The UK Royal Navy Command Information Superiority Staff provides an integrated team that deals with issues ranging from MoD strategy to the detail of support to front line units engaged in operations. This responsibility spans information management, networked C4ISTAR, infrastructure projects ashore and afloat and a multitude of tasks contributing to fleet operational capability.
"Everything we do in war fighting is centred around information. If we don’t exploit it effectively we will not be effective in battle," commented Lt Cdr James Holgate, Navy Command Information Superiority Staff, MoD.
The Navy Command Information Superiority Staff’s mission is to deliver success in operations enabling maritime commanders to make better and timelier decisions than those of an adversary.
The testing and verification of an on-board information management software tool was part of a project focused on improving the Royal Navy’s Maritime Wide Area Network (MARWAN). The purpose of the project, run by Navy Command , DE&S and the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) equipment manufacturer, was to examine potential improvements to the Royal Navy’s vessel to shore, shore to vessel bandwidth, which is limited in capacity. In addition, it sought to improve the effectiveness of the MARWAN for both ships and submarines.
This project is set in the context of information volume growing very rapidly for which ships and submarines have a huge requirement to operate at maximum efficiency. The Royal Navy faces rapid growth in information flows, but is constrained by lack of bandwidth on its network. Additional factors that need to be taken into account are the cost of information communication and the size and nature of the ship and submarine and its existing communications capability.
"This project is essentially about making the most effective and efficient use of the available bandwidth," said Lt Cdr James Holgate.
The key challenges of the project
In order to test QinetiQ’s software the project team were faced with the following challenges:
- Identify a suitable platform in the fleet to carry out the on-board test
- Achieve the successful integration of QinetiQ’s software into the ship’s business support system, in this case DII Maritime Deployed (MD)
- Ensure that the trial delivered comprehensive testing of the application
- Manage the evaluation on-board an operational platform
The role and value of QinetiQ’s email management tool
QinetiQ’s on-board email management tool helps maximise network availability by enabling on-board users to determine what email they want to access over the network prior to downloading it. This helps to ensure the available bandwidth is used more efficiently.
HMS Illustrious, the UK’s high readiness helicopter and commando carrier, was selected for the trial of QinetiQ’s email management tool due to its availability of on-board IT staff, its experience in using the current DII and because of its high demand for bandwidth.
Prior to full testing, the QinetiQ team undertook extensive planning with Royal Navy Command and the provider of DII to ensure their tool could be successfully integrated into DII. As a result the software was installed in-line on the ship and on the appropriate on-shore MARWAN trial hosting unit.
"To support this trial QinetiQ carried out the integration of the email management software into the ship’s system and provided application training for the users including the DII system administrators IS Officer and the Senior Warfare Communications Officer. In addition QinetiQ provided first line application support," said Lt Cdr James Holgate.
During the trial, users on-board HMS Illustrious were able to look at all the unread email held at the on-shore hosting unit and identify priority traffic through a number of profiles including by receivers name, by originator, and by keyword.
QinetiQ’s information management software enables on-board operators to make informed decisions as to which emails should be prioritised and downloaded. It also allows attachments to be stripped out of emails which saves further bandwidth.
"It was a very successful trial. We went from initial concept to software integration and successful test on-board all within the defined time-scales," observed Lt Cdr James Holgate.
About QinetiQ’s email management software tool
The email management software is part of a range of software tools developed by QinetiQ to enhance and support their capabilities in delivering a comprehensive suite of through-life command information systems services. The software has been designed to provide an integrated email management capability for deployed ships and submarines. It helps users manage traffic over resource constrained bandwidth giving them control over what is sent over the network. It further enables reduction in data sent and received over operational networks by applying protocol conversion and as such provides the ability to significantly reduce data volume.