The State of the Art and the State of the Practice: Transferring Insights from Complex Biological Systems to the Exploitation of Netted Sensors in Command and Control Enterprises

January 2006
Jennifer Mathieu, The MITRE Corporation
Grace M. Hwang, The MITRE Corporation
Dr. James P. Dunyak, The MITRE Corporation
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Exploiting data from a network of sensors (netted sensors) is an Enterprise System Engineering challenge. Successfully meeting this challenge will contribute significantly to improving the agility of today's Command and Control (C2) Enterprise by achieving its goal of decision superiority through better situational awareness. There is a pressing need to design fusion algorithms that combine data from heterogeneous sensors, with the goal of identifying well-defined Force Protection and Border Security threats. Data fusion for netted sensors requires sensor-to-sensor communication, as well as communication tipping points between the netted sensors and the C2 Enterprise. Solutions are needed that fluidly respond to this multi-scale challenge. Quorum sensing or cell-to-cell "communication" in microbial populations has shown that bacteria can indeed act as a collective rather than only as individuals (Taga and Bassler, 2003). Analogously, an Enterprise has both individual and collective behavior. Decisions that are made at the collective scale (e.g. force) rely on information that is obtained at the individual scale (e.g. unit); this information must be communicated effectively. In this paper, insight gained from the mechanism used in a robust, adaptable biological system is applied to the technical challenge of data fusion for netted sensors.


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