Government trainers take a page from the NFL playbook

Government trainers take a page from the NFL playbook

If the National Football League can outfit its players’ uniforms with radio frequency identification chips to give coaches and fans statistics on players’ movements, why can’t that same technology be used to help train the military and law enforcement officers?

That was the thinking of Francis Hoang, chief strategy officer at Momentum Aviation Group – a global situational awareness company –  that developed such a system in partnership with Zebra Technologies and Renaissance Sciences Corp.  Giving customers the ability to have situation awareness they wouldn’t otherwise – whether from the air or on the ground –was the driving force behind the development of the project, Hoang said.

After seeing what Zebra Technologies had done with the National Football League and NASCAR (where it measures performance of pit crew members and equipment to speed efficiency), Hoang thought that similar motion analysis technology could help train military and law enforcement.

Prompt, accurate and coordinated response – be it to an active shooter in Chicago or in a raid on a compound in Syria – is critical for members of the law enforcement and military communities.  For these operators, practice makes perfect.  However, assessing the performance of trainees in real time during exercises has been an inexact science.  But RFID tracking could significantly aid students and more importantly, instructors, providing objective measurements of each trainee involved in an exercise.    

The TEAMWorks real-time performance intelligence system uses real time location systems that make it possible to automate and capture measurements of live action in a variety of training scenarios and environments, according to a MAG whitepaper.

The system works by placing quarter-sized radio frequency identification tags on a student or equipment.  These tags emit a signal 20 times per second, which is picked up by a mounted receiver within 1,000 ft. line of sight in the training environment.  The receiver then transmits the location data collected from the signal to a hub.  Software analyzes the raw performance data and presents it in more useful forms such as visualizations that include tactical maps and videos or overlays that can be viewed in real time or saved for review by students or instructors.  The data can also be turned into performance statistics to track speed, distance and timing of operators. 

During training exercises, these real-time performance intelligence systems collect data such as the precise location and orientation of all students and other role players; the location and orientation of objects such as pistols, rifles and stun grenades; the state of a training facility such as open or closed windows and doors; and bio-signals such as respiration and heart rate.

These systems can be used in a variety of training environments across disciplines.  For example, military instructors can use it in training at tactical shoot houses or raid houses where they can gain valuable data on students’ techniques and form -- such as the location of each team member, time required for team members to line up (or stack up) in front of a door prior to forced entry, verification of the stack order, time to breach, time to deploy stun gun, time to enter the breached room, time to clear room, time to rescue potential hostages and time to eliminate all threats. 

In a similar manner, the TEAMWorks system can assist instructors in active shooter drills with members of law enforcement.  During a recent demonstration at the 2015 International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, a team responded to an active shooter scenario in a miniature shoot house constructed on the floor of the conference hall.  During the walkthrough, an instructor was able to see, in real time, the exact path, location, the orientation of weapons used by the operators and time stamps of actions taken.  This information can also be viewed following the exercise for more accurate after-action reports to show or compare students’ performance.

Hoang explained that there are additional improvements in the works for the TEAMWorks motion analysis system.  These include Bluetooth-enabled tags that can carry and send information – such as biometric data – to devices, three axis accelerometers that are capable of spatial awareness and wireless tag receivers, which will enable the system to be deployed operationally.  Currently, receivers must be wired and stationed at a hub, Hoang said.  But wireless receivers will allow for a real-time location system to be set up on the fly in any environment.  This capability, combined with Bluetooth technologies to send biometric data to commanders during operations, would provide unprecedented situational awareness.        

Editor's note: This article was changed Jan. 7 to include Renaissance Sciences Corp., a partner in the TEAMWorks solution.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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Reader Comments

Thu, Jan 7, 2016 Dr Cortez Lawrence Emmitsburg, MD

This is really excellent information. I suppose that the same tecnnology would/could be applied to an actual operation to track team progress? Does it lend itself to detemrining which floor in a structure the tagger personnel are on? Has it been applied to firefighter locating in training or real fires? I would like to know more. Thanks, CL

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