This paper describes a collection of scenarios (or scenario fragments) from the Virtual Office (VO) application domain. This work is part of a larger project, Scaling Object Services Architectures to the Internet, being performed by Object Services and Consulting (OBJS). The overall goal of this project is to enable the rapid construction of Internet-enabled applications for electronic commerce, command and control, and virtual enterprises. As part of the development of this project's scope and content, we have developed related papers describing:
This paper represents the next stage of the process: exploring a wide range of VO scenarios in both military and civilian applications, particularly those that considerably extend activities beyond those that might be imagined to take place in a conventional "office" setting. The intent of describing these scenarios is to:
Based on the domain scenarios in this paper, we have prepared an initial compilation of the technologies required to support such scenarios ("Enabling Technology for Virtual Office Applications"). With this background, we have targeted the area of scaling object service architectures to the Internet, and in particular the problems of organizing distributed information spaces and querying and accessing them, as being key enabling technologies to support extended VO applications.
Many different activities could potentially be carried on in a VO, and there are a number of different ways to classify them. For example, a recent book by Don Tapscott, The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence (McGraw-Hill, 1996), includes the following categories of activities that could be carried out using advanced digital technologies:
We have included scenarios in this paper based on the assumption that a primary component of a true VO scenario is a great deal of collaborative activity (whether there is a single "office" or organization involved or not). Thus, many electronic commerce scenarios that do not really involve a great deal of collaboration (buying things on the Internet, banking, etc.) have been omitted, even though, for example, such activities might well be carried out within a VO. By similar reasoning, home office scenarios where the person involved is relatively "solo" have also been omitted. As will probably be clear from the scenarios, practically all Internet services could fit into some type of VO scenario. For example, a news feed service would be relevant if it were used, as it might well be, in a VO scenario (e.g., those conducting a military operation might well track open broadcast sources such as CNN). We have also attempted to include scenarios that (a) come from a variety of application areas, (b) extend activities beyond those that might be imagined to take place in a conventional "office" setting, and (c) are relevant to our DARPA sponsors, but which also illustrate key aspects of advanced civilian applications of VO technology.
In addition to describing the scenarios themselves, comments are occasionally included to point out specific aspects of the technology involved in a scenario, even though identification of technology is the primary subject of the accompanying paper "Enabling Technology for Virtual Office Applications".
The scenarios described in this paper are organized into the following sections:
The Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) scenarios in Section 2 are taken from military applications. Similarly, a number (although not all) of the logistics scenarios that are explicitly described are military in nature. Some readers may question the inclusion of what appear to be strictly military scenarios in the paper, or question their relevance (or at least some of their details) to more general-purpose applications. However, even when the scenarios are military in nature, corresponding situations in other application areas almost always exist, and the scenarios usually represent (sometimes in a particularly focused way) the activities of many civilian enterprises. For example, enterprises besides military ones involve assessing intelligence (e.g., about business conditions and competitors), creating operational and other plans, executing those plans, monitoring progress, and tracking the location of things (e.g., transportation companies must track shipments, trucks, aircraft, and ships). These scenarios thus represent many of the categories of activities cited in the Tapscott book above.
Similarly, at a more detailed level, one of the scenarios describes night vision and other sensors that could be provided to individual soldiers to, for example, enable them to transmit views of what they see to command and control centers. One might wonder what this sort of equipment has to do with civilian applications in general, and with VO applications in particular. However, a civilian repair technician might wear such a sensor (a portable camera) to enable a remote expert to examine a problem encountered by the technician, and give advice on the spot (such a scenario is described in Section 3.2). Telemedicine (see Section 4) also involves the application of such remote sensors. Disaster relief efforts would benefit from such sensors to provide data to a headquarters and to teams in the field. Moreover, while a conventional office might not normally use portable cameras, videoconferencing applications available today use fixed cameras that are roughly the same size and could, with wireless links, be made portable.
Finally, in addition to being relevant to both military and civilian applications, all of the technologies involved in these scenarios are potentially part of the suite of technologies that must, together with the information technologies that are the main thrust of our activities, work within the architectures we are developing .
The Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) scenarios described in this section involve, at a high level of abstraction:
While the idea of an "office" may not seem particularly appropriate in a C4I setting, the concept of a virtual office is highly adaptable to widely varying circumstances and surroundings, and so can be extended to cover not only operations in the (sometimes only relatively!) calm circumstances of a civilian enterprise, but also rapid planning, decision-making, and coordination by officers in vehicles during tactical military operations.
Advanced VO (and related) technology supports the following key aspects of future C4I applications concepts:
Technically, the scenarios highlight a number of things, including:
The paper Force XXI Battle Command, by LTG John E. Miller, describes enhanced battle command facilities for the next century. The paper describes the concept of a battlespace: the use of the entire battlefield and the space around it to apply combat power in a way that decisively affects the enemy. This concept includes not only the physical breadth, depth, and height of the battlefield, but also the operational dimensions of time, tempo, depth, and synchronization. Commanders must seek to dominate the enemy in their battlespace through a comprehensive understanding of geography and terrain, available collection assets, and available weapons. Commanders must also integrate other Services', nations', and agencies' assets with their own to apply their combined effects toward a common intended purpose. The concept of battlespace leads to the concept of battlefield visualization: seeing the relationships between enemy forces, friendly forces, the environment, and the desired operational end state in time, space, and purpose. A clear and complete mental image of the commander's entire battlespace is critical to effective mission accomplishment because it drives the entire planning and execution process.
The paper also describes a number of concepts currently being tested as part of the PRAIRIE WARRIOR 95 Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE). Under the Digitized Battle Staff (DBS) model, the commander has a deputy commander and three planning and operations (P&O) teams. Designed to be rapidly deployable, modular, scaleable, and tailorable, the mobile P&O teams handle the current battle, future battle, and sequel to the future battle. Each team works directly with the commander to carry its respective operation from "cradle to grave." Multifunctional staff members engage in cross-team processes and rely on a commander-focused knowledge base, comprehensive decision support tools, and an information exchange system that virtually collocates the staff and external elements. Software capabilities required to support these concepts include:
These capabilities promise great potential in enhancing a commander's ability to visualize the battlefield. Dynamic distributive overlays allow warfighters to transfer operational graphics quickly by digital means without the accompanying "bulky" terrain data. Because all battle staffs will have loaded the same terrain data base on their computers with a standard, mass-produced CD-ROM, they will share a common relevant picture of the battle once they superimpose the transmitted overlay on their terrain base. Terrain visualization and synchronization tools will empower commanders to plan their assigned missions more effectively.
One of the related demonstrations involves technology to produce a dynamic situation awareness picture of the battlefield. The idea is to equip Army vehicles with GPS receivers and special radios. This will allow the location of these vehicles, to be automatically included in a global picture of the Army ground situation, in order to enhance Situational Awareness. A commander would be presented with a simulated ground picture incorporating both this data and other data.
A related paper, FOCUSED DISPATCH: The Mounted Piece of Force XXI, by MG Larry R. Jordon, describes FOCUSED DISPATCH, another AWE. This also illustrates the use of advanced VO-related technologies. The paper describes advanced systems that increase the commander's situational awareness. For example, they provide the commander with friendly force information that will help reduce fratricide on the battlefield, make maneuver and fires more precise, and will enable battalion task force commanders to make faster and better decisions on the battlefield. The systems enhance brigade and battalion commanders' ability to see the battlefield from their Battle Command Vehicles (BCVs). From their BCVs, they can query the information provided by these systems to provide better command and control to their subordinate units. A Movement Tracking System also affords commanders increased situational awareness by providing them the position of all their logistics assets. Armed with this information, commanders can quickly match their available logistics assets to meet their most pressing logistics requirements.
Another related paper, WARRIOR FOCUS: The Emerging Light Infantry, by MG Jay Hendrix, describes WARRIOR FOCUS, another AWE. This describes the linking of digital C2 and "own-the-night" systems vertically and horizontally, which will provide leaders at all levels with greatly improved situational awareness, and a means for transmitting information rapidly and precisely. Commanders, as a result, will be better able to integrate, apply, and focus their combat power in the most effective ways. Further, because these systems allow commanders to "see" the enemy earlier and respond to him more quickly, commanders will be better able to protect their units and make them more survivable.
Infantrymen participating in the experiment will have many new pieces of equipment that greatly enhance their effectiveness on the battlefield. Several of these new systems allow soldiers and their leaders to communicate critical battlefield information more rapidly and accurately than in the past. The first of these systems is the Dismounted Soldier System Unit (DSSU), a state-of-the-art, hand-held computer that integrates the soldier's video and digital communications. Allowing dismounted soldiers to view and control their DSSUs is their Helmet-Mounted-Display (HMD). Supplementing the DSSU and HMD is the Helmet-Mounted Camera (HMC) that records video snapshots of the tactical situation and can rapidly transmit them to wherever they are needed. Soldiers participating in this AWE have also been provided the Hand-Held Control Unit (HCU), a chest-mounted device that allows them to operate the DSSU which is carried in a pack. Finally, the AN/PRC-139 radio provides digital data and voice communications from a compact and lightweight source. Complementing this digital communications equipment are a number of systems that will allow U.S. light infantry units to dominate any fight that occurs at night, such as thermal sights and night vision goggles.
Digitization and "own-the-night" capabilities will give light infantry forces the capability to mass their fires more rapidly and accurately. Because leaders will have these technological enhancements at their disposal, they will be able to "see" enemy forces earlier, at greater ranges, and more accurately. As a result, light infantrymen will be able to acquire the enemy at the maximum range of their weapons systems. The digital systems should also increase the speed and accuracy of the information and orders exchanged across all the battlefield operating systems. Additionally, these systems can precisely locate every soldier in a unit, helping commanders better track and maneuver their forces. Finally, soldiers and commanders will have a near "real time" understanding of the tactical situation that will allow them to respond quickly and agilely.
The paper Intelligence Support to the Brigade Task Force, by BG Carles W. Thomas, describes new requirements and capabilities related to tactical intelligence support. The paper describes five key capabilities for intelligence at the brigade and battalion level: (1) top-down synthesis, (2) horizontal integration, (3) pull intelligence, (4) bottom-up collection, and (5) common relevant picture.
Before Desert Storm, intelligence was provided to maneuver commanders through a "cascading" architecture in which theater systems fed the corps, corps sensors fed the division, and the division disseminated its intelligence product to the brigades. Restricted communications and extensive processing requirements kept real-time, targetable intelligence from the commanders, who had the shortest reaction times. Moreover, division-level sensors, which could theoretically produce the fidelity and responsiveness needed for the lower-level fighting, were grouped primarily in signals intelligence /electronic warfare (SIGINT/EW) units and were not by themselves accurate enough to support targeting and decision making at these levels.
Top-down synthesis involves each maneuver brigade being assigned a direct support (DS) Military Intelligence (MI) company. This company is a specially designed organization capable of receiving, processing, and correlating direct "top-down" intelligence reporting. Key to this capability is a system that can receive and process acquired information from "vacuum-cleaner-like" sensors, such as broadcast electronic intelligence (ELINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), JSTARS radar Moving Target Indicators, and Synthetic Aperture Radar and video feeds from several echelons of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The MI company also processes information from the division's suite of ground and airborne intelligence and EW (IEW) common sensors. These systems are literally capable of mapping an enemy's radio and radar signature so well that they can be targeted precisely.
With greater volumes of intelligence flowing directly to the brigade, horizontal integration requires the processing and dissemination of intelligence that supports multiple functions and battlefield operating systems simultaneously (e.g., engineer, aviation, fire support, etc.). This is accomplished today by integrating the All Source Analysis System (ASAS) remote workstation into the entire tactical intelligence structure to include the MI company; the brigade tactical operations center (TOC) and command and control vehicle (C2V); as well as maneuver, aviation, and artillery battalions/task forces. As the Army Battle Command System (ABCS) matures, intelligence-unique capabilities on a common work station will replace the ASAS. The key here is the capacity to move information around in a seamless manner. For example, brigade fire support officers ought to be on a local area network with the ASAS in their respective MI company so that they can view direct UAV video and JSTARS data when and where they need it.
A generation of battalion commanders learned during Desert Storm that a significant volume of intelligence pertinent to their needs existed at higher echelons but was not available to them, at least not when they needed it. Their frustration with this relatively inaccessible system led to a demand for pull intelligence: easier access to information available at these higher echelons--and a measure of control over what intelligence they viewed and how it was presented. Commanders wanted the capability to "pull down" intelligence selectively that supported their specific requirements and timelines. The paper describes the forthcoming test of a concept that integrates digital technologies with a direct broadcast satellite's flexible, high data rate communications. This will enable a task force or battalion commander to reach into the ASAS-Common Ground Station information base at the MI company and "pull" a dynamic and continuous stream of tailored intelligence.
It is not necessary to be in an MI battalion to be a collector of intelligence; tactical collection can be done from anywhere on the battlefield. This is the concept of bottom-up collection. Most product improvements to our combat vehicles and aircraft involve the integration of sensor technologies. Linkage of a Longbow Apache millimeter wave radar with JSTARS Ground Station Module (GSM), and their connection to an ASAS, has already been demonstrated. With digitization, it will be a simple task to link other disparate "collection" systems--e.g., the Long Range Advanced Scout Sensor System (LRAS3) and the Bradley Fire Support Team Vehicle (BFIST) into a common reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition (RISTA) network. Moreover, management tools are being developed that will display RISTA sensor locations and their respective "fields of view" with similar views from IEW sensors and UAV telemetry. This capability will allow the construction of a dynamically evolving, graphic depiction of the brigade's total reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) capability. This R&S picture can be overlaid on the commander's automated decision support template to synchronize "eyes on" surveillance of named areas of interest (NAIs) and targeted areas of interest (TAIs). The objective of combining all these systems is to achieve a true union of intelligence gained from ground reconnaissance and aviation surveillance systems.
An overarching objective of the Army Battle Command System is to give commanders access to a common relevant picture of the battlefield that is scaleable to their needs. Two components of this capability are particularly important:
This "fly-through and drive-through" capability is also useful in other scenarios. For example, "Digital Maps Keep the Peace" [Government Computer News, July 8, 1996] describes how digital mapping and visualization technologies were used in the Bosnian peace negotiations in Dayton last year. The map data was used in negotiations on the boundaries of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia. To let negotiators visualize the boundary lines, the mapping team used PowerScene software from Cambridge Research Associates in McLean, Va. The software combines digital terrain elevation data with satellite imagery to create a 3D landscape over which a user can virtually fly. Using classified high-resolution imagery from U.S. military satellites, the team was able to create a map that showed the exact locations of houses, bridges, and road intersections. PowerScene also allowed negotiators to superimpose evolving versions of the boundaries over the terrain map so that they could fly over every virtual kilometer of the boundary. Earlier in the Balkan conflict, the Air Force used PowerScene to let pilots virtually fly over specific portions of Bosnia before departing on the real sorties over the region.
The paper Engineer Force XXI, by LTC Eric Mogren, describes future Army engineer missions and requirements characteristics. Missions include construction operations in support of both combat and OOTW operations (e.g., construction of roads and airfields, base camps, bunkers, fuel and water pipeline systems, construction and disposal of obstacles such as ditches and minefields), and EOD (for unexploded friendly ordnance).
Military engineers will be particularly involved in dealing with digital topographic data. Updated digital maps, capable of three dimensional and sub-surface terrain analysis, will be downlinked to maneuver data bases as changes are known. They will be locally updated to plot obstacle and enemy force locations, and these updates fed to the overall picture. Construction units' effectiveness can be enhanced by hand-held displays performing cut and fill calculations for horizontal construction. GPS transmitters mounted on conventional construction equipment will continually update these displays to provide real time status of construction projects, both to engineers, and as part of the overall battlefield picture. A combination of these facilities would support construction equipment that provide operators with real time depth and grade on a three dimensional heads up display. At the same time, engineers will be linked to and share the maneuver commander's view of the battlefield. In addition, engineers, like their maneuver counterparts, will share in the real time, line item visibility of repair parts and supplies.
For conducting mine-related operations, engineers will use remote mine sensing with direct links to digital maps systems is C2 vehicles, and real time digital displays of remotely delivered and other minefield locations, dimensions, and status. Engineers will also monitor ground sensors for detection of enemy heavy earth moving operations (e.g., involved in the construction of defensive positions). Again, this sensor information would be automatically linked into the overall battlefield picture. Lightweight manpack digitization equipment would be provided for light engineers, to support behind-the lines demolition and recon operations.
The Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID) 96 scenario involves a crisis involving two hypothetical countries, Korona and Kartuna. Korona, the aggressor, is massing ground troops on its southern border poised to conduct military operations against the northern border of Kartuna. Intelligence indicators project a threat to Kartuna's most holy city, Kalena. The scenario includes four "threads", each of which covers a specific aspect of the operation, and each of which is separately described over the timeline of the scenario. Excerpts from each thread are given below (in temporal sequence, but without specific times indicated), to give a flavor of the sorts of collaboration and data exchange that must be supported. (The various acronyms used in the scenario are not expanded here, in the interest of keeping the presentation relatively short. We hope that the general idea is reasonably clear even without a complete understanding of the acronyms. A list of many of these acronyms is provided as an appendix of the paper identified by the JWID96 scenario hyperlink given above.)
Crisis Action Planning Op Thread
Upon Kartuna's request for assistance, situation development and monitoring take place. Allies offer forces to coalition and the CINC provides an initial assessment to CJCS who issues a Warning Order. Planning for CJTF operations with Allies is completed during situation development. Upon receipt of the CJCS Warning Order, which provides the CJCS advisory of forces available, crisis assessment is initiated and initial mission analysis conducted at the CINC level. Sustainment analysis and forces available for planning are provided as supporting data to COA development. A series of strategic COAs (Courses of Action) are reviewed and approved by the CINC and recommended by the CINC to CJCS/NCA. Strategic COA selection and approval occurs at the CJCS/NCA echelon and the JTF Dragon is established in Kartuna. The CJTF conducts operational COA development and selection. Upon receipt of the CJCS Alert Order, CJTF execution planning occurs and an OPORDER is developed. JTF components identify deploying forces, their movement and support requirements, and identify and resolve shortfalls. AFFOR is in the process of developing the air operations plan. The campaign plan is finalized at the JTF and the TPFDD is generated. NAVFOR tasks allied maritime blockade of Kassia. ARFOR tasks allied composite air wing to conduct exercises within Kartuna.
A US SR team sends a spot report to the JSOTF indicating SCUD transporter erector launcher (TEL) movement has occurred and the COP (Common Operational Picture) is updated and disseminated in-theater accordingly.
Intelligence Exchange Op Thread
The USCENTCOM JIC, DIA, CIA, and NSA are providing indications and warning (I&W) data. JIPTL development, targeting analysis, and resource tasking are initiated at the CJTF and a target nomination list is forwarded to the JAOC. An RFI for intelligence/ location data of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat is forwarded from the CJTF to CCJ2, initiating targeting of WMD. Updated intelligence summaries, situation reports, target lists, common operational picture (COP), sensor feeds, Spot Reports, and UAV feeds are available.
Special reconnaissance (SR) operations are being conducted by Special Operations Forces (SOF) units who provide spot reports to the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF). The spot reports are injected into the COP.
The CJTF requests JMCIS interoperability with coalition partners. Allied Forces request SECRET releasable data via message traffic. A request is received at the CJTF from coalition forces for organic data to be included in the MLS data base. JTF J3 asks for labeled organic multimedia data, such as GBS data, to be added to the repository for pull requirements. Data is analyzed and a security label attached prior to input to the MLS repository. The JTF sends an RFI to CCJ2 requesting data (maps, terrain, weather, commercial pubs, etc.) from unclassified sources for users on SIPRNET and JWICS.
The USCENTCOM J2 (CCJ2) tasks the CJTF ACE (ASAS) to prepare IPB products to include: enemy disposition, composition, strength, and activity (SCUD MIELS), weather, terrain, INTSUMs, and overlays as well as IMINT, HUMINT, and SIGINT on Korona; provide imagery and an assessment of Korona naval order of battle (OB) reports on Korona submarine in the port of Kassia; provide location of all MIELs; provide enemy locations in the vicinity of SR teams; provide enemy ground forces and AD in vicinity; disseminate intelligence products (to all demos); provide for Intelink servers to disseminate products of Korona; disseminate products via DMS and broadcast products on Secret and Secret/Releasable networks. All source intelligence is fused.
Updated intelligence summaries (INTSUMs), situation reports (SITREPs), target lists, common operational picture (COP), TIBS, TRAP, TRIXs, sensor feeds, Spot Reports, and UAV feeds are available. ISR data is being generated and keeping track of additional enemy divisions. CCJ3 METOC cell is tasked by the CJTF for a mine drift and wind/seas forecast for mine clearing activities.
An RFI is received at the JSOTF for data regarding the US Embassy in Korona to include maps, blue prints, helicopter landing zones (HLZs), and ingress and egress routes to the international airport. Special reconnaissance (SR) operations are being conducted by Special Operations Forces (SOF) units who provide spot reports to the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF).
Intelligence support of the war fighter includes a broadcast of the INSUM on Intelink at XVIII Arty TOC/DOCC JTF and 1st BCD at AFFOR (broadcast on SIPRNET or other means-receive on ASAS RWS). Receipt of Intelligence Updates is broadcast and is displayed on ASAS RWS. CJTF ACE (ASAS) receives a task from USCENTCOM to disseminate intelligence products via: Intelink servers, DMS, and GBS to disseminate Secret and Secret/Releasable products of Korona.
Total Asset Visibility Op Thread
Upon receipt of Kartuna's request for assistance, CSJC/NCA monitor allied and host nation support agreements while supporting commands, agencies, and services monitor availability of selected depot level assets, monitor status of pre-positioned equipment and stocks, and monitor apportioned force availability and readiness. CCJ4/7 monitors the status of in-theater forces, conducts logistics supportability monitoring, monitors apportioned CSS force status, and conducts overall logistics supportability assessment. Logistics elements are already engaged in material/force flow, sustainment, and readiness monitoring. [See the section on Logistics for further logistics scenario discussion.]
Theater Missile Defense Op Thread
Prior to establishment of the CJTF, theater missile threat assessment is conducted and passive and active TM-related courses of action (COAs) developed. Upon establishment of JTF Dragon, the JTF crisis action team (CAT) and JTF J3 TMD Cell are staffed. The USCENTCOM CAT J3 TMD Cell is activated. Analysis of passive and active TMD tasks, threats, and resources are ongoing at the CINC and CJTF levels. CJTF components are conducting concurrent TMD operational planning. TMD COAs are developed and approved. A TMD force list/TPFDD is generated and TMD sustainment, transportation, and special requirements planning is conducted. An analysis of the TPFDD refinement, TMD CONOPS, and COA refinement is conducted and TMD shortfalls are identified. The ISR provides information on theater missile threat. The CJTF/JTCB conduct targeting and attack mission planning guidance. Known/suspected hostile theater missile launch sites, WMD capabilities, TEL locations, TM-related C4I sites, and TM supporting infrastructure sites are identified and provided as part of the common operational picture (COP). The COP is updated with TM updates. CJTF attack mission resources and assets, as well as nuclear/biological/chemical/radiological defense capabilities, are identified.
Unannounced missile tests, conducted in neighboring Telari, are reported by UK 2 Para. DSP detected launch causes a Missile Launch Warning to be disseminated to the entire theater over the TMD network. SR teams provide updates to known/suspected hostile theater missile launch sites, WMD capabilities, TEL locations, TM-related C4I sites, and TM supporting infrastructure sites are identified and provided as part of the common operational picture (COP). The COP is updated with TM status.
An enemy pilot, deciding to defect, crosses the border in an aircraft and requests permission to land. Enemy pilot track appears on the COP.
A Technical Challenges paper included in the JWID96 documents identifies a number of specific VO-related technical requirements and challenges in supporting these activities.
The paper LAM/Force XXI Writing Requirement, by LTC Michael Vane, describes some potential issues affecting the application of digital technology in the Army. These concerns, and others that have been expressed in a number of places about overburdening individuals (whether soldiers or civilians) with technology, while at the same time under-empowering them, need to be taken into account in defining and developing technology in most applications. Some of these issues include:
Gaps between computer training levels and computer training requirements can arise or widen if insufficient plans are made to narrow or work around them. All soldiers will require a higher level of training in computers and technology to use these future systems. Initial entry training of soldiers and officers on the use of computers and understanding the linkages of other systems on the battlefield will be far more rigorous and advanced. The maintenance of these highly perishable skills will also present new challenges. For example, a soldier operating in a weapon system such as an infantry fighting vehicle, a tank, or an artillery system must learn to operate not only the on board fire control solution computer, but also the command, control, and communications computer of the future that will link the weapon system and its position with the other weapons in the formation. The soldier will thus have to be knowledgeable of at least this one additional system and understand how his system fits into the higher level network of systems.
Technology gaps already exist in joint and coalition operations. Particular emphasis must be applied to these endeavors to ensure that we can operate with all our tools in these future conflicts. Operating with a non-digitized unit on our boundary may force us to revert to manual procedures in some cases if we have not built coordinating and liaison functions into our systems. Moreover, language and code conversion software programs must be made available to facilitate coordination and communication with adjacent allies. We must consider where we still need a "man in the loop" or backwards compatible computer systems to operate with an earlier version that our allies might own. We must make our technology easily adaptive, both in design and in our ability to manipulate the design "on the fly." Emphasis must be placed on applying technology to bridge these gaps and building future bridges across anticipated gaps involving our allies. We must keep an eye on when key technologies are available on the open market and through Foreign Military Sales (if not through active cooperation with potential allies) and incorporate them into our plans.
Development internal to the Army must ensure that not only combat vehicles and systems are included in C4I modernization but also across all the mission areas to include anticipated joint interactions with other services...One can see that the speed of operations is constrained by the ability of our logistics tail to keep up. The same concern applies to engineers, air defenders, Air Liaison Officers, Army-Navy Gunfire Liaison Coordination Officers, and the joint headquarters. We cannot afford for each service to continue to develop its own solution, particularly in the C4I environment without establishing work groups to ensure compatibility.
Future conflicts will also bring about a new set of vulnerabilities in our own systems and new threats from potential competitors throughout the world. Rigorous analysis of these threats and vulnerabilities must be simultaneously incorporated into the application of these new technologies. An example is the computer. The computer must be described as a consumable product not as an end item. As a part of the system it must be able to be replaced easily. Viruses can be introduced that could destroy a single weapon system or get entered into the bigger system and do damage to that system. We must design methods to attack and deceive enemy computers while protecting our own.
The ability to have a common view of the battlefield brings with it some second order effects that could be troublesome. The ability to "just tap in" to the net at any echelon eliminates the requirement to go up, over, and down in an organizational hierarchy. The potential thus exists to break down the Command and Control structure of a military organization. Do we want the higher-level commanders "looking over the shoulder" of the lower level commanders and "second guessing" or even attempting to take over operations? This capability coupled with media presence and influence creates situations where actions at tactical level have immediate impact at strategic level and vice versa. We have seen this in Somalia and Haiti, as the results of tactical operations were simultaneously known in the foxhole and in the White House. As technology continues to expand, we must decide how we want these systems to interact and what type of information is needed at each level. This is no small task, but it is the business of commanders to get inside the C4I world and lay down their requirements.
In addition to the issues raised in the paper cited above, a wide variety of other issues must be addressed in applying VO technology in both military and civilian applications. For example, provision must be made both to ensure currency and timeliness of data, and to enable appropriate data filtering so as to prevent commanders and troops from being deluged with data. This involves providing tools to, where appropriate, allow staffs (or automatic filters) to "digest" data and provide summaries to higher-level commanders. This also involves allowing recipients of data to specify what data they want, and how/when they want it provided. For example, should any data from a given source be automatically updated as it becomes available, should it be updated on a schedule, or should the recipient simply be notified when new data is available? Should more current data be treated differently from corrections to existing data, and if so, how? How much or what types of change in the data should prompt notification or update? Etc.
Provision must also be made for the (often significant) differences in platforms and communication bandwidths that may exist in these applications, in terms of both what data is provided, and the types of interactions in which it is used. For example, soldiers in the field (or real estate agents in cars) will not necessarily have the same display or processing capabilities as would be available in a headquarters or office. Similarly, communications bandwidth (inbound, outbound, or both) may be degraded (or even lost) under certain field conditions, and provision must be made for adjusting both the data being transmitted, and the patterns of transmission, in such circumstances. Provision must also be made for re-establishing data concurrency (and common situational awareness) when communication is re-established following a loss of communication.
The logistics-related VO scenarios covered in this section include both military and civilian applications. Straightforward logistics issues covered here include locating material (both in warehouses and in-transit), moving it to where it is needed, and maintenance. In addition, VO technology allows the concept of logistics to extend "further back in the pipeline" to design and develop modifications to existing components, or new components (or configurations of them) as required. For example, VO technology could allow the rapid assembly of distributed teams to build or modify software for specific requirements. This could be done without the need to relocate the team, and with the ability to call upon a much wider base of knowledge and expertise located anywhere in the world. In this case, the concept of "logistics" could be extended to also include, for example, the aircraft design scenario discussed in Section 5.
Several papers describe 21st century Army logistics. Pipeline Vision for Force XXI, by MG Thomas W. Robison, describes "a logistics pipeline in the 21st century Army that will extend combat service support seamlessly from the current strategic level through the operational and tactical levels all the way down to a broken tank at the forward line of own troops (FLOT)." The following excerpts from this paper illustrate the role VO-related capabilities will play in enabling this vision:
The battle command logistician's battlespace will reach from the CINC's peacetime area of operation all the way forward to the tactical customer of combat service support. All logisticians-strategic, operational, and tactical-will be technologically integrated throughout the supported CINC's battlespace. They will know everything that is going on, from the factory to the foxhole.
Digitization will provide each logistics echelon with situational awareness of the maneuver commander's location and logistics requirements. The logistics community will be able to forecast where logistics supply distribution points and combat service support facilities need to be in 24 to 48 hours. They will be able to deliver the right assets where and when required by the maneuver elements. For example, a heavy, expanded-mobility, tactical truck (HEMTT) fueler in the battalion will pass along information on his fuel status via the digital network. A digital display at a combat service support node will record the information and display the location of the maneuver element. Intelligence data will indicate the safest routes to use to transport fuel to the requesting element. Any route deemed unsafe (for example, one with damaged bridges) will be coded "red" by the system.
Logistics support forecasts will be available for all classes of supply. The support operations officer and his staff will have situational awareness of the entire logistics spectrum within the brigade they support. The tactical logistician will be able to anticipate logistics requirements for the next 24 to 72 hours, and the concept of support will be electronically passed throughout the brigade. Digitization, communications, and situational awareness will be the common threads binding the division support command; the division assistant chief of staff, G4 (logistics); the corps support command (COSCOM); and the corps G4.
Computer simulation modeling will tell us if we need to reduce bulk fuel stockage requirements and minimize onhand authorized stockage list and prescribed load list stockage levels. Computer simulations will also provide insights about stockage levels of ammunition and repair parts required for logistics support on the Force XXI battlefield.
Maintenance roles will change with emerging forecast analysis and operational tempo requirements. Equipment operators will be able to do more preventive maintenance with forecasting tools, test equipment, and digital manuals.
Gen. Robison gives further details of some of these concepts in a related paper, Force XXI Combat Service Support. Again, excerpts from the paper illustrate the role VO-related capabilities will play in supporting these concepts:
CSS [Combat Service Support] providers at all levels must be able to predict what maneuver forces need, anticipate when and where those needs will occur, and tell the warfighter with precision where the needed support is in the pipeline. These requirements will be significantly more critical tomorrow than today because deployments in reaction to world crises will be constrained by the amount of strategic lift available, the cost of such deployments, and limited response time. These and other factors may well preclude building huge stockpiles of supplies "just in case we need them." Army logisticians clearly understand this issue and believe that reengineering the current battlefield distribution system is the only viable response.
Battlefield Distribution (BD) ensures the rapid movement of materiel--under positive control and bypassing routine warehouse and storage functions--from the sustaining base to the combatant. The basic premise of BD is that the rapid movement of materiel through the logistics system--velocity--and situational awareness--knowing where the materiel is and where it is needed-- supplants the need for large stockpiles. Satisfactory BD ensures that unit demands are filled from stocks located in the area of operations and distributed to the user very rapidly, usually within 24 hours. BD successfully merges innovative experimentation with doctrine, organization, and state-of-the-art technologies such as communication enhancements, automatic identification technology (AIT), automated source data input, integrated information management systems, and distribution platforms. This merger streamlines the control of transportation and all classes of supply used by the deployed forces.
BD merges logistics management functions and consolidates logistics operations into a central distribution system to achieve maximum throughput. Army logisticians recognize that, to make such a system work, they must innovate and draw on good ideas already available commercially. Logisticians are already experimenting with a successful commercial industry distribution model known as "Hub and Spokes," used in Germany today to expedite port clearances.
A national logistics system must also be an anticipatory system. That is, it must seek to prevent problems rather than merely react to them. The Ordnance Corps is currently undertaking such an effort with Telemaintenance--similar in concept to telemedicine. Telemaintenance will provide prognostics, diagnostics, and command and control information about the status of fighting platforms. Prognostic maintenance data either will be "sensed" by onboard sensors or read from the system's internal digital control network. These systems will then transmit this data through onboard communication systems to the logistics network and STAMIS. Diagnostic information will be provided by systems like Turbine Engine Diagnostics (TED), an "expert" computer system that enables an apprentice mechanic to troubleshoot and repair M1 powerpacks with the sophistication of a skilled mechanic. With such technology, maneuver and logistics commanders have the capability to identify, locate, and solve maintenance problems in critical, high-cost components before failures occur.
One piece of technology that shows great promise for the personnel system is the multi-technology automated reader card (MARC), which provides a single source of input data for personnel information. ...MARC is imprinted with a circuit chip, bar code, magnetic strip, printed data, and a digital photograph that together provide essential personnel data about its bearer. This system has already been used by the 25th Infantry Division during its deployment to Haiti. Using MARC, the division manifested 385 soldiers in about 15 to 20 minutes--to include direct downloads to U.S. Air Force Automated Ports System and the Global Transportation Network! Considering that this same action normally takes about 8 hours to accomplish without MARC, it is easy to imagine the potential MARC technology has for improving the speed, accuracy, and effectiveness of information exchange in existing personnel, finance, medical, and logistics systems.
Excerpts from another paper, Battlefield Distribution for Force XXI, by W4 Daniel C. Parker and Jim Caldwell, amplify on the Battlefield Distribution concept.
Sophisticated communications systems will link the battlefield with the National Command Authority in the United States. Logistics operations will be a part of that communications network.
With technology used by the transportation industry for several years, Army logisticians will be able to track supplies from the warehouse to the theater of operations and on to the ultimate users. Army logisticians will have their own communications channels to order, manifest, track, and log the dispatch and receipt of supplies. They will tag large items of equipment and containers with RF devices and attach automated manifest system (AMS) laser cards to items inside the containers that will identify the contents. Hand-held or remote monitors will read the information on the cards and write new data on them. Reading the cards will automatically enter the information into the TAV-ITV data base, eliminating the laborious process of manually logging receipt of the supplies. Individual items, as well as crates of supplies, will have the familiar bar codes.
[The paper Leveraging Logistics Technology Toward Force XXI, by LG Johnnie E. Wilson and Roberto Capote, notes that this concept of Total Asset Visibility (TAV) tracks the location, condition, and consignee of supplies and equipment from factory to foxhole. The intransit visibility (ITV) initiative uses radio frequency tags, fixed and handheld detection devices, and computer system links with satellites to track movements of supplies through the distribution system. It provides a complete picture of the activities in the distribution system.]
We will have already logged into the AMS the manifest and packing list, so the supply support activity (SSA) in the theater will know the contents of an en route shipment and to whom the items go. Transportation can then move the supplies and equipment to the ultimate consignee upon their arrival at the port. No longer will supplies wait at the theater port of entry while logisticians identify materiel, search paperwork to find who gets individual items, and then find transportation to deliver them.
The single distribution manager will have access to the battlefield command communications channel. He will have the command information necessary to anticipate, even pre-position, needed supplies on the battlefield, because he will know what the maneuver forces are doing.
The paper The Logistics Internet: CSS Automation for Force XXI, by LTC Merle Russ, contains a few narrative scenarios describing logistics applications of VO-related technology. For example:
CPT Susan Westlake leaned back in her chair and rubbed her eyes. Her snapshot readiness report of MIA3 tanks to the G4 and the division chief of staff last night had set off a flurry of interest in laser range finders. Apparently, the lingering morning fog so typical of the fall weather in Croitania was having a dramatic effect on the division's tank fire control systems. The rebels had a pattern of moving to new positions on the opposing ridge lines every night. At daybreak the tank gunners would lase the new rebel positions repeatedly through the dense fog to establish range data. As a result, almost 25 percent of the division's M1A3 's had burned-out range finders. Westlake had followed hyper-text links on the LogNet for over half hour from the PEO Armored Systems home page to various locations where she could check on the supply availability and the transportation status of laser range finders. Now, she looked again at the screen and marveled at her discovery. She was on the home page of the Mounted Warfare Battle Lab on the Army Infonet. There, in the selection of What's New items, was a Training Advisory on using laser range finders in obscured visibility conditions. At the end of the advisory was a blue-colored text passage that read, USMATCOM Field Fix for MlA3 LRF. Clicking on the highlighted text, she watched the screen load the US Materiel Command Ground Forces Readiness page. Clicking on M1A3 LRF she opened a three-page brochure with color photographs of how intermediate maintenance units could modify the A-3 circuit card in the laser range finder to prevent gunner engagements longer than 3.5 seconds. Westlake clicked open the Options menu on her screen's tool bar and opened the Save to Disk option. The hard disk drive clicked and hummed as the brochure was downloaded. Opening the E-Mail shell, Westlake attached the brochure to a note addressed to her Materiel Readiness address group. Within minutes, the modification brochure would be available to the supervisors of the fire control repairers throughout the division.
A similar scenario might be developed to describe the activities of a "Combat Software Engineer", who sets up and supports deployment of systems in the field. Moreover, unlike physical spare parts, software "parts" could actually be delivered over a Logistics Internet.
"LAD Answers the big questions" [Government Computer News, May 27, 1996] describes the Army's Logistics Anchor Desk, a single environment for visualizing logistics data pulled from dozens of legacy logistics systems. The system lets logisticians graphically represent asset data. Instead of charts and lists describing the transportation infrastructure of Bosnia, for example, LAD displays a detailed map overlaid with icons representing different types of roads, bridges, rail lines, oil refineries, etc. The data comes from a number of sources: DMA maps, the Army's Military Traffic Management Command for the roads, the DIA and service-specific intelligence activities for up-to-date status on local fuel facilities. Additional data from the services' personnel systems let commanders know the names and specialties of soldiers who will be deployed for a particular contingency. The LAD also allows mission planning; it incorporates modeling tools such as the Knowledge-Based Logistics Planning Shell, which lets users answer questions such as "If I have X troops with Y vehicles, how much food, fuel, and construction material will I need around Tussle, and where are the optimum distribution points for each? Will I have enough engineers? Enough electricians?"
VO technology can support numerous civilian logistics-related scenarios. Numerous commercial firms (such as Federal Express, and other transportation companies) are already using digital technology to track shipments in real-time. Such tracking information can be integrated into other types of planning, to support "just-in-time" delivery of material for manufacturing and other operations.
Maintenance scenarios are also enhanced with this technology. One such Remote Expert Consultation scenario involves a remote expert consultation on a maintenance problem with a power plant. The power plant operator establishes a video conference to the maintenance center to report a problem with the gas turbine. The dispatcher at the maintenance center checks his knowledge database to find possible solutions or at least the name of an expert who can then be consulted.
In this particular case, the operator reports a problem with a vane of the second propeller of the gas turbine. The database does not give any hint, but the name of a contact person. The dispatcher invites the expert into the conference and explains the problem to him. The expert calls up the construction drawing of the turbine, and they all examine it.
The second part of the gas turbine, where the high pressure chamber is located, causes the problem. One of the conference participants took over the application control and starts to zoom-in the construction drawing of the turbine.
To be prepared for the meeting with the remote expert, the power plant operator has made pictures of the dismantled turbine vanes. These are displayed. This gives the expert a chance to identify the type and manufacturer of the vane. He asks for x-ray images. These are provided, along with test reports.
COBUCO describes an aircraft maintenance scenario that illustrates how communication facilities might be provided to mobile users within a large aircraft maintenance area, and how multimedia services might be provided to the maintenance crew working within this area. Aircraft awaiting maintenance may be parked anywhere within this coverage area.
An aircraft that requires maintenance has arrived at its parking position somewhere within the maintenance area of an airport. Two service engineers leave the maintenance center for this aircraft equipped with a multimedia workstation consisting of a video camera, a handset, a fax-set and a laptop computer. Both engineers register on the workstation using their personal smart cards, thus being reachable for incoming calls.
The location of the engineers is automatically updated when necessary (by means of a short radio message) in the mobility control server attached to the airport's ATM PABX exchange. While walking to the aircraft, they receive a phone call from their supervisor with some additional details about the initially diagnosed engine damage. Thanks to the handover facility this cordless telephony connection remains uninterrupted while the service engineers walk to the aircraft.
Having arrived at the aircraft, the engineers realize they need certain additional plans of the aircraft engine. A quick call to the maintenance base results in these plans being faxed out to the awaiting engineer's workstation [with more advanced technology, the digital images could be sent instead].
The engineers begin their investigation of the faulty engine. With the help of the faxed plans, they find that there is a problem with the fuel pump section and need some additional help. For this purpose they establish a connection to an expert in the maintenance center in the form of a multimedia call. Using video telephony the expert can observe and communicate with the engineers as they work on the faulty engine. The engineers are free to move around the aircraft while they work, with no interference to the mobile connection. While talking to the expert a second call comes in on the mobile terminal. This call automatically diverts to voicemail which can be retrieved at a later stage.
Additionally, after having identified the damaged parts, the engineers consult a spare part catalogue in a parts database located remotely in the maintenance center, compare them on-line with the existing aircraft parts, and discuss the problem with the expert. The engineers notice that the stock level of the spare part they require has run quite low and so, after terminating the call with the expert, they request the acquisitions' office to restock this particular part using email.
The engineers are also required to file a damage report to the engine manufacturer's headquarters. They do this via a customized report template that they access from the Internet site of the aircraft engine manufacturer using an Internet browser on their multimedia workstation.
"Jets and the 'net'" [Computerworld, July 31, 1995] describes how Douglas Aircraft is testing a system to provide on-line maintenance manuals (40,000 pages) for the MD-11 jet over the Internet. There is already experimentation in using computers on jets for Internet access by pilots and maintenance crews.
"The Ultimate in Portability" [Computerworld Client/Server Journal, August 1995] described how aircraft maintenance workers in a pilot test at Boeing could use portable computers in performing maintenance operations. Using prototype wearable computers developed at Carnegie-Mellon University, the workers crawl over the wings and cockpit wearing 4-pound computers that fit into the small of their backs. On their foreheads, they wear VGA-quality transparent monitors that give them a full field of vision but let them call up 3D diagrams of the cockpit or other airplane mechanisms, request step-by-step instructions on any procedure, and enter data into a remote database, all with voice commands. Repair requests are immediately broadcast by radio to a Boeing logistics computer server, which automatically orders any required parts and can schedule the date and time of the repairs.
VO technology is widely understood to be of great potential benefit in both military and civilian health care scenarios. For example, the paper Force XXI Combat Service Support, by MG Thomas W. Robison, describes some aspects of 21st Century Army healthcare requirements. Telemedicine is cited as being particularly important in providing rapid care in the field, since it allows medical personnel providing direct care in the field to be digitally linked with specialized medical expertise at distant medical facilities. This includes both telemonitoring, which allows remote medical personnel to evaluate patient condition, and teleconsultation, which allows interactive consultation to take place based on full voice, video, and data links.
The paper also describes specialized equipment that plays a role in supporting the immediate treatment of soldiers on the battlefield. For example, the Personnel Status Monitor (PSM) is a wristwatch-like device that transmits a soldier's location and physiological status to his chain of command and, when appropriate, to combat medics. The Medical Digital Assistant (MDA) is a handheld device used to monitor vital signs of casualties from a remote location.
In describing civilian health care applications of VO technology, the paper Health Care and the NII notes that, in general, national networks would enable all persons and health care providers to access the most recent information about particular medical technologies, clinical treatments, and provider performance. Patient outcome information could be linked to medical treatment data in a variety of settings so that all interested parties could obtain a better understanding of what works in the practice of medicine in the community and where it works best.
In one scenario from that paper:
A child in a rural area awakens with severe coughing, fever, and a rash on her chest. Her mother dials the interactive telecommunication connection to access medical care support and describes her child. The nurse at the other end asks for the mother to connect special probes that monitor the child's temperature, blood pressure, pulse. She then listens through an electronic stethoscope to the child's breathing. She examines the rash through the high resolution telecommunications viewer. After consulting information through the NII about recent health events reported in the community, such as the incidence of measles, bacterial and viral infections, she recommends action to the mother. Such action could be (1) stay on the connection and the physician will be right with her, (2) remain at home and continue to monitor the child and report in, (3) come in for an appointment with the doctor, or (4) head immediately to a designated emergency room. A valid medical encounter record is documented by this system and sent to the family's longitudinal medical service file, to the community's information repository, to the family for verification, and then to the family's health plan for payment.
In similar scenarios, a nurse or an on-line expert system could act as a filter, to allow physicians to care for more patients, helping the patient to evaluate symptoms, and establishing contact with other medical personnel as required or requested. Videoconferencing or other electronic interaction is particularly useful where it would be best if a patient were monitored less frequently than in a hospital, but more frequently than would be convenient if a visit to doctor's office were necessary. For example, 4% of the US population is diabetic, and must check their blood sugar levels several times daily. However, most of these patients only consult their health care provider once a quarter. According to a ten-year study by the National Institute of Diabetes, if nurses could flag patient data in real time, instead of waiting for periodic updates, diabetics' health risks could be reduced by 75% [Red Herring, Sept. 1996, page 60]). A similar approach would be important in allowing medical personnel to remotely monitor patients to ensure that they take their medication (this has been noted as an important factor in reducing cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis).
A Microsoft Press Release describes software that will link physicians, pharmacists, and patients via the Internet. Such technology is important because, as smaller health care organizations become part of larger provider networks, there is an increasing need to coordinate information among multiple parties, including hospitals, physician's offices, laboratories and insurance companies. The software will enable physicians to submit prescription orders electronically, reducing the chances of error, and speeding delivery of medication. Pharmacists can notify doctors when they dispense medicine, or they can ask questions about a particular drug therapy, all electronically. Patients who need a prescription refill can request one through e-mail. Pharmacies can develop patient histories that include clinical, prescriptive, disease-state and allergy information. They can then use this information to counsel patients on everything from appropriate exercise and diet regimens to eliminating sources of stress in their lives.
Such software also creates an online early-warning system for primary-care physicians. If a patient suffers side effects from a medication, a pharmacist can quickly consult a physician online for a change in the prescription. A pharmacist can also notify a physician electronically if a patient is not following dosage instructions. The physician can then change her or his refill instructions online to make future prescriptions contingent on an office visit.
A key aspect of advanced healthcare is online access to each patient's medical history. With a portable electronic medical history, patients can share their medical information with whomever they choose -- doctors, pharmacies, insurance companies -- and can change that access at will. Moreover, the patient's record can be kept up-to-date by the various providers, so that, when care is needed, healthcare providers will have access to complete and accurate information, even when the patient is traveling. Similar technology is also important in a hospital setting, where unnecessary effort is sometimes spent re-determining and re-entering patient information that is already available, or re-performing tests because the results of previous tests cannot be readily located.
The Academic Pathologist gives a narrative of yet another health care scenario made possible by VO technology, by describing a hypothetical day in the life of a pathologist. As the following excerpts from that scenario illustrate, the technology allows the pathologist to:
track tasks to be performed, with the tasks being dynamically updated
"My computerized management program tells me that it is time for Dr. Morson's GI Conference at St. Marks Hospital in London."
"I check my computer and find two other consultations awaiting my review."
review the medical literature associated with specific cases
"I check the hospital census and find out that we had several admissions during the night, due in part to a major auto accident. Two of the patients had spurious laboratory values which could potentially affect their treatment and needs my immediate attention. After fully investigating the abnormal lab values from the night before and checking bibliography sources which had been downloaded by a bibliography management program, I had more rapid access to information than if I had done a second MEDLINE search. I could then inform the clinician that there were underlying problems not immediately related to the automobile accident in one of the patients. Through our network, I sent the patient's clinician the full text article, as well as the most recent results of lab tests on that patient's serum."
access multimedia patient information online
"It is now time to do the frozen section in the operating room. I access the pathology network to see the prior diagnoses on this patient. From the menu, I choose to see the diagnosis as well as the gross and microscopic images. The color images show arrows with special text boxes containing the pathologists' notes which highlight the key diagnostic features of this difficult case. Reviewing this prior specimen provides vital information in making a very difficult diagnosis."
"I begin to review the surgical biopsies. Video images of the entire microscopic slide review process are captured. Selected images with arrow and test boxes highlight the key diagnostic areas. These images and all key patient information are captured for long-term storage. This system has remote accessibility and handles images, text, and voice with full video conferencing capabilities. The computer displays all of my dictated descriptions directly onto the computer monitor for editing; spell checking is done automatically. Completed reports showing my electronic signature, including images which I designate, are immediately accessible via the hospital network."
"After the patient was admitted I checked the computer for the results of this patient's most recent physical examination."
participate in consultations and conferences with full access to all relevant data
"During the next hour, our senior resident will be doing a fine needle aspiration assisting the radiologist who is using an advanced imaging technique. From my desk in Anatomic Pathology, I can monitor the procedure and view the actual radiologic and microscopic images. I can capture any image to be put into the patient's pathology computer file."
"Our weekly teleconferences from my office will begin in half an hour. This gives me enough time to organize the information and images from patient files which have been predesignated "teaching file" during the prior week. With our presentation/video production management program, one key stroke activates a macro which quickly downloads all material needed into my frequently used format for this conference. This information routinely consists of all clinical information, X-rays, pathology images, and laboratory values. As the conference begins from my office, I select "record" which will insure that the entire procedures are captured for later review and critique. I see that all remote sites have logged on, and we are ready for our weekly problems conference. The audience consists of students, residents, senior faculty and laboratory personnel. They are located at our main hospital, across town and at rural sites in south Missouri. This conference is interactive and each case is presented as an unknown. After a lively discussion, unanswered questions or unresolved patient problems are documented for further study and we adjourn. Pertinent information is logged into the department quality assurance documentation."
deal with emergencies
"The hospital helicopter is dispatched to pick up a seriously injured patient. The magnetic medical record card found in the patient's pocket is scanned and the information is forwarded by pocket radio to the ER. The initial lab tests done on-board are also forwarded directly to the ER. This information which includes bloodtype and coagulation status enables the lab to have needed blood available before the patient arrives."
In addition to the groupings of application areas covered in the previous sections, there are numerous other application areas in which VO technology could be usefully applied. A selection of scenarios from some of these areas is presented here.
A customer might schedule a videoconference with an advertising agency in order to discuss the latest campaign. The agency creates a conference with the customer and also with a photo agency. Images of the ads could be viewed by all parties. The customer might propose some changes to the photos to be used in the ads. The photo agency could access its image database, and present some suggested alternatives, using queries based on image content, and other characteristics. An accepted photo could be immediately inserted into the ad to be changed, for review by all parties. Photos could also be edited on-line, to make them fit the overall layout, and goals of the customer.
In one Management Scenario, a manager wants to know how to develop a vision and mission for her team. She accesses an online Leaders/Managers Manual, and searches it on the keyword "vision". She is presented with several options, including:
Any fees for the services used are charged to her Internet account, including fees associated with accessing fee sites such as the Center For Creative Leadership, the video server, and the Covey Leadership Center.
VO technology could considerably simplify insurance claims processing. For example, a ship insurer in Germany might receive a message that one of their insured vessels had been in a collision in the Singapore area. The insurer could set up a videoconference with the harbor police, the ship captain, and the owner to discuss the situation. The location of the collision could be identified to the participants by calling up a harbor map from a GIS system, and locating the collision with a pointer. Digitized photographs of the damage could be displayed to all parties. If desired, a local inspector equipped with highly portable video equipment could provide video (full-motion or still) to show specific views of the damaged area as directed in real-time by the participants in the conference. The owners could call up drawings of the ship, in order to determine if additional parts of the ship should be inspected for damage. The owners of any cargo that might have been affected by the collision could also be brought into the conference immediately, if necessary, or be contacted in a subsequent separate conference. The details of the insurance policy, the information originally used by the underwriters, and other financial data (e.g., the depreciated value of the ship) would also be immediately available. Any necessary forms and reports could be made out on-line and sent to the required agencies electronically. Agreement on compensation could be reached during the videoconference, and the agreement "signed" electronically, and distributed to all necessary parties.
The book by Don Tapscott, The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence (McGraw-Hill, 1996), includes a description of the process behind the design of the Boeing 777 commercial aircraft. This provides an excellent example of design-related Virtual Office activities. The process involved the use of digital design technologies, cross-functional work teams, and advanced manufacturing techniques. Digital design technology reduced or eliminated hand drawings, full-sized metal mockups, and master models. Engineers working together had simultaneous access to every aspect of the design. The design tools' accuracy and three-dimensional capability allowed designers to see whether parts would fit, and, using associated analysis software, how adding new systems altered stress in the structure. The tools included a computer-simulated mechanic that could demonstrate whether a human could get inside a particular area to carry out repairs. Access to the system went beyond Boeing itself to include many of the more than 500 suppliers in a dozen countries. Cross-functional teams were organized around parts of the aircraft rather than according to function. The teams brought together engineering, procurement, manufacturing, operations, customer services, and marketing. The new workgroups also included key representatives from customers. Airline representatives made numerous suggestions, and were particularly helpful on reliability and maintenance aspects of the aircraft.
The scenario is also suggestive of the potential of VO technology in such applications. For example, further development of the "simulated mechanic" would allow virtual-reality-based walkthroughs or even simulated passenger flights in the aircraft. The ability of VO technology to link cross-functional (and even cross-company) teams together would be a significant contribution to all sorts of design and implementation activities. Because the technology allows participants located anywhere full access not only to other participants, but also to all necessary data, a great deal of flexibility is introduced into design processes. For example, it is easier to gain participation from key people in both design and customer organizations, because they do not need to travel to be involved, and they can participate on an as-needed basis. This is particularly important when multiple customer sites are involved.
A Real Estate agency could make use of a number of aspects of VO technology. Agents could visit clients and identify candidate homes through database searches based on client-specified criteria. These criteria could include geographically- or time-based criteria (proximity to schools satisfying specific requirements, within specified commuting times from work) involving searches of geographic and other information. The agent could locate the homes on a customized map display, provide photos and plans, and conduct the clients on video walk-throughs of selected homes. If the client had digitized information about their furniture, etc., this could be superimposed on the views of the home to allow the clients to see what the home would look like with their own furnishings installed. The agent could also provide information on lenders, local utilities and tradespeople (plumbers, carpenters), etc. Videoconferencing would allow the parties to negotiate for services without leaving their homes or places of business. Similar services could be provided remotely for clients over the Internet. This would be particularly helpful for clients who are moving into an area from out-of-town.
A general contractor could access sub-contractor (carpenter, plumber, electrician, painter, tile-layer, carpet-layer, appliance installer, cabinet-maker, countertop, hvac, etc.) and part-time laborer schedules to find out when they were available, and to know who to book for a given job. S/he could access a supplier's (original source) databases to find out what materials and tools were necessary for specific installations, to get exact specifications as to size, quantity, quality, availability, and local vendors of specific products, and to track shipments of material to know when to expect to be able to do the next step of a job. S/he could also use CAD and virtual reality tools to provide clients with pictures of what the finished job will look like, and to let clients virtually walk through the completed project to determine where switches, lighting, walls, and outlets should be. VO tools could also be used to consult with architects or structural engineers, e.g., to ensure that an existing foundation is adequate (and, if not, to get suggestions on how to shore it up or what alternative materials to use), or to allow the architect or engineer to track 'closeness' of finished job to original plans. The contractor could also use costing tools to determine how much time a particular segment of the job ought to take so as to interleave employees/sub-contractors from job to job and ensure access to labor without undue idle overhead, and use remote database access to check local code specifications for requirements as to material, positioning, inspection, and loading.
Conventional VO activities include such things as keeping timesheets, monitoring progress, etc. Our company, OBJS, is itself a virtual company. At the beginning of this paper, we noted that we have developed several papers describing our own plans for, and experiences with, VO technology in our own operations. This section briefly describes some of these plans and experiences.
Following years of tradition, we had been using paper timesheets and each submitting separate individual weekly reports. Both procedures were necessary, of course, but much extra time was being spent transferring timesheets (using fax and U.S. mail to preserve signatures), then copying and summarizing paper timesheets into monthly financial reports. Less transfer time was spent on weekly reporting since we could email these to each other electronically, but it was painful to complete monthly reports from weekly ones.
More recently, we have made incremental changes in these procedures to define schemes that worked much better in a VO. We set up a standard electronic spreadsheet customized to the weeks in the month and including all charge numbers. The spreadsheet summarizes weekly and monthly charges per individual. Early experience is that individuals save time using the spreadsheet and the office manager saves substantial time and makes fewer (no) errors in summarization for the billing and payroll processes. A problem with weekly reports was, we needed to see the big picture, that is, how weekly results added up to monthly accomplishments, and also needed to be able to translate this to monthly reports quickly. To automate this in the virtual office, we have begun to use weekly report templates with standard tasks and color coding of the weekly progress by week so that a month of progress can be seen at a glance and there is no longer a need to collate each week. Next steps for both procedures are: automate aggregation of information across the team (scaling); insure security and survivability of distributed information; support compression; support daily non-intrusive auditability (everyone must record time daily but it is difficult even a central office to guarantee this; agent alerters can remind them to do so); support both connected and disconnected individuals; support extended reporting periods to arbitrary periods of time; and enable query over textual and spreadsheet data.
A further useful enhancement would be a system to manage time recording in a virtual office. The system could keep users up to date on current charge numbers, automatically distribute and collect time records; compress, protect, and timestamp recorded times and ship them to the main office. This would involve interacting with a number of existing tools outside of the spreadsheet application where time is actually collected and manipulated.
Requirements also exist for authentication and signatures in a virtual office. The concern is how to keep the need for a paper trail (or at least a verifiable one) and signatures from requiring physical movement of people and documents for no reason other than accounting. Between email, faxes, and digital signatures, most of what appears to be required to put together a system to get around this problem is already available in one form or another, although not integrated with data capture tools and applications such as our expense statements, time sheets, or accounting package. One piece seems to be a "Time Stamping Authority" that can reliably and unforgeably timestamp documents that it cannot also read. This appears on the surface to be just an application of digital signatures, but there is more to it than that, since there are issues of trust (whose timestamper do you trust for what?), distribution (to avoid bottlenecks and outages, there must be more than one timestamper, which must then try to keep their times synchronized), accuracy (given clock drift, how close to the correct time are you willing to pay for?).
Offices also typically involve meetings. We have found that simple electronic communications techniques such as electronic mail can adequately substitute for some types of meetings without necessarily requiring videoconferencing facilities. For example, we have engaged in extensive brainstorming activities on several occasions entirely via electronic mail. Among the advantages of this approach were:
At the same time, there were negative aspects, partly due to today's technology, such as:
(Of course, many of these are issues with face-to-face meetings as well).
Further discussion of our Virtual Office experiences can be found in our papers "Virtual Office White Paper" and "Electronic Support for Collaboration & Decision Making in OBJS."
This paper has described a collection of scenarios (or scenario fragments), from various application domains, that illustrate the use (or the potential use) of Virtual Office (VO) technology. These scenarios should also be suggestive of other application domains in which this technology might be applied. In general, the scenarios illustrate that VO technology provides a means to empower people both to use their individual skills more effectively, and to collaborate with others in highly effective teams.
These scenarios also illustrate a wide range of technology requirements. Based on these scenarios, we have prepared an initial compilation of the technologies required to support such scenarios ("Enabling Technology for Virtual Office Applications"). Together, these papers provide a basis for carrying on our further work in the area of scaling object service architectures to the Internet and, in particular, on the problems of organizing distributed information spaces, and querying and accessing them, these being key enabling technologies in supporting extended VO applications.
This appendix presents, in outline form, a summary of some of the kinds of information in a generic VO environment, and the types of activities that go on in such a VO.
In general, the following kinds of activities go on:
More specifically, a categorization of these activities (for purposes of generating technology requirements) might be as follows:
The focus here is on basic acquisition, access to information already stored within the system, and interchange.
Distributed File/Document System (DFS)
In a distributed environment, as exemplified by a VO, there is a need to provide ease-of-access to the significant body of information within the organization. At the most basic level, this amounts to documents and the activity of document sharing.
Aspects: distribution (communications, internet), file systems, document management
Object Layer(ing) Service (OLS)
In a distributed, heterogeneous VO environment where participants use different applications, and different application versions on different platforms, some means to enable the consistent, transparent exchange of information is required.
The object-oriented approach is useful here as the objects can represent/render themselves appropriately given the specific environment variables. This may also be handled by client services.
Aspects: distribution (communications, internet), file systems, document management, object services, translators/mediators
Object Query Service (OQS)
As an extension of the DFS, the information stored within a VO may exist across multiple applications, such as databases, mailers, file systems, etc. A single interface should be provided in which to access this information so that users do not have to search through all data warehouses to locate related information. In addition, the information may exist in several forms (text, audio, video, images), so searching should transparently (to the extent possible) allow querying independent of type so searches do not have to be re-stated by the user for each data type that exists.
Aspects: distribution (communications, internet), file systems, document management, object services, translators/mediators, user interfaces, search engines
The focus here is on knowledge management as opposed to simply document/object access/management.
Distributed Information/Knowledge Management
A significant amount of knowledge is generated within a VO environment as described above. Efficient access to this information is imperative for a VO to operate effectively. This information must be managed on several levels:
a) When information is received by a user it should be queued/handled according to some set policies taking into account, for example, type, topic, content, urgency, and importance. Granular level may be below that of the document level (e.g. paragraph, sentence, graphic).
b) Reminders should be available to provide information management of new and pending information.
c) At a global level document/information management mechanisms must be provided, such as would be provided by a workflow system to manage the movement of information into, out of, and within the VO environment.
a) The received information should be integrated / associated with current knowledge network/database regardless of data location / type (ODBMS, file system Notes, etc.) and be kept up-to-date.
b) In addition, each user will be generating their own documents/information that needs to be integrated into the knowledge database.
a) Useful viewers/interfaces must be available to allow efficient and effective navigation/viewing of information
Intelligent Collaborative Document Environment (ICDE)
The active process of collaboration requires mechanisms to support document sharing, processing, and associated information management (associated with workflow). This covers many activities within a VO as outlined above:
ICDE extends document sharing with intelligent management and sharing of information. ICDE may address such things as:
The primary focus here is on intelligent assistance associated with the activities within a VO (e.g. information generation, retrieval, and searching)
The process of information generation can be aided by information generation assistants (very basic forms of these already exist -- Microsoft calls them wizards). While ICDE above describes primarily passive assistance, the focus of AIG is active participation in the process of generating information. Support for multi-source data/information fusion (automatic or with human interaction) is also included in this category. This is divided into two areas, collaborative (or multi-user), and single-user.
In both cases, there needs to be support for time management:
Time Management is specifically necessary in all cases to track the amount of time spent on all tasks. TM systems must be designed with ease-of-use as a primary goal (e.g. OS-level support, or very lightweight process requirement).
Collaborative assistance for users facilitates the generation and run-time management of information. This may take many forms, including managing all types of communications (including conversations, brainstorming, presentations, meetings) and to programming-related collaboration. The type of management may include such things as:
Collaborative assistance may be provided for communications which may be synchronous or asynchronous in time and space.
Single User Assistance:
Perhaps closer to the idea of current wizards, to assist the user in the generation of information associated with a VO (e.g., all communications and programming). This assistance should take into account aspects of operating in a VO as described in other scenarios above.
Knowledge reformulation is the process of taking current knowledge and formatting or restructuring it. This may include reports for example, and can involve data of any type including audio and video (e.g. from presentations, or conferences). Assistance should be available to help facilitate the composition of new material from current knowledge in the system. Like AIG, AIR could be a collaborative or single-user activity.
Information exploration involves the perusal and exploration of information within the VO. This includes searching for information based upon current data models, and the identification of new relationships not currently supported within those models. AIS aids the user in searching by providing the same kind of assistance as in AIG as applicable:
Like AIG, AIS could be a collaborative or single-user activity.
Information dissemination is the process of insuring that information reaches those that need to be aware of it. Information retrieval and searching involve explicit requests for information. Manual information dissemination involves the explicit sending of information to someone who should see it. Assisted information dissemination allows for users to register (or have registered for them) their interest in certain types of information. When this information becomes available, either it will be automatically routed to them, or they will be automatically be notified that it is available. As with the categories above, this could involve either collaborative or single-user interaction in the process.
This research is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and managed by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory under contract DAAL01-95-C-0112. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or the United States Government.
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Last updated: 1/29/97 fam
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