NORAD command post uses RGB Spectrum windowing technology

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Missile- and air-defense experts at the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are using a computer graphic windowing environment from RGB Spectrum in Alameda, Calif., to help monitor continental airspace.

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By John McHale

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Missile- and air-defense experts at the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are using a computer graphic windowing environment from RGB Spectrum in Alameda, Calif., to help monitor continental airspace.

Engineers at SM&A Corp.`s Information Technology Solutions Group in Colorado Springs, Colo., are using video windowing technology from RGB Spectrum for the Integrated Control Center Environment (ICCE) system at NORAD at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

NORAD`s primary command post, buried deep inside Cheyenne Mountain above Colorado Springs, monitors airspace activity for the United States and Canada for manned-aircraft and missile threats. The mission requires quick access to video, satellite, and radar data.

SM&A experts are using RGB`s SuperView 500 video processor to provide the multi-input display capability of the ICCE system. The SuperView processor provides an architecture that can control everything from video cameras and VCRs to multiple proprietary computer systems.

"We developed the SuperView 500 with environments like NORAD in mind," says Robert P. Marcus, president of RGB Spectrum. "Many of our customers for this product are high-level command facilities where the operators must have good focus of attention to make critical decisions quickly. Our SuperView supports decision-making by providing for the intelligent display of all kinds of signals — data, video, satellite, radar — on the same screen."

SM&A engineers were brought in to consolidate NORAD`s systems into the ICCE and make the operators` jobs more manageable. Operators at have been using equipment from different government contractors over the past 20 years. They must jockey among a variety of monitors and keyboards, switch channels on monitors to view specific video, satellite, and radar data — and be ready to make decisions within minutes.

The SuperView 500 controller displays as many as 10 real-time inputs in video windows on one high-resolution monitor or projector. The window inputs can be NTSC or PAL, Composite and S-Video, FLIR, and high-resolution analog RGB. Operators can position each window, scale it to full screen, overlay it with computer graphics, or overlap it with other windows. In addition, the user can pan and zoom within each video image.

NORAD leaders needed to consolidate a large platform of monitors to save space, and to help manage information more effectively, Marcus says.

"ICCE was developed in collaboration with the government to clean up the proliferation of hardware inside the mountain," explains Charlie Baird, assistant vice president for marketing at SM&A Corp. "This one console replaces up to six or more devices operators previously had to control."

ICCE is a hardware and software-based system that integrates audiovisual, multimedia, video, and multiple proprietary computer systems, all of which can be viewed and controlled via one or two monitors in a console, one universal keyboard that remaps to the various systems, and a mouse.

For more information on the SuperView 500 contact RGB Spectrum by phone at 510-814-7000, by fax at 510-814-7026, by mail at RGB Spectrum, 950 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, Calif. 94501, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.rgb.com.

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Display windowing software from RGB Spectrum will be inside NORAD`s Cheyenne Mountain complex.

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