Wednesday, 19 November 2014

IoT for Defence

I gave a talk about the Internet of Things for Defence on 18 November 2014. This is the World's biggest and best IoT meetup - here are my slides and some brief notes.

I started by making the point that this talk was not based upon any privileged information. For a start I don't have access to any and all of this information is available publicly on the internet.

Having been to many IoT events, researched a lot and even had some IoT jobs I gave some examples of things that I felt were 'a bit IoT'. The subtext here was that defence has been doing this for decades.

JTIDS is Joint Tactical Information Distribution System and C4ISR is Command, Control, Communications, Computing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
I used this as an example of connectedness. The graphic on the left is from the 1990s, the one on the right more recent. I pointed out how it was focussed on air related systems in the 90s but now uses more modern 'ICT' approaches to connect all types of platforms, assets and units.

Next examples were unmanned things, showing the use of embedded intelligence and control over the network. A benefit of being unmanned is the removal of certain constraints on performance (e.g. maximum g an aircraft can sustain) and mission duration (e.g. no toilet breaks). Another is the removal of risk of human harm by removing the operator to a distant location.
There have been a number of public announcements about the creation of a new Cyber Capability to defend and attack in the Cyber domain. I talk about how rare this type of event is and therefore how important it is...

...the last time a new capability was added was due to the invention of flight. Now compare today's generation of fast jets e.g. Typhoon to the first biplane. Our cyber capability is at the biplane stage, imagine how it is changing at today's levels of innovation and invention.

The last example is Integrated Systems Health Management where all sorts of military assets are being fitted with sensors to collect data relevant to their health and dependable operation. Data is sensed and acquired, transferred off platform for analysis to provide actionable information. Actions are taken to maintain dependable operation and also improve designs and upgrades.

This is the programme of a NATO Science & Technology Organisation workshop I organised and chaired in October 2014. It is shown to indicate the international interest in IVHM technologies and therefore IoT technologies. I also shows that the air domain has done a lot but other domains are catching up fast.

So to recap, those were examples of things that are 'a bit IoT' in Defence. I back this up by saying that these examples use some or all of these IoT technologies. This is necessarily an incomplete and summary view with no detailed explanation - I only had 10 minutes to talk!

 Now I focus on a couple of things that government are doing. There are a lot more announcement and quotes out there on the Internet, however I focussed on the UK's statement that MoD is looking at IoT and that this is growing to the energy, transport and healthcare sectors.
The next quote from Estonia's defence minister highlights the inclusion of critical national infrastructure in the defence realm caused by increasing use of the Internet.

The problem is that we are opening up many more vulnerabilities that are being probed, broken and exploited constantly. I shoed the live internet threat map to illustrate this (go to to watch it yourself. It is both beautiful and scary at the same time.

The UK's Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure lists 9 categories of critical national infrastructure that must be defended. As IoT makes more of an impact on these areas, defence will have to continuously keep pace particularly through its Cyber capability.

That's it. I reiterated that this is all based on easily found public information and that I don't have any classified knowledge behind my talk.

I forgot to shamelessly plug a meetup I created at the beginning of November 2014. IoT for Art & Entertainment is meeting on 3 Dec, 7PM, Royal College of Art.

I've created this blog post to share with the IoT community - please do comment below I'd be very happy to talk further.