DCGS Integrated Backbone deploys full year ahead of schedule

Next month the final of five core U.S. Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) sites will incorporate the DCGS Integrated Backbone (DIB), bringing on the DIB deployment one full year ahead of schedule and transforming common technologies into tools that bring added speed and lethality to intelligence data, say officials at the Air Force Electronic Systems Center (ESC).

By John McHale

HANSCOM AFB, Mass. - Next month the final of five core U.S. Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) sites will incorporate the DCGS Integrated Backbone (DIB), bringing on the DIB deployment one full year ahead of schedule and transforming common technologies into tools that bring added speed and lethality to intelligence data, say officials at the Air Force Electronic Systems Center (ESC).

The Air Force DCGS consists of global sites capable of receiving, processing, storing, correlating, exploiting, and disseminating intelligence feeds from multiple sources. Those sources can be based on the ground, in the air or at sea.

“We took advantage of the fact that the DIB technology was matured and effectively done and, with concurrence from Air Combat Command, decided to deploy it early,” says Col. Alan Tucker, 950th Electronic Systems Group commander at ESC at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.

The 950th ELSG’s DIB, a part of the Air Force DCGS 10.2 program, enables the sharing of data between sites and carries with it the capacity to change how data workflow is processed. A metadata catalog linked to the DIB allows users to access information via a search engine like those on the Web. Using a key word, target, interest type or geographic area, users can search through libraries of information.

The DCGS DIB has already been fielded to four of its five sites-Langley AFB, Va., Beale AFB, Calif., Hickam AFB, Hawaii and Osan AB, Korea. In April, Ramstein AB, Germany, will be the final of the sites to get the DIB upgrade

With the introduction of DIB to the legacy imaging capabilities of the five sites, new images entering the system are identified, categorically tagged, and incorporated into the database. The imagery itself, along with specifics like location and target information, can then be searched immediately by users, ESC officials say.

“Literally within seconds of a new image arriving-whether from a U2 collection or other ISR imaging sensor-it is tagged, much like in a library, and put in a database,” Tucker says.

Another feature of the DIB allows users to customize alerts that meet specified criteria. This capability allows for incoming data, once tagged, to be sent directly to users via e-mail, thus eliminating the time and effort ordinarily needed to search for the data.

“Instead of having to go find something, we’re letting the machinery work for us to tell us that the information is now available,” Tucker says. “If I’m seeking out information about Korea or what’s going on in Iraq, I’m now immediately notified that an image has come in.”

The integration of this type of common technology, says DIB Program Manager Maj. Guy Mathewson, is one that translates easily for operators. “If you ask the operators, they will tell you that they have these types of capabilities at home. They get these with news services and business information. The DIB technology builds off of this to bring an added edge to the way and the speed at which the warfighter works.”

By eliminating the need to hunt for information or request special permissions to view data, the added collaboration benefits the service ISR communities, and, at a national level, organizations like the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

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