Using sports-TV technology to help the military in the field

Published 4 May 2010

One thing which would help soldiers in the field is the application of sports-TV technology — instant replays, high-definition views of targets shot from multiple angles, audio feeds to accompany the video, a digital map that could be laid over images to pinpoint locations, and more — to UAV video analysis; each day commercial broadcasters create and successfully manage 30 times the volume of video and other digital content that the military struggles with

Sports TV provides a wealth of data on the event // Source:

Here is an idea: Allowing military intelligence to do what football fans do every weekend: watch instant replays of events and study high-definition views of targets shot from multiple angles. How about an audio feed to accompany the video? Also this: a digital map that could be laid over images to pinpoint locations, and photos of suspects and background information that pop up on command.

That might sound like the C4ISR equivalent of fantasy football, but Defense News’s William Matthews quotes John Delay to say that the technology to pull it all together exists today.

Delay has worked on broadcasting technology for decades. He says the same technology that broadcasters use to combine information from diverse sources can also be used by militaries to produce useful and, more importantly, “actionable” intelligence.

Matthews writes that Melbourne, Florida-based Harris, where Delay is director of strategy for government solutions, has developed a Full-Motion Video Asset-Management Engine (FAME) that makes it possible to merge video, audio, and other information gathered by a variety of sensors and data bases.

The result is video intelligence — a UAV feed, for example — which is combined with relevant audio, incident reports, maps, annotation by users and any other data.

The U.S. military has tested the system and ordered continued development. Widespread use of the technology, though, is likely to take some time. “It’s not gonna happen in six months,” Delay said. “There are some very deep-rooted challenges” in the way the military captures, stores, analyzes and uses video and other intelligence.

Matthews writes that the problem is this: The U.S. military is inundated by a large and growing volume of intelligence data — video gathered by an expanding fleet of UAVs, unmanned sensors, satellites, intercepted signals, and more. Air Force UAVs alone now collect 1,800 hours of video a month, three times more than they collected in 2007, Harris president Howard Lance said in an address to a broadcasters’ convention in April.

Despite the volume of data, or because of it, the military struggles to extract useful intelligence from this digital flood. “How would you isolate the critical 15 seconds of video from what is otherwise many, many hours of useless video feed? How do we then tag that section of the video so we can retrieve it later?” Lance asked.


And how about attaching other useful intelligence that would appear with the video: photos of suspects, cell phone numbers, incident reports and the