Net-Centric Collaborative Environment for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-022
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-022 TITLE: Net-Centric Collaborative Environment for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Information Systems


OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative collaboration environment for Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) that provides interaction across various software and hardware platforms.

DESCRIPTION: The Navy is interested in an innovative algorithm solution to improve the collaboration abilities for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities as they relate to the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) program. LCS is working toward supporting a broader surface combatant force transformation strategy, recognizing that many future threats are emerging in shallow water regions, where the ability to operate near-shore and in rivers will be vital for mission success. With current lower manning levels assigned to the ASW mission, the need exists to enhance operator efficiency with a focus on ease-of-use, intuitive situational awareness, and data sharing across multiple LCS users and computer platforms through an innovative solution.

Currently, the LCS platform has a number of displays for showing tactical data. Each display is configured to show a limited data set from a predefined application suite. Operator efficiency will be enhanced if data is not limited to a single display, application, or hardware platform. The current process involves moving user interfaces to other monitors. This requires an application that supports virtual network connections with a broader vision of various hardware types. Existing virtualization solutions are typically limited by computer operating systems, and by only showing the desktop of one machine on another. The end result is a restrictive collaboration space. The Navy supports forms of collaboration, such as chat. A single collaboration paradigm would address sharing of various data types. A solution that meets this need would improve the performance and capability of the LCS ASW mission.

Expanded desktop sharing to the next generation of collaboration of pictures, videos, screen shots, chat, video white boarding, and remote desktop sharing is needed. Creating an algorithm for a collaborative environment that allows this would enable easier, less expensive integration of the best-of-breed applications and simplify bringing in new future capabilities. This requires a seamless, unified system where operating systems, display resolutions, and hardware are not inhibiting factors [ref. 1]. With a unified set of collaboration algorithms, the user can repeatedly use the same interfaces, including common mouse and gesture swipes and same menu items to open, close, and transfer data objects. Training time is reduced with the reuse of interfaces and a solution that mimics widely-available commercial collaboration tools (Facebook, iPads, etc.).

An algorithmic solution is needed to support a blend of different technologies across different acquisition life cycles, leverage existing technologies, minimize the need for extensive training, and support traditional communication channels while augmenting innovative ideas [ref. 2]. A reduction in maintenance, manning, and operation costs will be a part of any proposed resolution.

PHASE I: The company will develop a concept for a collaborative environment for LCS that meets the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concept can be feasibly developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established through collaborative demonstrations and Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) capability assessments. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan, which addresses technical risk reduction and provides performance goals and key technical milestones.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in Phase II development plan and the Navy requirements for the collaborative environment for LCS. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles with LCS ASW specific data sets and ASW pertinent user interfaces. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III: The company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The company will develop a collaborative environment for LCS according to the Phase III development plan for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The use of social networks (such as Facebook, Twitter) and mobile platforms (such as iPhone, Android, tablets) are ubiquitous in terms of their daily use both in and out of the Navy. Efforts as part of this SBIR that achieve broad collaboration across technologies and platforms could operate well in the wider context of the commercial market and companies interested in rapid prototyping and reducing time to market (TTM). Any large corporation or organization that has the need to communicate across wide area networks or internet technologies could leverage the use of this new collaborative technology.

1. Maybury, Mark. "Collaborative Virtual Environments for Analysis and Decision Support." Communications of the ACM Volume 44 December 2011: 3 pages.

2. Tossell, Chad (CAPT), "Collaborative Tool for Command and Control Team Effectiveness Studies", Nov 2008. Institute for Information Technology Applications, United States Air Force Academy. 13 Mar 2013 <>

KEYWORDS: Desktop sharing, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), collaboration space, virtual network connections, virtualization solutions, intuitive situational awareness

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