Harris Helping Secure Information for Those Keeping Us Secure
Quick – how much time today did you spend on your computer or your mobile phone, connecting with others, seeking out information and transmitting it? How much of that information was private?
If you’re like most people, the answer to both questions is: quite a lot. The need for reliable, real-time information has never been more critical, and the demand for secure communication systems and networks that bring it to us has never been greater. But in some situations, traditional levels of network security and reliability simply aren’t enough. In these applications, individuals must have complete confidence in the information received and in the technology that is delivering it.
They include military personnel confronting the unknown; first responders in the midst of extreme peril; and pilots, healthcare specialists, industrial workers and thousands of other highly-skilled professionals working in the heat of must-succeed moments. Harris Corporation is purposefully taking communications and IT network security and reliability to an entirely new level of trust. It is one of the only companies specializing in advanced technology for capturing, aggregating, distributing and analyzing any type of communications or information – including voice, video, data and imaging.
Here are just a few examples of how this trusted technology touches our lives every day.
An Edge in Predicting and Tracking Storms
As we know all too well along the Space Coast, severe weather is one of the most persistent and destructive forces on our planet. Dangerous weather requires real-time warning and response, and weather professionals soon will have the ability to decipher, predict and relay impending weather threats to the public with unprecedented speed and accuracy.
Harris is building this new weather system capability for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It will decipher satellite images of the earth 40 times faster than current systems, putting forecasters well ahead of fast-moving, dangerous weather.
Harris technology will give thousands of meteorologists a critical edge in predicting and tracking storms by processing the satellite data and speeding images to them in only a few minutes instead of the 30 minutes it takes today.
Healthcare Transformation is in the Data
Experts estimate that nearly 100,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors. In addition to this tragic loss of life, in the U.S. we spend an estimated $300 billion each year on wasteful, duplicative healthcare activities and fraud.
A key to solving both of these challenges is better information. Hospitals and providers can better optimize care and save lives when all of a patient’s information is readily available at the time they need it most – now. In addition, payers can more effectively attack fraud with better information.
Harris is bringing actionable intelligence to the point of care. The Harris-built CONNECT software is enabling federal and commercial healthcare providers to quickly and easily share patient information over the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN), speeding the delivery of care and reducing errors.
For the Social Security Administration – the first agency to go live with CONNECT – the software has reduced from 83 days to mere seconds the time it takes to access health records needed to determine benefits.
Seamless Interoperability is Key to Emergency Response
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 brought into sharp focus the fact that emergency responders need dependable communications systems that can operate in virtually any conditions. These systems must provide reliable coverage within their jurisdictions while also communicating across jurisdictions and agencies.
Harris is at the forefront of making radio communications interoperability a reality for first responders. Using the company’s new Unity® XG-100 multiband radio, emergency personnel now can securely communicate with all equipment that uses the widely accepted interoperability standard, Project 25, on any land mobile radio frequency. This ensures that firefighters also can communicate with law enforcement and medical personnel, and that state emergency responders can communicate with local officials.
First responders also are assured that transmissions are crisp and clear through a proprietary Harris noise suppression technology designed to diminish high background noise levels common during a disaster. And, just as with Harris military radios, built-in GPS provides awareness of first responder locations.
Connecting Warfighters on the Move
The nature of warfare has changed. Our men and women in combat must quickly coordinate attacks against dispersed, agile enemies – whether hidden among populated urban environments or in the villages and caves of remote mountain ranges.
The ability to push real-time information down to the individual warfighter – and back up the command chain – is changing the way missions are fought on this new battlefield.
Warfighters gain a critical advantage when they can view real-time video of dangerous situations over the next hill, access maps on demand, spot locations of friends and foes, and quickly relay medical data for the wounded.
Harris has developed a suite of tactical communications products that enables commanders and combat troops alike to have the same vision of the battlefield at the same time. At the heart of this networked battlefield is the new Harris Falcon III® AN/PRC-117G manpack radio – the only battlefield-proven, mobile radio that simultaneously transmits secure voice, video and intelligence data.
For the first time, warfighters have unprecedented situational awareness, including the ability to view streaming video at the tactical edge using portable devices – one as small as an eyepiece that connects to a handheld receiver. Users are reporting that the Harris Falcon III radio is changing the way they are conducting missions, and is literally saving lives.
Volumes of Intelligence: What Does It All Mean?
Today’s intelligence and military communities have increasingly turned to video captured by unmanned ground, aerial and satellite systems to gather the information they need. More than 7,000 of these systems are estimated to be in use today.
But how do you manage and disseminate the massive volumes of information gathered by these systems and others in multiple formats and from various intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) satellites, sensors and networks? Relying on manpower alone to sort through all the data would be costly and time-consuming.
Harris, a longtime leader in managing the digital assets of broadcast and media networks, brought these unique skills to bear to create the Full-Motion Video Asset Management Engine (FAME™). Specifically designed for intelligence applications, FAME organizes, annotates and makes sense of large volumes of video information. Simultaneous video feeds, received in multiple formats from multiple sensor types, are ingested, annotated, discovered, exploited and shared in real time, providing warfighters with improved situational awareness.
Millions of Passengers in the Skies, Every Day
On an average day, some 87,000 flights and 2 million passengers cross U.S. skies. Keeping airplanes separated, and passengers safe, falls on the shoulders of an expert federal aviation team. Helping them control aircraft all along the journey, from takeoff to landing, are highly reliable and advanced communications networks and weather systems made possible by Harris.
The Harris-designed and managed Federal Aviation Administration Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) network provides the essential voice, data and video communications capabilities for nearly 50,000 FAA employees at more than 4,500 facilities. In addition, the Harris Voice Switching and Control System (VSCS) provides the critical air-to-ground and ground-to-ground communications links for en route aircraft and air traffic controllers.
When it comes to weather, air traffic controllers can directly view real-time, graphical weather data at their stations using the Harris Weather and Radar Processor (WARP) system. This system consolidates high-resolution weather data from several sources into a single, integrated display for air traffic operations, resulting in enhanced flight safety, decreased weather-related delays and fuel savings.
Taking Technology to a New Level of Trust
The common thread to each of these applications is the ever-increasing requirement for a higher level of trust in technology within certain applications. Harris continues to focus on assured communications solutions that provide this, both through internal research and development – the company invested more than $1 billion in R&D during its fiscal year 2010 – as well as through educational initiatives, among them the Harris Institute for Assured Information at Florida Tech.
About The Writer
R. Kent Buchanan is chief technol¬ogy officer for Harris Corporation and vice president of Engineering for the company’s Government Communications Systems Division. He is responsible for corporate technology plan¬ning, cross-division technology collaboration, technology licens¬ing, and development of dual-use (government-commercial) technol¬ogy, as well as an engineering and technology organization of more than 3,600 people that supports U.S. and international government programs.