The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. The number of devices that use it to ‘talk’ to each other is mind-numbing. Fridges, vehicles, vacuum cleaners, domestic heating systems, and even doorbells, are connected.
The increasing miniaturization of electronics has enabled tiny sensors and processors to be integrated into everyday objects, making them ‘‘smart’’ , such as smart watches, fitness monitoring products, food items, home appliances, plant control systems, equipment monitoring and maintenance sensors and industrial robots. By means of wireless and wired connections, they are able to interact and cooperate with each other to create new applications/services in order to reach common goals.
Recent studies predict that by 2025 there may be as many as 100 billion IoT devices deployed worldwide. That’s roughly 14 connected devices or sensors for every person on Earth.
This technology has the potential to revolutionize the military by providing unprecedented levels of information dominance.
For in-depth understanding on IOT technology and applications please visit: The IoT Revolution: Internet of Things Technology and Applications
Military Internet of Things
The Military Internet of Things (MIoT) or Battlefield Internet of Things (BIoT) is a rapidly evolving technology that is set to provide unprecedented levels of information dominance to military forces. MIoT/BIoT involves networking sensors, wearables, weapons, munitions, and platforms to create a cohesive system that provides real-time data to commanders in the field.
Some of the military applications of MIoT include fully immersive virtual simulations for soldiers’ training; autonomous vehicles; the ability to use smart inventory systems to consolidate warehouses using a web-based delivery and inventory system; and business systems like the Army Strategic Management System to manage energy, utilities and environmental sensors.
Strategies like “net-centric” and “information dominance” emphasize the importance of having access to accurate and timely information in order to make informed decisions and gain an advantage over the enemy. With the emergence of cyber as a new domain of operations, the importance of information has only increased.
Given this emphasis on information, it makes sense that the military would be interested in adopting Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. IoT is all about connecting devices and sensors to collect and transmit data. This data can then be used to inform decisions, optimize processes, and improve overall efficiency. For military applications, this means being able to gather and process information quickly and in distributed environments.
Advantages of Military IoT
Military operations will be significantly affected by widespread adoption of IoT technologies. Analogous to IoT, Military internet of things (MIOT) comprising multitude of platforms, ranging from ships to aircraft to ground vehicles to weapon systems, is expected to be developed. MIoT offers high potential for the military to achieve significant efficiencies, improve safety and delivery of services, and produce major cost savings.
Increased Situational Awareness
One of the primary benefits of MIoT/BIoT is increased situational awareness. By connecting all military assets in the field, commanders can gain a comprehensive understanding of the battlefield. Sensors placed on vehicles, weapons, and even personnel can gather real-time data, such as enemy troop movements and weather conditions, and relay it to a central command post. This allows commanders to make informed decisions quickly and with greater accuracy.
In the past, military commanders relied on human intelligence (HUMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) to gather information about the enemy. However, these sources of information are often limited and can be time-consuming to collect. IoT can provide commanders with real-time data about the enemy’s movements, weapons, and capabilities. This information can be used to make better decisions about troop deployment, target selection, and other aspects of military operations.
Improved Decision Making
The vision of military internet of things (MIOT) is to realize “anytime, anyplace connectivity for anything, ubiquitous network with ubiquitous computing” in military domain. Commanders make decisions based on real-time analysis generated by integrating Sensors data from unmanned sensors and reports from the field. These commanders shall benefit from a wide range of information supplied by sensors and cameras mounted on the ground, and manned or unmanned vehicles or soldiers.
With real-time data from MIoT/BIoT, commanders can make better decisions. They can quickly adjust tactics and strategies to respond to changing conditions on the battlefield. MIoT/BIoT can also provide predictive analytics, allowing commanders to anticipate enemy movements and plan accordingly.
MIoT/BIoT can also enhance efficiency in military operations. By automating certain tasks, such as resupplying ammunition or refueling vehicles, MIoT/BIoT can reduce the workload on soldiers and free up their time for other tasks. Additionally, wearables such as smart glasses or augmented reality headsets can provide soldiers with information, such as maps or target locations, without the need to consult a separate device.
MIoT/BIoT has the potential to reduce casualties. By equipping soldiers with wearable sensors, commanders can monitor their health and wellness in real-time. This allows for early detection of injuries or illnesses and can prevent soldiers from being put in harm’s way unnecessarily. MIoT/BIoT can also be used to remotely control unmanned vehicles, reducing the risk of injury or death to soldiers in dangerous situations.
Some specific examples of how IoBT could be used in the military
MIOT is being employed for improving efficiency of military logistics, Equipment Maintenance, Smart Bases, Personal Sensing, Soldier Healthcare, Battlefield Awareness, C4ISR and Fire-Control Systems.
- Tracking enemy troops and vehicles: IoBT-enabled sensors could be used to track the movement of enemy troops and vehicles. This information could be used to predict enemy movements and plan ambushes or airstrikes.
- Detecting landmines and other hazards: IoBT-enabled sensors could be used to detect landmines and other hazards. This information could be used to warn soldiers about potential dangers and help them to stay safe on the battlefield.
- Providing real-time updates on weather conditions: IoBT-enabled sensors could be used to provide real-time updates on weather conditions. This information could be used to make better decisions about troop deployment and target selection.
- Connecting unmanned systems and other devices: IoBT could be used to connect unmanned systems and other devices together. This would allow soldiers to control and coordinate these systems from a single location.
Military Equipment Logistics
IoT can be huge enabler of efficiency, visibility and military equipment in the right hands at right time. Deploying radio frequency identification tags and standardized barcodes to track individual supplies down to the tactical level could provide real-time supply chain visibility and allow the military to order parts and supplies on demand. The ability to use smart inventory systems to consolidate warehouses using a web-based delivery and inventory system.
One of the most important systems is RF-ITV system of US military that applies RFID labels and satellites to monitor the position and condition of military cargo from sender to the destination. The shipping data are combined and processed with data from the movement detector system (MTS2) equipped with localization information that ensures the communication between convoys and web-based maps and report give support for logistic units. The US military labels weekly 16000 shipments with the RF-ITV system based on 2010 data that forms the largest RFID-based shipment monitoring system all around the world.
Real-time equipment and vehicle management
The harsh conditions and extended deployments put extensive wear and tear on equipment. IoT can enable enhanced equipment maintenance and management through monitoring, optimizing and appropriately allocating various resources and processes such as manpower, material, financial resources and maintenance personnel.
Vehicle maintenance is critical to successful military operations, and tracking battlefield supplies is made easier by gathering data with vehicle sensors. Location, fuel efficiency, mechanical state, damage level (if any), and other parameters, make it possible to spot problems and solve them quickly.
Smart Bases that incorporate commercial IoT technologies in buildings, facilities, etc., force protection at bases as well as maritime and littoral environments, health and personnel monitoring, monitoring and Justin- time equipment maintenance.
Personal Sensing, Soldier Healthcare
The combination of IoT sensors (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels and blood glucose) through body area networks will allow the health of the soldier to be monitored in real time. Soldiers can be alerted of abnormal states such as dehydration, sleep deprivation, elevated heart rate or low blood sugar and, if necessary, warn a medical response team in a base hospital.
The soldiers are equipped with special helmets with integrated control-sensors to detect concussion and other brain traumas. Small, intelligent telemetric health monitoring and healthcare devices are more and more frequently used in combat situation, therefore the first aid/healthcare service can be provided without any staff for soldiers. The Tempus Pro deployed by US, British and Norwegian Army is an advanced system that can monitor virtual signals.
Battlefield Awareness, C4ISR
Today, the military gathers data through sensors on a range of platforms, including aircraft, weapon systems, ground vehicles, and even troops in the field. Military IoT will use sensors deployed on different platforms like radars, video-cameras, on unmanned aerial vehicles, infrared or passive infrared sensors unattended ground sensors, and portable devices
The data gathered is fed through Command, Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems that process and disseminate the most mission-critical information, such as the position of an inbound threat These data can be integrated and used for a common operational picture supporting the decision making by commanders, improved coordination and control on the operational area.
IoT can enable a vital role by collecting, analyzing, and delivering the synthesized information in real time for expeditious decision making. This enhances Situational awareness that encompasses a wide range of activities in the battlefield to gain information on enemy’s intent, capability and actual position. IoT can enhance Battlefield Awareness from global, to company, platoon and squad commanders down to single soldiers level.
In fire-control systems, end-to-end deployment of sensor networks and digital analytics enable fully automated responses to real-time threats, and deliver firepower with pinpoint precision. Munitions can also be networked, allowing smart weapons to track mobile targets or be redirected in flight.
The integrated marine ballistic missile defense system Aegis applies high performance computer and radar technology to monitor and aim at enemy targets. It was used first time by US Marine Corps and was followed by deployment by Australian, Japanese, Spanish, Norwegian and Korean Marine Corps. The high preciseness AN/SPY3 radar system can detect, monitor and direct missiles completely automatically and simultaneously to 100 different targets.
The IoT technology can be applied even during military training, including fully immersive virtual simulations for soldiers’ training. The different combat situations can be modeled by virtual reality. The positions and physiological condition of soldiers are detected by sensors during the military training. The obtained video- and audiodata can be evaluated later anytime.
One of the simulation systems used by several armies including the US army and Hungarian Defense Forces is the MILES. It can simulate real combat situations like the well-known laser tag game. The sensors attached to the uniform of the soldier detect the laser light, count the detections and provides a sound signal. The newer version of MILES is more complicated and can simulate combat situation with combined arms.
Perimeter security of smart bases
Using stolen credentials or posing as civilians, bad actors can gain entry to military installations. Active and passive IoT sensors can collect fingerprints, iris scans, and other biometric data to identify people to single out those who might be a danger.
Energy management, smart military bases
The IoT technology can be applied in military application and build smart military bases using the concept of smart cities that are already introduced to practice. The smart military bases would be such facilities that are able to optimize the energy resources of the military bases using the inherent properties of the technology. These bases would contribute to the comfort feeling of the employer of the base, monitor the different events in the base and register the entry and exit of the staff.
Small projects aiming the optimization of energy support were already running like the 2015 NATO Smart Energy initiative that had a military operation in military training base in Bakony-mountain in Hungary.
The DOD has been using IoT in various ways for years, Pellegrino noted, especially for managing its energy usage and physical infrastructure. Connected energy management solutions have allowed the military to reduce total energy consumption by 23 percent since 2002. The military has about 8,000 smart meters installed, with 66 percent of them reporting to an integrated management system. Connected water management has allowed the military to cut portable water use intensity by 27 percent since 2007, he said.
NATO task group to examine applicability of IoT to Military
These IoT networks will need to deal with multiple threats from adversaries, Pellegrino said, including physical attacks on infrastructure, direct energy attacks, jamming of radiofrequency channels, attacks on power sources for IoT devices, electronic eavesdropping and malware.
Challenges and Requirements for Military internet of things (MIOT)
There is great potential for IoT technologies to revolutionize modern warfare, leveraging data and automation to deliver greater lethality and survivability to the warfighter while reducing cost and increasing efficiency. However the successful development and deployment of IoT technologies across the military requires many challenges to be solved:
- In contrast to commercial deployments that mainly focus on systems with fixed sensors/devices Military internet of things (MIOT) shall consist of large number of mobile things such as UAVs, Aircrafts, tanks e.t.c. The mobile IoT paradigm invalidates many of the assumptions of traditional wireless sensor networks, especially with regards to wireless technologies and protocols. In particular, mobile IoT devices would find it quite difficult to connect with each other and other components of the IoT network in the presence of mobility, intermittent connectivity and RF link variability.
- Deployment Features: One of the biggest constraints in a battlefield environment is power consumption. IoT devices are likely to be powered by batteries or solar power, and charged on-the-move from solar panels, trucks, or even by motion while walking. In either case, they should last for extended periods of time (at least for the duration of the mission). Therefore, devices and sensors need to be power-efficient.
- Challenges related to reliability and dependability, especially when IoT becomes mission critical. Equipment should fulfill the requirements imposed and be compliant with the considerations from military standards (e.g., MIL-STD 810G, MIL-STD 461F, MIL-STD-1275). IoT devices should be ruggedized and prepared to operate under extreme environmental conditions.
- Security challenges related to co-existence and interconnection of military and civilian IoT networks. Security concerns are the main issue holding back the military’s use of the Internet of Things. Some potential adversaries have advanced cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, and everything connected to the Internet is potentially vulnerable to attack.
- Node Capture Attacks: In a node capture attack, the adversary can capture and control the node or device in IoT via physically replacing the entire node, or tampering with the hardware of the node or device.
- Electronic Warfare: Another challenge to IoT implementation is that it makes systems vulnerable to electronic warfare. Most IoT technologies communicate wirelessly on radio frequencies. Adversaries can use relatively unsophisticated methods like RF jamming to block these signals, rendering the devices unable to communicate with backbone infrastructure.
- Information management challenges for military application of IoT – trustworthiness, pedigree, provenance, and enabling military commanders and missions to benefit from IoT generated information.
IoT can serve the warfighter better with more intelligence and more ways to coordinate actions amongst themselves. In 20 years the IoT will be ubiquitous, Yet for the Army and wider military to make the most of IoT, it will need to rely on heterogeneous and flexible networks that continue to operate in environments with spotty connectivity, and don’t place burdens on soldiers, said Pellegrino, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategic integration.
Pellegrino said some connected devices will be intelligent, and others will be “marginally intelligent” but that connectivity will spread everywhere, from munitions to weapons, robotics, vehicles and wearable devices. All of these devices will generate an enormous amount of data, he said, and the military needs to figure out how to make that data useful.
The CIA and Defense Information Security Agency (DISA) are working with commercial companies to bring the cloud and software to secure government networks. Thus, the infrastructure for dealing with the data volume of tactical IoT applications is, potentially, already in place.
“All of these devices are going to be performing a massive variety of tasks,” Pellegrino said, including recommendations on where and when to attack and defend, and which of them will need to be coordinated.
Vulnerability of Military Internet of Things
Security equipment is also vulnerable to exploitation by politically and criminally motivated hackers. Security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger gained unauthorized access to the smart-rifle’s software via its WiFi connection and exploited various vulnerabilities in its proprietary software. The TP750 was tricked into missing the target and not firing the bullet. Recently IoT devices are themselves used for attacks such as when an internet-connected fridge was used as a botnet to send spam to tens of thousands of Internet users.
Military IoT networks will also need to deal with multiple threats from adversaries, said Army’s John Pellegrino deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategic integration, including physical attacks on infrastructure, direct energy attacks, jamming of radiofrequency channels, attacks on power sources for IoT devices, electronic eavesdropping and malware.
DARPA has launched Leveraging the Analog Domain for Security (LADS) Program for developing revolutionary approaches for securing Military Internet of things. LADS will develop a new protection paradigm that separates security-monitoring functionality from the protected system, focusing on low-resource, embedded and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
NATO has set up RTO task group (IST-147) that would select a scenario to examine applicability of IoT to military operations including base operations, situational awareness, boundary surveillance including harbour, energy management, and etc. It shall also access the risk of applying IoT technologies in the scenario. Based on this risk assessment, models for security and trust management that address the most significant risks will be proposed. Mitigation measures may include: Managing identity, credentials and rights of IoT devices and users; Object level protection and trust; and Assessment of available or emerging commercial security solutions. It shall also define an IoT architecture or architectures that might be used in military situations taking into account existing IoT architectures used in other domains.
New technologies required to power IoT
State-of-the-art (SOA) sensors use active electronics to monitor the environment for the external trigger, consuming power continuously and limiting the sensor lifetime to durations of months or less. In addition, it increases the cost of deployment, either by necessitating the use of large, expensive batteries or by demanding frequent battery replacement. It also increases Warfighter exposure to danger.
DARPA’s N-ZERO program intends to extend the lifetime of remotely deployed communications and environmental sensors from months to years, by supporting projects that demonstrate the ability to continuously and passively monitor the environment, waking an electronic circuit only upon the detection of a specific trigger signature. DARPA’s N-ZERO program can also enable the future billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that shall be deployed ‘everywhere’ and to be accessed ‘any time’ from ‘anywhere’.
US Army’s Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA)
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has established an Enterprise approach to address the challenges of the Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) by creating a Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA) with private sector and government researchers. The overall objective of the CRA is to develop the fundamental understanding of dynamically-composable, adaptive, goal-driven IoBTs to enable predictive analytics for intelligent command and control and battlefield services.
The IoBT can be summarized as a set of interdependent and interconnected entities that are dynamically composed to meet multiple mission goals, capable of adapting to acquire and analyze data necessary to predict behaviors/activities, self-aware, continuously learning, autonomous, and autonomic. The IoBT CRA aims to develop the underlying science of pervasive, heterogeneous sensing and actuation to enhance tactical Soldier and Mission Command autonomy, miniaturization, and information analytic capabilities against adversarial influence and control of the information battlespace.
The ability of the Army to understand, predict, adapt, and exploit the vast array of internet worked things that will be present of the future battlefield is critical to maintaining and increasing its competitive advantage. The explosive growth of technologies in the commercial sector that exploits the convergence of cloud computing, ubiquitous mobile communications, networks of data-gathering sensors, and artificial intelligence presents an imposing challenge for the Army. These Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will give our enemies ever increasing capabilities that must be countered, but commercial developments do not address the unique challenges that the Army will face in using them.
The IoBT is the realization of pervasive computing, communication, and sensing where everything will be a sensor and potentially a processor (i.e. increased number of heterogeneous devices, connectivity, and communication) where subsequent information is of a scale unseen before. The battlespace itself will consist of active red (enemy), blue (friendly), and gray (non-participant) resources, where deception will be the norm, the environment (e.g. megacities and rural) will be dynamic, and ownership and other boundaries will be diverse and transient.
These IoBT characteristics all translate into increased complexity for the warfighter, particularly because current, commonly available, interconnected “things” will exist in the battlefield and be increasingly intelligent, obfuscated, and pervasive. These IoBT characteristics all translate into increased complexity for the warfighter, requiring situation-adaptive responses, selective collection/processing and real time sensemaking over massive heterogeneous data.
The CRA consists of three main research areas: Device/Information Discovery, Composition, and Adaptation, Autonomous & Autonomic Actuation Enabling Intelligent Services, and Distributed Asynchronous Processing and Analytics of Things. The ultimate goal is to deliver intelligent, agile, and resilient decisional overmatch at significant standoff and op-tempo by enriching the theory and experimental methods for complex event processing, with compact representations and efficient pattern evaluation.
Challenges and Limitations
While MIoT/BIoT provides many benefits, there are also challenges and limitations to consider. One of the primary challenges is cybersecurity. With so many devices connected to a network, there is an increased risk of hacking or cyber attacks. Military networks must be secured to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information or control of military assets.
Another challenge is interoperability. Different military assets may use different communication protocols, which can make it difficult to connect them into a cohesive network. Standards must be established to ensure that all devices can communicate with each other seamlessly.
MIoT/BIoT has the potential to revolutionize military operations by providing increased situational awareness, improved decision-making, enhanced efficiency, and reduced casualties. However, there are challenges that must be addressed, such as cybersecurity and interoperability. Governments and military organizations must be willing to invest in MIoT/BIoT if they want to maintain information dominance on the battlefield. MIoT/BIoT is the future of military operations, and those who embrace it will have a significant advantage over their adversaries.