Army shares virtual data in a commanding way

Enhanced app updates maps, provides information in real time

Troops in Iraq can, no matter where they're stationed, communicate as if they were sitting around the same table. Using what the Army calls the Command Post of the Future system, each serviceman can see the same photos and documents, and scribble on the same sheet of virtual paper.

Commanding officers in Iraq conduct battle update briefs by logging on to the CPOF system and looking at the data entered by other officers. Commanders update the photos and data in the system in real time, and anyone on the system has access to all updated information, said Dave Stevens, principal engineer for CPOF.

'This allows the commander to interactively collaborate in both voice and data resulting in a more comprehensive, real-time understanding of the battlefield,' said Col. Harold Greene, the Army's project manager for battle command, in a press release.

The CPOF system is based on the Blue Force Tracking architecture, which serves as the Army's Global Positioning System, and provides the warfighter with automatically updated information on the location of other friendly humvees and some enemy vehicles.

The Army also uses the system to conduct mission rehearsals, using real-time photos and information gathered in the system. The rehearsals increase troop safety and officials believe have even saved lives, Stevens said.

CPOF runs on a standard PC running Microsoft Windows, but utilizes three monitors.
The command post features voice integration software and lets users exchange documents, highlight important information, and draw and gesture on the same map using the white-boarding feature.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developed the system 10 years ago to improve collaboration. In 2003, the Army took the system to Iraq, and in 2006 the Army Battle Command Systems implemented it. Currently, there are 600 CPOFs in use, Stevens said.

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