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Military or Battlefield Internet of Things(MIoT /BIoT) enabled by convergence of multiple technologies

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 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.


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.  The military has begun taking steps towards implementing IoT technologies—some troops have been issued with helmets containing built-in monitoring devices to detect potential concussions and other brain injuries.


Internet of Things has evolved due to the convergence of multiple technologies, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems.  Traditional fields of embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, control systems, automation (including home and building automation), and others all contribute to enabling the Internet of Things.



Sensors are essential components of MIOT and shall include sensors like mobile phone sensors, chemical / biosensors, EO/infrared sensors, environment sensors, Chemical and Biological sensors, medical sensors, Radar, Sonar, and RFID. Applications may also include navigational sensors like GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and IMUs. The actuators, which induce motion, may be electric, hydraulic, and pneumatic type. Guns, tanks may also be considered type of actuators in for integrated fire control applications.


The sensors and actuators should be small size, low in cost, and generally have limited memory and computing capability. The advances in MEMS, Nanotechnology and Biotechnology need to be leveraged to develop nanoscale and energy efficient sensors and actuators. There is requirement for software such as operating systems that are deployable in low-power IoT devices and support device connectivity.


Sensor technology is evolving fast. EO/IR sensors, radar, sonars, motion or sound detectors have their capabilities augmented as the technology they incorporate improves. For example, EO/IR can see further, at much tougher climatic and atmospheric conditions, whether it is day or night, compared to just a few years ago.


Phased-array radars can multi-task, simultaneously collecting intelligence in the land, maritime or air domains without losing range coverage or accuracy. Moreover, subcomponent technology allows those sensors to be manufactured in miniature, allowing their integration in a multitude of platforms.


Therefore, developments in components technology increase the capabilities of IoMT backbones rapidly. It will also change the commercial landscape, as subsystems manufacturers will remain at the forefront of the market, closing the gap with platform manufacturers.

Health monitoring systems

The sensors domain does not only include the aforementioned examples (radar, sonar, etc.). During the last few years, the defence industry has been developing highly technological sensors that are able to monitor a system’s health status. These tools do more than simply alert the operator of a platform to a malfunction. They combine sensor input and data analytics to offer predictive analytics data for failures or malfunctions long before they appear.


Spending on logistics, in the form of spare parts and life-cycle costs, will be reduced as users will be able to streamline their logistical supply chain, while at the same time increasing the availability of systems and platforms.


Robust Communication and Network technologies

In order to make effective use of IoT, the devices must be able to connect to global networks to transmit sensor data and receive actionable analytics. One significant challenge when adopting commercial IoT in military operations is that military networks, especially tactical ones, usually do not connect to the Internet or have restricted, limited, and expensive (e.g., using SATCOM) Internet access. There is also unavailability of network services in remote terrains, deserts, oceans, and mountains. Therefore military should invest in resilient, flexible capabilities to extend Internet connectivity in denied areas utilizing technologies like high-altitude communications relay platforms, and Microsatellites.


Communication of data between devices is a power consuming task, specially, wireless communication. Therefore, new communications and routing protocols are required that facilitates communication with low power consumption and with low memory. Communication technologies are required that are robust to signal interference and/or loss of network operation.


Most battlefield military IoT networks shall operate over tactical radios. There is need to develop next generation of high-bandwidth radios that could make these integrated networks a reality. Cognitive radio and dynamic spectrum management techniques are required to automatically overcome bad conditions in the communications environment. Systems should be robust to jamming, supporting techniques to actively track jamming signals and applying automatic jamming avoidance measures.


Processing and Information Management

As MIOT things collect huge amount of sensor data, they require large compute and storage resources are required to analyze, store and process the data.


The current most common compute and storage resources are cloud based because the cloud offers massive data handling, scalability, and flexibility. However this may not be sufficient to meet the requirements of many MIOT applications, due to resource-constrained military networks, issues of latency, reliability and the security. In military applications, particularly those oriented toward real-time battlefield understanding, synthesis of actionable information from diverse data sources in near real-time becomes an important requirement.


New techniques and emerging concepts like fog computing that can bring some compute and storage resources to the edge of the network instead of relying everything on the cloud. Both the fog and cloud computing may be required for optimal performance of MIOT applications.


For military systems, an additional challenge emerges from the management of cognitive load for soldiers. Should distracting or irrelevant (or worse, deceptive) information be transmitted to them, it may adversely impact soldier performance or lead to incorrect actions being taken.


As the data generated by IoT infrastructures grows exponentially, methods for limiting the amount of raw data to process and to prioritize the transmission of the most information produced by analytics become increasingly necessary. Military network usage requires methods to prioritize content transmission, based on both intrinsic information quality and the needs of soldiers.


Processors and transmitters

Considering that IoMT is based on the existence of a safe, secure, and capable network, powerful processors will remain a core component for processing big data at a fast pace. Moreover, with data being transmitted wirelessly through radio communication systems, transmitters need to be capable of transmitting larger volumes of data further and faster.


Data storage

The defence industry is working on a variety of solutions aimed at tackling the technical issues related to the storage of large volumes of data. Many private companies, including Amazon, are offering storage solutions to government users, including the US DoD. However, a data storage capability for combat operations will have to comply with many technical specifications and would probably have to be separate from purely COTS solutions.


In the civilian market, IoT is becoming the next cloud battleground. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba and IBM are vying with each other to provide the cloud infrastructure that will connect and run the world’s connected things.


Various IoT-specific cloud services have been launched to enable fast and efficient data storage and processing in the cloud, mainly on infrastructure as a service (IaaS), but also on platform as a service (PaaS) solutions. Vendors are increasingly looking to verticalise these to attract industry-specific workloads.


GIS based visualization

Military IoT deployed for situation awareness requires visualization that displays the environment and conditions of smart things. There is need new 3D display technologies for visualization of smart things that provides more information about their situation.


Network management

The network management of military devices and systems with diverse capabilities are challenging. Software solutions spanning security and device management that allow IoT devices to seamlessly discover each other, dynamically communicate and interact with nearby devices is required


AI and analytics

The amount of data that is expected to generate by billions of IoT devices have to handle by the Big Data. Advances in data analytics have allowed for the efficient analysis of the rapidly increasing amounts of data created by IoT devices. AI is a key element for the optimal use of IoMT, as it allows for more efficient analysis of the vast amounts of data that flow at a high rate from an increasingly large number of edge devices.


New advanced analytical tools and algorithms are required that can be used to examine large amounts of battlefield data to uncover subtle or hidden threats and threat activities, correlations, and other insights.


Defence/security-related intelligence mainly comes in the form of open-source intelligence (OSINT), logistics, support and maintenance, and battlefield intelligence. With around 80% of the information available on the internet, other media sources, and social networks, analysis has relied on expert systems.


Big data analytics can scan through a larger volume of data and at the same time reduce the associated noise using AI technologies, such as machine learning. Logistics, support and maintenance hugely benefit from big data analytics.


Predictive or condition-based maintenance can reduce costs and increase the availability of platforms. Depending on the customer and their security concerns, as well as the available industrial capabilities IoMT, in conjunction with big data analytics and performance-based logistics (PBL), is a highly-promising combination for the defence industry.


Finally, battlefield intelligence IoMT is expected to maintain a human-centric or man-in-the-loop approach. Due to its nature, which involves firing against targets, especially when it comes to operations in civilian areas, human identification and clearance for firing will always be necessary. There are many ethical dilemmas that arise from this necessity, which are expected to act as barriers to the rapid expansion of IoMT in the field of armed unmanned systems. For this specific market segment, it is important for a user to invest in the quality and quantity of its sensors, so as to be able to recognise and identify targets.


AI still experiences issues related to causality. For example, machines still cannot always tell the difference between a man holding a baseball bat and a weapon, and, if it does come up with an answer, it cannot always explain why. That is an extremely important aspect especially for the security domain, where unmanned systems with AI technology, especially when operating in swarms, could eventually carry out their missions near civilians and civilian assets.


In terms of the moral dilemmas posed, people are very reluctant to have in their vicinity an unmanned system that could decide for itself what or who consists a threat, even if the accuracy rate of the algorithm is the highest possible. Many defence contractors already offer their solutions for OSINT analysis and systems’ health monitoring, which are also available to the civilian market as well. Examples of such companies are Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, ESRI, and Palantir Technologies.




For Military to exploit the potential of MIOT while mitigating the risks associated with MIOT deployments, the first step is to take a comprehensive look at securing the MIOT technology ecosystem. Security concerns are the main issue holding back the military’s use of the Internet of Things.


MIOT requires security of everything from distributed sensors and devices, distributed computing environment to cloud, to end users, information and operational technologies. The basic pillar of any security-related communications is security, confidentiality, integrity and authentication services. The network also needs to be safe guarded against malicious intrusions and was of disruptions. The data residing at the sensor nodes is of paramount importance. The sensor a node needs to physically safeguard as-well-as the data needs to be stored in an encrypted form.


However, in providing security solutions, suppliers have had trouble going beyond their traditional domains. For example, operators’ IoT security offers have mostly been about device authentication and network reliability. Clearly, breaches can occur at the device level, network level, app-level, storage level, and data level. There is some work in progress to help vendors and operators come together.


For example, AT&T has joined the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance, working with IBM, Nokia, Palo Alto Networks, Symantec, and Trustonic to offer end-to-end solutions. End-to-end security is a must for widespread IoT adoption. Leaders in unified threat management are Check Point Software, FireEye, Fortinet, Mimecast, and Palo Alto Networks. Major IT vendors such as Cisco, IBM, Dell and HPE also offer compelling IoT security solutions.


 US Army’s Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA)

Through its Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) Collaborative Research Alliance, the Army has assembled a team to conduct basic and applied research involving the explosive growth of interconnected sensing and actuating technologies that include distributed and mobile communications, networks of information-driven devices, and artificially intelligent services, and how ubiquitous “things” present imposing adversarial challenges for the Army. Alliance members leading IoBT research areas include UIUC, University of Massachusetts, University of California-Los Angeles and University of Southern California. Other members include Carnegie Mellon University, University of California Berkeley and SRI International.


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 U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has established an Enterprise approach to address the challenges resulting from the Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) that couples multi-disciplinary internal research with extramural research and collaborative ventures. ARL intends to establish a new collaborative venture (the IoBT CRA) that seeks to develop the foundations of IoBT in the context of future Army operations. The Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA) will consist of private sector and government researchers working jointly to solve complex problems. The overall objective 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.


For the purposes of this CRA, an Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) can be summarized as a set of interdependent and interconnected entities (e.g. sensors, small actuators, control components, networks, information sources, etc.) or “things” that are: dynamically composed to meet multiple mission goals; capable of adapting to acquire and analyze data necessary to predict behaviors/activities, and effectuate the physical environment; selfaware, continuously learning, autonomous, and autonomic, where the things interact with networks, humans, and the environment in order to enable predictive decision augmentation that delivers intelligent command and control and battlefield services.


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 objective of the IoBT CRA is 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; delivering intelligent, agile, and resilient decisional overmatch at significant standoff and op-tempo.


The IoBT CRA consists of three main research areas: Device/Information Discovery, Composition, and Adaptation to establish theoretical foundations that facilitate goal-driven discovery, adaptation, and composition of devices and data at unprecedented scale, complexity, and rate of acquisition; Autonomous & Autonomic Actuation Enabling Intelligent Services to advance the theory and algorithms for complexity and nonlinear dynamics of real-time actuation and robustness with a focus on autonomic system properties (e.g. self-optimizing, self-healing and self-protecting behaviors); and Distributed Asynchronous Processing and Analytics of Things to enrich the theory and experimental methods for complex event processing, with compact representations and efficient pattern evaluation.

Distributed and Collaborative Intelligent Systems (DCIST) Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA)

Through its Distributed and Collaborative Intelligent Systems (DCIST) Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA), the Army will perform enabling basic and applied research to extend the reach, situational awareness, and operational effectiveness of large heterogeneous teams of intelligent systems and Soldiers against dynamic threats in complex and contested environments and provide technical and operational superiority through fast, intelligent, resilient and collaborative behaviors. Alliance members include the University of Pennsylvania as the lead research organization. Individual research area leads are MIT and Georgia Tech. Other consortium members are University of California San Diego, University of California Berkeley and University of Southern California.


DCIST concentrates its research into three main areas: distributed intelligence, led by MIT, where researchers will establish the theoretical foundations of multi-faceted distributed networked intelligent systems combining autonomous agents, sensors, tactical super-computing, knowledge bases in the tactical cloud, and human experts to acquire and apply knowledge to affect and inform decisions of the collective team; heterogeneous group control, let by Georgia Tech, to develop theory and algorithms for control of large autonomous teams with varying levels of heterogeneity and modularity across sensing, computing, platforms, and degree of autonomy; and adaptive and resilient behaviors, led by the University of Pennsylvania, to develop theory and experimental methods for heterogeneous teams to carry out tasks under the dynamic and varying conditions in the physical world. In addition to these three main research areas, research will be pursued along three underlying research themes in Learning, Autonomous Networking, and Cross Disciplinary Experimentation.


The U.S. Army’s operational competitive advantage in a multi-domain battle will be realized through technology dominance, said ARL Director Dr. Philip Perconti.


References and Resources also include:



Cite This Article

International Defense Security & Technology (September 26, 2022) Military or Battlefield Internet of Things(MIoT /BIoT) enabled by convergence of multiple technologies. Retrieved from
"Military or Battlefield Internet of Things(MIoT /BIoT) enabled by convergence of multiple technologies." International Defense Security & Technology - September 26, 2022,
International Defense Security & Technology April 21, 2020 Military or Battlefield Internet of Things(MIoT /BIoT) enabled by convergence of multiple technologies., viewed September 26, 2022,<>
International Defense Security & Technology - Military or Battlefield Internet of Things(MIoT /BIoT) enabled by convergence of multiple technologies. [Internet]. [Accessed September 26, 2022]. Available from:
"Military or Battlefield Internet of Things(MIoT /BIoT) enabled by convergence of multiple technologies." International Defense Security & Technology - Accessed September 26, 2022.
"Military or Battlefield Internet of Things(MIoT /BIoT) enabled by convergence of multiple technologies." International Defense Security & Technology [Online]. Available: [Accessed: September 26, 2022]

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