily.

CHANGING THE AI GENDER BALANCE When asked about the representation of females in the AI sector, Dr Pagani concedes that there is still an overall imbalance, but points to Emlyon as proof that things are beginning to change. As co-director of a Master of Science (MSc) degree in digital marketing and data science, she has witnessed a growth in women wanting to study data science, and with it, AI. The highly successful MSc degree has 120 students from 38 different nations, of which 60% are female. Dr Pagani says there is a growing understanding among women that although a background in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is useful, it is not the only quality that can lead to success. “Empathy,

What was your inspiration for establishing the Women in AI do-tank?


Back in 2017, AI was already spreading

A everywhere, and we were starting to hear about these algorithms biased against women. Let’s remember Amazon’s former recruitment AI algorithm that was only selecting male profiles. Together with Hanan Salam and Moojan Asghari, we felt something needed to be done to bring awareness about this unfairness, whilst also encouraging more women to engage in STEM careers and join engineering teams – especially as the World Economic Forum estimates that only 22% of AI professionals are women.



What is WAI doing to promote AI to women and help them join the specialism?


WAI is a community-based initiative with more than 6,000 members in over 30 chapters around the world. We organize events to promote female experts and role models for the younger generations, as well as deploy education curriculums and acceleration programmes for AI female entrepreneurs.


creativity and critical thinking, particularly in decisionmaking, are also extremely valuable,” she says, “and this is where women can make a difference.” “If you look at whether an algorithmic tool is designed to assist with simple or complex tasks and whether the AI systems replace or complement humans, one thing becomes clear.” The simple tasks, classed as ‘rote’, are often repetitive actions similar to those on a production line. Here, AI may well replace a human, whereas the complex AI tasks tend to veer towards the more creative side, with applications in the arts, medicine and decision support (think chat boxes). Such specializations and sectors are extremely attractive to women.

We’re also actively contributing to studies and collaborative initiatives with local public authorities, such as Vinnova in Sweden, and regional programmes like AI4EU in Europe.

What events are you planning next and why should women attend/ participate?


Our next major event is InnoHUB, which

Dr Pagani is a keen supporter of the ‘Women in AI’ group founded by Dr Hanan Salam and Caroline Lair, which she has found a useful forum for ideas and support, and has attended events around the world. That said, she does not think that the dominance of one gender over another is necessarily a good thing. Instead, she believes that diversity in gender and ethnicity is key to extracting value. It is well documented that diverse teams outperform those that are not.

A runs online for two days a week from

22 June to 15 July on the Virtual World of Evenness. This is the first immersive programme for women innovators from the Amsterdam region, as well as from all other cities and towns in the Netherlands and the Benelux region. Find out about more events in our different chapters on our LinkedIn page – WAI.





Simon Michell talks to Iván Ortega, Director of Amsterdam’s Innovation Hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, to find out more about this new cohort of data scientists and what they desire from their careers



Some data scientists are seen by many as latterday alchemists – white knights that ride to the rescue bearing a secret potion capable of solving all the world’s problems. And, to tell the truth, many do seem to see themselves as ‘stormtroopers’, cast in the same mould as Navy Seals or elite Olympic athletes. It is not surprising then that this mythical status is attracting a lot of attention. “Data science is trending. It is a buzz, especially if you come from California where I’m from,” says Iván Ortega. “Young, or recently graduated, data scientists like to think of themselves as hotshots.” He should know – as Director of the Innovation Hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence located at the Amsterdam Science Park’s Startup Village, he is surrounded by them and makes a living from recruiting them for his projects.

A RARE COMMODITY This recent data science phenomenon is attracting huge numbers of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students across the world, but especially in NATO’s back yard – Europe and North America. You would think there would be a buyers’ market where those who wanted to recruit data scientists had their pick of the bunch.

Amsterdam Science Park (PHOTO: SWIMMERGUY269)

Nothing could be further from the truth, as Ortega explains. “If you take a close look at the pool of



available data science graduates that an organization like the NCI Agency might be able to recruit, you will probably find that roughly a quarter of them will want to go off and create their own businesses – become entrepreneurs. Of the remainder, particularly those who already have or are taking Masters’ degrees and Doctorates, at least 50% of them are international students from non-NATO countries – China, India, Iran, Pakistan etc.” For NATO, and many other ‘transatlantic’ organizations in both the public and private sectors with more rigorous recruitment requirements than many, this makes the available group of data scientists approximately a third of the whole community. Even before you start looking for recruits, just under 70% or so are already beyond reach. That is before big hitters such as Amazon, Apple and Google swoop in and take what they need. Ortega highlights the challenge. “I have been asked by the NCI Agency to find a pair of interns for them,” he says. “There has been a very large and enthusiastic response, but when I go through the CVs, more than two-thirds are from applicants outside of NATO Member States. Attracting candidates is hard – retaining them is even harder. Why? Because they want to work on the coolest projects. They want to cure illnesses. They want to stop climate change. They want to save the world!” Money is a factor, but not the only one. According to Ortega, potential recruits will want to know who else works for their prospective employer, who will mentor them and who they are going to be working with. Fundamentally, data scientists want to know what kind of cool projects they will be working on.

“Data scientists can be very competitive. They want bragging rights and street cred” With such a dearth of available talent, there is, without doubt, a pool of data scientists that is not being fully exploited – women. Ortega thinks this may be because most recruiters are male. “As the saying goes, ‘it takes women to recruit women’,” he says. The emergence of groups like Women in AI and Women in Tech is a concrete indication that female data scientists want equal representation and a fairer recruiting system. Ortega admits that there is still quite a gender imbalance in data science, but that things are changing, with groups springing up to offer support to women who have become or want to become data scientists. He cites among others the mentorship group known as PyLadies, and the R-Ladies, an organization promoting gender diversity in the ‘R community’, that is to say the statistics and data science community. Ortega points out that, whatever their gender or background, “Data scientists can be very competitive. They want bragging rights and street cred”.

DATA SCIENTISTS WORKING WITH THE NCI AGENCY Iván Ortega recently worked with the NCI Agency to assess civil standards for data science, bringing both industry and academic experience to the task. To fulfil the task, he has recruited data scientists from the hub, including from its founding company, Qualogy, as well as a small group from their partners at S&T (Science & Technology) to help him.


What they are trying to do is create a profile of standards and best

practice for artificial intelligence that NATO can use going forward. Standards are important to NATO, as they allow systems to interoperate. But the benefits of interoperability sometimes come at the cost of flexibility. “My NATO oversight, Michael Street, who is Head of Data Science and AI at the NCI Agency, asked us to find the best data science standards being developed by

civilian standards bodies, implement them into an interoperability simulation model, and then assess which really bring value to data science scenarios. The aim was to inform NATO on which civil standards, if any, should be adopted as official standards that NATO can abide by and use in order to get the benefits of interoperability and innovation as data science evolves across the Alliance.”

Chris Aaron takes a look at five ways in which Big Data is transforming human activities in the scientific, political, commercial and personal worlds



5 THINGS BIG DATA CAN HELP WITH As Big Data methods suffuse 21st-century economies, we can begin to discern some of the modes in which it and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) are transforming existing services, products and processes. We could label three of these as: innovation by speed and completeness; innovation by discovery; and extension of existing methods. The other two areas covered relate to predictive analytics and household/personal management.



1: INNOVATION BY SPEED AND COMPLETENESS The first mode uses Big Data/AI techniques to improve the speed and completeness of existing processes, thereby creating outputs that were previously impossible. An example is Indonesia’s use of Big Data/AI in its diplomatic information service. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), working with Big Data consultants from the United Nations’ Global Pulse office in Jakarta, has developed a system to take diplomatic reporting from its outposts around the world and visualize information extracted from these reports in different ways. The methods used range across document handling, image processing, machine learning, natural language processing and data visualisation. Developing the systems and creating training sets from document archives has been time-consuming, but MFA officials can now get a more complete, detailed understanding of their international partners’ situations and concerns, and can relate these to Indonesia’s diplomatic priorities using visualisation tools.

2: INNOVATION BY DISCOVERY The second mode, innovation by discovery, results from perhaps the best-known characteristic of Big Data/AI – the extraction of meaningful patterns from very large, structured and unstructured datasets. A commonplace example might be Google or Facebook’s use of massive, volatile, unstructured data to sell you things or suggest your perfect date.


Another example is the discovery of new drugs. There are many bioinformatics startups, research labs and pharmaceutical companies active in this field, but research into a treatment for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) at Nottingham University in the UK gives a flavour of how Big Data/AI methods are being applied. IPF has been increasing in prevalence in recent decades (it has also been seen in cases of ‘Long Covid’), and the search is on for drugs that can inhibit the biochemical process that causes scarring of the lung tissue. One approach is to simulate the impact of different molecules using a computer – a process now being transformed by Big Data methods. Nottingham’s Professor Jonathan Hirst tells NITECH that there are an estimated 1,060 molecules that might be useful in new-drug discovery, and that exhaustive computer testing of just 185,000 such compounds would take about eight months with current technology. In contrast, a Big Data/AI approach using an ‘active search’ algorithm enabled the Nottingham research team to identify dozens of promising molecules in a run of just 24 hours.

The third mode concerns how Big Data/ AI can extend exisiting technologies to new purposes or wider use. The proliferation of ultrasound imaging applications is a case in point. Although ultrasound scanning (US) is widespread in clinical settings, it can be timeconsuming, difficult to administer for less-experienced practitioners and can result in images of varying quality. Moreover, some of the images can be hard to interpret. AI/Big Data are helping to alleviate these limitations: real-time image analysis software now exists to guide clinicians in positioning a scanner to get the best images; automatic recognition of correct measuring points is reducing variability and speeding the process; and images can be analysed in real-time to highlight issues of concern.

4: PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS In 2020, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) reported on ‘the impact of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Insurance Sector’. The report notes that “insurers can take advantage of Big Data to apply diagnostic and predictive analytics to predict the behaviour of policyholders and take action based on the outcomes”. Car insurance is one of the biggest business lines in most countries, and insurers group customers with similar risk profiles. Within those groups, riskier individuals are effectively subsidised by the more cautious. Big Data and AI offer the possibility of a tighter focus, potentially down to the level of individual risk assessment, meaning there would be less need for good drivers to subsidize less careful ones.

5: HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL MANAGEMENT On an individual level, personal Big Data/AI systems that monitor our activities, our body chemistries and functions, and our physical and virtual environments on a 24/7 basis from birth will become as ubiquitous as smartphones. These will advise us what to wear (based on the weather), remind us what to take when we go out, tell us when clothing needs washing, and when to have a shower. They will tell us what to eat and when, and how much alcohol it is safe to consume. Alerts will be provided as to when household appliances need replacing, and even have them delivered by drone, and when the grass should be cut. They will advise us on personal grooming, what medicines to take for minor ailments, and whom we should be dating. Such multi-aspect monitoring and notification (MAMAN) systems are surely going to be the next big thing.

USING AI TO CREATE NEW CHEMICALS In 2020, Jonathan Hirst (above), Professor of Computational Chemistry at the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Sustainable Chemistry was awarded a 10-year grant by the Royal Academy of Engineering to develop machinelearning techniques to design and manufacture new molecules in a more sustainable fashion. “At the moment, there are all kinds of inefficiencies, which are largely neglected in the search for new chemicals with specific desired properties,” explains Professor Hirst. “How do we find greener synthetic routes to chemicals, and how do we identify greener target molecules from the outset?”



The Royal Academy of Engineering ‘Chairs in Emerging Technology’ scheme awarded eight grants, worth 22 million GBP (circa 25.5 million EUR) in total, to pioneering academic teams during 2020. The research ranges from wearable ‘e-textiles’ to microbiological water-purification technologies. On receiving the grant, Professor Hirst said, “I am most grateful to the Royal Academy of Engineering for this award, which builds on the fantastic research of many wonderful doctoral students and postdocs in our research group over the years. It will enable us to work ever more deeply with the industrial partners who have supported us, with the ultimate aim to deliver technology that goes beyond current machinelearning deployments to a new generation of dynamic interactive tools where AI and human experts are working hand in hand.” 113


Data science glossary Data science is key to the success of NATO, but what do all these terms mean?





A finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of problems or to perform a computation.

Long-term storage facility for all types of data, whether or not they are destined to be used for a specific analytical purpose.



The simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions.

The field of study that combines domain expertise, programming skills and knowledge of mathematics and statistics to allow the extraction of meaningful insights from data.



The data that contains greater variety, arriving in increasing volumes, and finally with higher velocity.

A collection of data that can be accessed individually or in combination, or managed as a whole entity, for training, modelling or analytics purposes.



The process of cleaning, analysing, interpreting and visualizing data, with the goal of discovering insights.

A branch of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer science that uses data and algorithms to learn patterns, without being explicitly programmed.



The process of integrating multiple data sources to produce more consistent, accurate and useful information than that provided by any individual data source.

A machine-learning technique that imitates the workings of the human brain (ie neural networks) and teaches computers to learn by example.

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Articles inside

Data science glossary

pages 114-116

5 things Big Data can help with

pages 111-113

What do data scientists want from work?

pages 108-110

Women in AI

pages 105-107

Meet Giavid Valiyev, data scientist at the NCI Agency

pages 102-104

protect against cyber intrusions

pages 100-101

5G technologies for military applications

pages 94-99

Ethical deployment of AI

pages 89-93

Steadfast Defender

pages 86-88

NATO's Digital Workplace

pages 74-77

The Data Challenge

pages 70-73

Using oceanographic datasets to improve decision-making

pages 68-69

Developing autonomous anti-submarine warfare systems

pages 64-67

AI in ASW – anti-submarine warfare

pages 60-63

of the NCI Agency and NATO

pages 55-59

surveillance and reconnaissance data

pages 52-54

Improving NATO policies with AI

pages 38-41

Enhancing data processing for NATO air and space power

pages 42-45

View from the Nations – France

pages 46-51

The promise and challenge of data analytics for the Alliance

pages 26-31

Deployable CIS saves lives

pages 32-37

Data, data, data

pages 22-25

Admiral Joachim Rühle

pages 16-21

Kevin J. Scheid

pages 12-15
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