The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL) is spearheading an initiative to change the status quo and bring a new real-time monitoring capability to military installations and the warfighter.
ERDC-CERL, in partnership with Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center and industry partner Picogrid, Inc., located in Hawthorne, California, is leading a National Defense Center for Energy and Environment funded project demonstrating the use of real-time satellite-connected monitoring technology at the Barry M. Goldwater Range East (BMGR East) in Arizona, in cooperation with the 56th Range Management Office at Luke Air Force Base.
The National Defense Center for Energy and Environment (NDCEE) serves as a national resource for advancing technologies and processes that address high-priority environmental, safety, occupational health, and energy challenges. Created by Congressional mandate in 1991, the NDCEE works to integrate environment, safety, occupational health, and energy (ESOHE) impact decisions into the life cycle planning of DOD activities through technology insertion.
Military bases rely on in-person patrols and unattended ground sensors to secure sensitive training activities, prevent accidents in active training ranges and meet environmental requirements. Current monitoring methods are labor intensive and do not always provide adequate coverage, leading to long detection times, high costs and potential gaps in monitoring capability.
David Delaney, the principal investigator on the project, says the goal is to provide resource managers and security personnel with improved situational awareness about what is happening in and around large military ranges in real-time.
“Traditionally, this has been outside the coverage of monitoring infrastructure and relied on roving vehicles for operational and security processes,” he said. “It is important to create and demonstrate an enterprise-wide process for using this type of technology to address DOD-centric issues.”
The satellite-connected technology provides an effective way of transmitting data from ground-based sensors, such as camera traps, surveillance cameras and weather stations, without the need for manual data retrieval or installation of extensive ground infrastructure.
“We’re able to detect potential issues and threats to installation security and to monitor important natural and cultural resources in real time, which provides a better compliance posture with Integrated Natural and Cultural Resource Management Plans (INRMP/ICRMP) and helps resource managers be more proactive instead of reactive when it comes to managing their resources,” said Delaney.
"It’s a real game changer,” said Aaron Alvidrez, wildlife biologist for the 56th Range Management Office. “We are significantly improving our monitoring efforts."
Since installation at BMGR East, the team has had live 24/7 monitoring of remote and undeveloped areas where personnel have been historically limited to manual inspections and patrols. The system allows users to monitor far-flung remote sites in real time from the safety and comfort of their office, while the built-in artificial intelligence alerts users of important events, such as wildlife presence or trespassers at restricted sites.
“The technology helps expand the effectiveness of natural and cultural resource managers, security and range operations teams, so they can spend time responding to issues, not searching for them,” said Martin Slosarik, a technical manager at Picogrid.
The collaboration team hopes this platform can be applied across military installations for automating physical security processes and streamlining INRMP and ICRMP compliance in order to further the Armed Services installation modernization efforts and provide a contribution to programs, such as the Virtual Testbed for Installation Mission Effectiveness.