In this two part article, Dr Noel Greis describes an application using the Saffron Sensemaking Engine and battlefield sensors to help make real-time decisions and manage transactions in the military supply chain.
In the battlefield it’s very important to have what the US military calls Situational Awareness.
When you’re aware of the situation, you’re aware of the resources that you have, the resources that are needed and anything that would describe the current situation or affect the need for resources.
Around the time of the Iraq war the Bush administration placed a very strong emphasis on bringing technology onto the battlefield. The US sought a more networked, information-rich battlefield environment.
A key aspect of that effort was having the right resources in the right place at the right time.
Making sense of an organic, ad hoc, real time process.
“Johnny, I’m really running low… you’ve got to get X to me and you’ve got to get it to me in the next three hours!”
This is a typical supply chain conversation. Reactive, and dependant on people interpreting events as they notice them. A management approach that gets less effective as the complexity of the supply chain increases and likelihood of unforeseen events goes up.
In our application Boeing had a classic resupply mission - whether it was resupply of water, of gasoline, of ammunition, anything that might be needed.
The idea was to gather information in real time from the battlefield and use Saffron to make decisions to do with managing the transactions in the supply chain.
The world is becoming sensored.
Whether it’s from vehicles that are in the battlefield, from aircraft above the battlefield, or from the actual humans that are in the field, we can bring all of that information together and make decisions about how to respond.
The battlefield is an increasingly sensored environment. You have sensors on all the vehicles. You may have sensors on the soldiers. You have sensors everywhere. The application gathered information from all of the platforms and all the individuals.
We created a system where we had situational awareness of everything that was happening in the battlefield as well as along with the supply chain.
We pushed all this data into our Saffron engine within a decision support environment to make recommendations about how to launch a resupply mission, when to launch it and what route to take.
You’re using Saffron to not only observe but to make decisions. In this case decisions about how to resupply from forward positioning stations or from a port or from any place where you would draw assets.
Many technologies came together in this particular application. Saffron was the core engine that we used to interpret the information. But we had to have other technologies that would that would bring data from the various sources – from the vehicles, from the individuals, networking software, and then software that enabled information-sharing across all these elements.