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Guest Post

Empowering the military and first responders with IoT

Tactical edge computing will serve as the foundation for the internet of military things, which will become a national imperative to prevent first responder casualties.

Interconnected devices, machines and things affect every facet of industry and modern life, including consumer and retail spaces or industrial and manufacturing plants implementing environmental sensors, automation and edge computing. Technology has even changed modern warfare.

The internet of military things is a rapidly growing segment of IoT 2.0 accelerating in 2022 across operations in every branch of the armed forces and intelligence community.

In stark contrast to many of the edge computing use cases of the future like self-driving cars and drone-based deliveries, the internet of military things is about saving lives today by establishing information superiority in the field.

What are those needs going to be in 2022?

Despite increased tactical military sophistication, civilian, first responder and warfighter deaths rose in 2020. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, first responder casualties were up 96% in 2020. The final year of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan saw the highest military and civilian casualty rate since operations began to diminish in 2015. The average number of natural disasters in the last decade has climbed nearly 10% over the first 10 years of the century.

Escalating conflicts abroad and increased civil strife at home combined with a global pandemic and ever more frequent demand for natural disaster response means the risk to human life is at an all-time high.

The rise of tactical edge computing

Over 20 years ago, the concept of network-centric tactical engagement transformed traditional command structures, enabling data sharing between both new and old assets to create information superiority.

The proliferation of sensors, unmanned vehicles, command posts and mobile-enabled personnel has resulted in a field scenario that is increasingly complex and sophisticated.

During the same period, the market has seen the rapid adoption of centralized cloud computing services. Organizations have attempted to create sustainable competitive advantages using the cloud's benefits, namely the ability to deliver more agile IT infrastructure at a reduced cost.

But centralized cloud computing appears ill-suited for the era of network-centric tactical engagement. The mismatch is partly because of the outsourced, centralized nature of cloud computing and partly because of the untenable nature of applying traditional cloud application architectures to deployment scenarios characterized by impermanent and transient infrastructure.

Tactical edge computing can be described as decentralized cloud computing whereby services can be used in geographically remote areas where reliance on communication with a centralized cloud is no longer needed. Given this decoupling of traditional cloud architectures, organizations can shape tactical edge computing to suit the environment. Decentralized computing will usher in the era of the "bizarre" looking data centers -- such as forward operating bases, personnel carriers, or data centers in a box.

More importantly, tactical edge computing will enable augmented intelligence for warfighters and first responders by embracing distributed application development and deployment. Distributed computing is the key to delivering real-time performance for data processing and data fusion algorithms that will drive innovation, such as real-time threat assessment and response, autonomous traffic systems for emergency services and precision navigation. These are future applications that will save lives by decentralizing decision-making and bringing the power of real-time data to the field.

The internet of military things is no trend. It's imperative for the success and safety of civilians, first responders and warfighters in dangerous situations worldwide. The foundation of the internet of military things is tactical edge computing. It is coming, and in 2022 it will become a national imperative to create a secure, resilient and strong infrastructure capable of meeting the needs of the nation and the world.

About the author

John Cowan is co-founder and CEO of EDJX. He is regarded as the company's business model visionary and is the author of the company's overall commercial strategy. Cowan is approaching 20 years of experience leading early stage company strategy execution, including raising and managing venture capital, identifying and executing potential mergers and acquisitions, and recruiting and developing high-performance teams and advisory boards.

Cowan presently serves on the board of directors of 6fusion USA Inc., Requis LLC and EDJX Inc., and was previously a member of the board of managers for Unified Communication X LLC.

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