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ONR-Funded Technology Improves Humanitarian Aid Initiative in Cobra Gold

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110218-20

By Katherine Crawford, Office of Naval Research Public Affairs

Arlington, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines may soon have the power of mobile data storage and mapping, following the testing of an information-collection system at Exercise Cobra Gold 2011 being held Feb. 6-18 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Cobra Gold is an annual joint training exercise held in Thailand and sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command and the Royal Supreme Thai Command. One of the world's largest multinational exercises, it draws participants from 24 nations, including the armed forces of Thailand, Republic of Singapore, Japan, Republic of Indonesia, Republic of Korea and the United States.

Funded by Office of Naval Research, the Army Geospatial Center is developing the International Stability Assessment and Analysis Capability (ISAAC), a handheld, mobile data-collection system. Researchers from ONR's Human, Social, Cultural and Behavioral (HSCB) group are putting ISAAC to the test during combined arms live-fire exercises at Cobra Gold.

The HSCB team is assessing how the Army Geospatial Center's ISAAC performs during humanitarian and disaster relief missions. The goal is to obtain warfighter feedback, which will be compiled into "lessons learned" for future improvements.

The team will be "gathering user requirements (and) learning how the mobile devices help warfighters improve data collection . so we can tailor the technology to meet their needs," said Dhiren Khona, ONR's HSCB deputy program officer.

ISAAC is a Web-based framework that records and stores information using an application downloaded onto a smart phone, said HSCB Program Analyst Clark Phillips. Based on the data and its analysis, the system then creates models of critical response areas during complex humanitarian emergencies or disaster-response operations, which can be displayed on a geospatial Common Operational Picture map viewer.

The ability to collect and save this type of information on a handheld device is a new and exciting capability.

"Collecting information and storing it in a central location in a standard data schema allows for standards-based data collection," Khona said. This makes it easier for "other analysts to have access to this information for their own purposes."

ONR's HSCB focus area seeks to develop a full understanding of social cultural and cognitive factors to optimize warfighters' abilities. The goal is to enable naval forces to identify, anticipate, preempt and defeat threats operating within the complex physical, cyber and sociocultural domains.

Nearly 13,000 military personnel, approximately 7,300 of them American troops, will participate in Cobra Gold 2011. The event improves participating nations' ability to conduct relevant and dynamic training while strengthening relationships between the militaries and local communities.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

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