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Nifty Tech Merges Mapping, Data

My colleague Colin Clark and I stumbled across a cool technology -- Global Situational Awareness -- at the Navy League conference. Offered by DRS Technologies, it's a geospatial information system that also allows sharing of data from almost any source -- UAV videos, schematics, photos, SAR, IR etc. -- on a pretty simple touchscreen. The imported data can be overlaid on the geospatial data and used for mission planning and a host of other applications.

As software engineer Michael Bridges shows, you can call up a region and slap on it overlay after overlay, showing you topography, elevation, streets and highways. If you don't like a bird's eye view, he'll flip the image on its side, any side.

Want to see what a Predator is watching, or perhaps cameras mounted on a guard post or tower? A tap of the menu along the side of the screen and the streaming video appears on the map screen. Another menu tap and Bridges can use a finger to plot a pathway reflecting the movements of opposing forces. A commander using the Integrated Tactical Command and Control Console could send all, or just part, of the images before him to the computer screens of other commanders.

The console's hardware has been under development for about three years, the software about one, Hodges said. Currently, the system can handle about 10 applications at the same time, but the company already is working on an even more muscular system that could handle an infinite number of applications.

The base is comprised of U.S. Geological Survey maps, he said, but a commander with his own data, collected by his own people and sources, would be able to load it into the system and work with it on the oversized map.

Bridges said the console may get a tryout at this year's Trident Warrior exercise, which the Naval Network Warfare Command conducts to test the Navy’s newest communication technologies.

The touch screen allows fast and simple manipulation of the data. For the rest, the video demonstrates it better than we can describe it. Anderson Cooper and CNN --  eat your hearts out.

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