Locally developed communications technology played a key role in Defence’s contribution to last month’s international Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) exercise.
The annual event is hosted by the US Joint Forces Command. The global network includes Canada, New Zealand, the UK, NATO and Partnership for Peace nations with independent trials and network demonstration sites. There were more than 20 multinational participants.
The exercise targets information technologies that can be moved into operational use in the short term. It also establishes a simulated operational network for the demonstration, enabling unclassified information flow for the full spectrum of coalition military operations and an interface for disaster response.
This year New Zealand focused on a counter-terrorism scenario, based on the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and non-combatant evacuation – a scenario based in Aden but which could be used in the South Pacific.
Defence implemented Wellington-based Chinzacorp’s Black Ice mobile communications for the exercise.
“Black Ice has huge potential for multi-agency deployable secure network communications,” says Commander Mike de Ruiter, deputy director network enabled capability Director of Capability Development.
The technology, which has been in continuous development since its release last year (Computerworld April 23, 2008), was originally developed to provide secure communications in any emergency situation.
It was an enhancement on US efforts to improve communications following 9/11, where many firemen died when their comms wouldn’t work underground.
ICE (integrated communications electronics) has multiple communication options and internet capability. The key, though, is its power system, giving it long life in the field, with the help of solar technology and power conservation techniques.
It is built on a core system, which incorporates a microcomputer, a power management system and integration software.
The units bridge high-frequency, very high frequency, the plain old telephone system (POTS), cellular, satellite and VoIP communications. There are back-ups to back-ups, meaning the user should always be able to communicate in some form.
Black Ice is the military version, providing full, secure encryption.
De Ruiter says the technology has real potential for export to military partners.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has purchased ICE for use in embassies and high commissions, where communications may be at risk in an emergency situation.
Fujitsu has signed an international reseller agreement for the product, which also comes in a wearable version where the technology is interwoven into a jacket that attaches to portable batteries.