In 2006, the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) established a collaborative research alliance with academia and industry, called the International Technology Alliance (ITA) to address fundamental issues concerning Network and Information Sciences. Under the ITA research program, a US-UK transition project on "ITA Policy Controlled Information Query and Dissemination" was funded in 2011 by OSD's Coalition Warfare Program (CWP). The goal of this CWP project is to develop an extensible capability of performing distributed federated query and information dissemination across a coalition network of distributed disparate data/information sources with access controlled policies.
The CWP project is lead by US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and UK Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl) with software development by IBM UK and IBM US. The CWP project exploits two key technology components developed within the ITA, namely the Gaian Database and integrated Access Policy Decision and Enforcement mechanisms. The Gaian Database (GaianDB) is a Dynamic Distributed Federated Database (DDFD) that addresses a need to share information among coalition members by providing a means for policy-controlled access to data across a network of heterogeneous data sources. GaianDB implements a SQL-compliant Store-Locally-Query-Anywhere (SLQA) approach providing software applications with global access to data from any node in the database network via standard SQL queries. Security policy is stored locally and enforced at the database node level, reducing potential for unauthorized data access and waste of network bandwidth.
A key metric of success for a CWP project is the transition of coalition-related technology from TRL-3 or 4 to TRL-6 or higher. Thus, the end goal of this CWP project was to demonstrate the GaianDB and policy technology within an operational environment at the NATO Intelligence Fusion Centre (NIFC) at Molesworth RAF. An initial demonstration of this technology in a 'stand alone' environment was undertaken at the NIFC in November 2011 using a data set comprised of 140,000 documents. Recently the system has been modified to include a secure authentication mechanism based on a Kerberos ticketing framework and this has now been integrated onto the NIFC Battlefield Information, Collection, and Exploitation System (BICES) network.
In summary, the paper discusses the CWP project; the two key technologies (i.e., Gaian Database and integrated Access Policy Decision and Enforcement mechanisms) developed within the US UK ITA research program; how these have been integrated into the NIFC BICES; and future plans for the program.