Irish Defence Forces employ SitaWare in fight against COVID-19

As a long-standing user of SitaWare, the Irish Defence Forces were able to quickly stand up a solution to help tackle the pandemic

23 June 2020

The Irish Defence Forces have drawn on their experience of using SitaWare to create a layered solution, enabling a range of agencies to benefit from the software’s planning and situational awareness (SA) capabilities.

SitaWare is employed by all branches of the Irish Defence Forces and the software has filled a number of operational roles, as varied as fisheries protection, peacekeeping in the Middle East, and counter narcotics. Now, under ‘Operation FORTITUDE’, the Defence Forces have used their expertise to build an unclassified common operating picture (COP) in SitaWare Headquarters that can be accessed by agencies working to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Ireland COVID 19(credit: Irish Defence Forces)

 

 

As Captain Paul Shorte, CIS Officer at the Defence Forces Training Centre, explains, a Combined Joint Task Force has been established in Ireland that includes military and civilian elements. To enable information to be shared across all members the task force, the Irish Defence Forces created a gateway that links its classified network and the unclassified COP.

The Defence Forces are able to control the information flowing from the classified network into the unclassified COP, ensuring security, and all the while continuing to support extant military operations and tasks in Ireland and overseas.

The COP has been used to provide a wide range of data, from the location of patients, test locations, and medical facilities, to that regarding the availability and status of resources. In addition to its own sources, GIS map data was drawn from those not typically used by the Defence Forces, including government and industry.

All components of the SitaWare suite have been employed to provide varying levels of situational awareness, force tracking, and planning capabilities. For example, SitaWare Edge has equipped dismounted teams and provided chat and lower level C2, while SitaWare Frontline has been used in vehicle convoys transporting vital stores and equipment, again providing C2, SA and chat.

Capt Shorte points to the ability to quickly integrate third-party and non-military systems into SitaWare Headquarters as an important capability, noting the examples of ArcGIS and Track24 data feeds.

The defence forces were also able to overcome a shortage in the number of military devices required to track its ‘green fleet’, leveraging the GPS in civilian radios that were issued, Capt Shorte explains. 

Network connectivity has also been delivered over different means, for example, some devices running SitaWare Edge operated via LTE communications, while Frontline installations were connected via military networks. 

Among the most powerful benefits brought by the JCOP is the ability to visualise data and create map overlays, Capt Shorte says, highlighting an example where they have been able to combine census data with that on the location and ‘reach’ of hospitals, in order to identify potential gaps in coverage for those in age groups deemed most vulnerable.

Its ability to stand-up a complex solution in such short order was, Capt Shorte said, due to the Irish Defence Forces mantra of ‘train as you fight.’

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