N24A-T007 TITLE: Integrated Environmental Model System for Platform Situational Awareness
OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Trusted AI and Autonomy
OBJECTIVE: Develop an Integrated Environmental Model System (INTEMS) that acquires, aggregates, and validates shore-based environmental predictions for naval platforms systems.
DESCRIPTION: The Navy provides a comprehensive set of global forecasts via Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC), but they are not available on most platforms or accessible to on-board systems. Safety of navigation, mission logistics, operational efficacy, electromagnetic and acoustic sensor performance, and other aspects of maritime operations depend on atmospheric and oceanic conditions that change suddenly, and which are hard to predict. Environmental models, especially shore-based supercomputer models, empower the Navy to capitalize on favorable conditions and to prepare for extreme weather events. This is especially true in shallow littoral environments where conditions such as ocean currents, wind, waves, and eddies are harder to predict and are more impactful. It is therefore desirable to have an integrated environmental model as an on-board system that acquires and provides estimates of current and future environmental conditions as a service to other ship-board systems.
The Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) currently deploys a powerful environmental modeling computer system named Navy Integrated Tactical Environment System Next (NITES-Next). NITES-Next contains a broad range of tools for tasks such as data maintenance, environmental analysis, Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) visualization, optical and radio-frequency sensor performance prediction, sonar performance prediction, environmental impact estimation, coastal environment predictions, hazard predictions, and search and rescue tools. These tools are powerful but require an on-platform operator, both to manually access shore-based predictions from FNMOC and to operate the complex modeling software environment.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on the other hand, utilizes the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA), a web-based geographic information system (GIS) tool developed to support environmental planning and response efforts. ERMA integrates various types of data, including environmental, weather, and oceanographic information, into a centralized platform. It facilitates real-time visualization, analysis, and collaboration among response teams and stakeholders during environmental incidents such as oil spills, hazardous material releases, and natural disasters.
In addition to these capabilities, there is a growing emphasis on Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) systems, specifically those focused on environmental risks. These MDA systems integrate various data sources, including environmental, weather, and oceanographic information, to provide a comprehensive understanding of potential environmental risks in the maritime domain. By monitoring and analyzing factors such as sea state, wind conditions, ocean currents, and water temperature, MDA systems can identify and assess environmental hazards that may affect naval operations.
The Navy seeks a capability for an integrated environmental system that can passively download, curate, and calculate operational parameters in an ongoing manner, making the data available to NITES, ERMA, MDA or other on-board systems. Despite the name, the current NITES-Next systems are not integrated. They primarily act as decision aids for human operators and do not provide parameters to any on-board sensors or weapon systems. The Navy aims to enhance the integration and automation of environmental data within on-board systems to streamline operations, improve situational awareness, and support timely decision-making across various naval platforms. There is currently no commercial capability that meets the Navy needs.
A solution is needed for an INTEMS that provides pertinent environmental information to ship-board systems as a service. The solution must be capable of ingesting, processing, validating, and publishing environmental data from potential authoritative data sources such as FNMOC, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, or Naval Oceanographic office. It must assess the accuracy, feasibility, storage requirements, and computational requirements for each of the processes. Using the shore-based forecasts, climatology, on-board sensors, or algorithms the INTEMS shall provide parameters pertaining to surface currents, surface waves, sea state, abyssal current, salinity, temperature, thermocline depth, wind, visibility (dust, moisture, ice), precipitation, atmospheric pressure, temperature, cloud cover (type, density, height), turbulence, aircraft icing, the boundary layer, and ionospheric conditions effecting electro-magnetic signal propagation.
The INTEMS must be able to incorporate a high-fidelity regional bathymetric map to provide improved predictions of surface currents, surface waves, temperature, and salinity in littoral areas.
The INTEMS solution will be implemented, either as software that runs on an on-board Navy computer system, or as a stand-alone computer system, based on computational requirements. It must be able to process graphical or gridded database environmental estimates and forecasts into gridded environmental estimates, which will be provided as a service for other on-board systems, displays, and geophysical databases. To interface with other systems, such as NITES, the INTEMS will be compatible with Open Geospatial Consortium compliant data formats (for example, NetCDF4). The now-casts and forecasts provided by the INTEMS must be available at multiple altitudes and depths with a fine enough resolution to model atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers.
The INTEMS will be required to provide timely global nowcasts and forecasts in situations where shore-based data is fully, partially, or not available. In all cases accuracy shall exceed or match climatology, but when additional shore-based or sensor data is available, the prediction skill should exceed persistence. The system shall provide statistical maximum, minimum, standard deviation, and mean estimates based on climatology and/or incorporated shore-based forecasts. Additional figure of merit shall indicate whether or not shore-based predictions are incorporated and if the data is valid based on its quality, consistency, or inherent unpredictability (due to qualitative factors).
PHASE I: Develop a concept of an INTEMS system. Demonstrate the INTEMS feasibly meets the parameters of the Description through analysis and modeling. The concept will be evaluated based on its soundness of the underlying analysis and the variety of environmental predictions offered. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.
PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype INTEMS based on the Phase I concept. Demonstrate functionality under the required service conditions as described in the Description. Demonstrate the prototype performance through the required range of parameters given in the Description. The INTEMS predictions will be evaluated over a multi-week period, conducted by the government and compared against both climatology and measurements occurring at distant weather stations to verify prediction accuracy and figure of merit reliability.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to Navy use. The INTEMS will be ruggedized, finalized, and adapted for integration with ship-board information systems and will undergo certification prior to final product testing on the naval platform.
This technology will benefit commercial shipping platforms, oil and gas exploration, and industrial operations in coastal regions by providing essential and up-to-date environmental data that can power decision making and enhance the ability for automated systems and sensors to compensate for environmental conditions.
KEYWORDS: Fleet Numerical Meteorology; Environmental Modeling; Open Geospatial Consortium; littoral environments; bathymetric map; Navy Integrated Tactical Environment System
** TOPIC NOTICE **
The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 24.A STTR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at www.defensesbirsttr.mil/SBIR-STTR/Opportunities/#announcements for any updates.
The DoD issued its Navy 24.A STTR Topics pre-release on November 28, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on January 3, 2024, and now closes February 21, (12:00pm ET).
Direct Contact with Topic Authors: During the pre-release period (November 28, 2023 through January 2, 2024) proposing firms have an opportunity to directly contact the Technical Point of Contact (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the specific BAA topic. Once DoD begins accepting proposals on January 3, 2024 no further direct contact between proposers and topic authors is allowed unless the Topic Author is responding to a question submitted during the Pre-release period.
SITIS Q&A System: After the pre-release period, until January 24, 2023, at 12:00 PM ET, proposers may submit written questions through SITIS (SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System) at www.dodsbirsttr.mil/topics-app/ by logging in and following instructions. In SITIS, the questioner and respondent remain anonymous but all questions and answers are posted for general viewing.
Topics Search Engine: Visit the DoD Topic Search Tool at www.dodsbirsttr.mil/topics-app/ to find topics by keyword across all DoD Components participating in this BAA.