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New alliance to tackle defense networks

IBM and Boeing are two of the partners in a project to develop next-generation networking for military use.

Stefanie Olsen Staff writer, CNET News
Stefanie Olsen covers technology and science.
Stefanie Olsen
2 min read
IBM announced on Monday a sweeping, $135 million bi-continental alliance to develop new networking technology for military defense.

The alliance is funded by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.K. Ministry of Defense, which have chosen IBM to lead a consortium of 24 academic and technology partners. The group will help the two nations realize a goal set in 2000: to broadly improve the secure communication networks between them.

The alliance, called the International Technology Alliance (ITA) in Network and Information Sciences, includes Boeing, Honeywell, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University and Imperial College in London. The research will span the campuses and headquarters of all 24 partners and will last more than eight years.

Thomas Killion, chief scientist of the U.S. Army lab, said ITA brings together the scientific communities on both sides of the Atlantic to share knowledge and develop forward-looking technologies, such as sensor and RFID networks.

"It is really as much about partnering with our closest ally as it is about addressing critical research challenges in network and information sciences that will enable us to foster next-generation tactical mobile networks," Killion said in a statement.

Dinesh Verma, program manager of ITA and an IBM researcher, said the research will delve into four scientific topics: network theory; security across a system of systems; sensor information processing and delivery; and distributed coalition planning and decision making. Projects include building out an RFID network so that the sensors can transmit data wirelessly to one other and creating a centralized database, which could be accessed by authorized military.

Another project is focused on policy-based security, which is aimed at creating new techniques and software to disseminate high-level security orders to lower-level operations with ease, Verma said.

After a few years of research, the alliance plans to produce a new type of networked management system that is self-managing and self-organizing, Verma said, adding that it could be commercialized for corporate use, too. The alliance also hopes to plot a blueprint of how best to collaborate in a far-reaching consortium of this type.

"This is the largest consortium I know of that is conducting research into these areas and at this magnitude," Verma said.