Situational Awareness: Rugged Electronics that Enhance Battlefield Intelligence – Part 3: Distribute


Enhancing Situational Awareness 

In parts one and two of our blog series on situational awareness, we examined the importance of battlefield intelligence in critical decision making. We dove deeper into the technologies and electronics that enhance situational awareness, and ultimately mission success and safety. 

We started first with capture—covering how information is collected before it is interpreted by operators on the battlefield thanks to tools such as cameras, sensors, radar and unmanned systems. In our second blog, we turned our focus to how data is processed. We dove deeper into how mission computers and rugged displays (including DSE’s own FHDRM) take these signals, camera feeds and other inputs to help operators make real-time decisions with collected intelligence.

In our final post, we will cover the last step in this process: distribution. 


Part Three: Distribute

Once data has been collected and processed, it’s time for it to be distributed. In this third installment, we will take a deeper look at which technologies, tools and processes are used in order to distribute information to crew on and off the battlefield.

This critical step has important applications not only for real-time decision making, but also for enhancing future operations through review and training. 


Video Hubs

During ground vehicle operations where multiple cameras are simultaneously capturing video, a video hub is often used to switch between video feeds and to repeat video from one display to another. Video hubs can help switch these signals automatically through user-defined settings, such as switching sources on a certain cadence or switching to a rear-view video feed when a vehicle is put in reverse. Ordnance detection systems can also dictate a change in video source following identification of an incoming threat.In addition, sources may be switched manually, such as when a vehicle commander finds something of note in the field view and pushes a particular video view to crew members. 

By appropriately distributing information and video sources throughout the vehicle, video hubs can help vehicle operators make more informed decisions—from avoiding hazards in the road to changing course altogether. 

DSE has a long history of developing MIL-Spec video hubs for ground vehicles, including the VH3 and VH4. Both of these rugged video hubs are designed with demanding environments in mind, featuring fully-sealed enclosures with a miniature footprint. The VH3 supports composite video, NTSC and PAL formats, while the VH4 enables high-quality video processing with SD-SDI, HD-SDI and 3G-SDI inputs/outputs. 

Embedded DVR Systems

DVR, or digital video recorder, systems are essential in the distribution of mission-critical data. Not only do these systems allow for incoming video to be recorded and evaluated in-vehicle, but also they permit video to be distributed to commanding officers for operational review at a later time.  

DVRs can typically be found as standalone “black box” devices that record at all times, or as an integrated portion of a display that allows for incoming video to also be viewed.

DSE’s own embedded DVR systems, such as the PSM, support image capture, secure erase, encryption level security, on-screen playback and removable media. In addition, these highly ruggedized displays offer ASCII or HEX code (via CANBus, RS232, or RS422) protocol for control of external systems and/or internal display features.



Communication Channels

We can’t mention information distribution in the context of situational awareness without touching on the many communications channels that enable intelligence to be shared outside of the vehicle in real-time. 

This includes traditional methods, such as radio or SATCOM, satellite communications. These technologies allow for the near-instantaneous transfer of information from an in-field unit to commanders and other forces anywhere around the globe. As technology continues to advance, more and more rapid and reliable methods of data distribution are available, including distribution via gigabit ethernet. 

DSE products support a number of these communication formats to interoperate with various onboard systems or ancillary devices, including radios, computers, switches and more. 


Closing the Loop on Situational Awareness

Situational awareness can be summarized as the process of capturing, processing and distributing intelligence in order to make more informed decisions. Not far from the age old saying “knowledge is power,” greater situational awareness is the cornerstone of mission success and safety. 

From the first use of radio in World War I, to the modern military’s application of drone-based systems to detect explosives, as technology evolves, so do the tools and products that enable intelligence and safety on the battlefield.