The word “common” in the term “common operational picture” does not mean that all participants have the same display picture; rather, it means that all participants have access to common sources of data, which could be displayed in different ways depending on the needs and equipment of the particular user. Command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) architecture access to data is the key here. From a network-centric perspective, users should have access to data as soon as they are in some comprehensible form, even though further processing of the data might be intended. This is because different users will have different needs for the data, and the additional processing might remove information content according to the perspectives of some users. For example, air vehicle tracks could be processed with the criteria of minimizing false-alarm rates or in order to display all potential leakers; the resulting processed data would not be the same in the two cases. Common processing will have to be applied in cases, for example, in which the parties involved need to see the same air picture, but the data should still be accessible in their preprocessed form.
NASA researchers sponsored by Dryden’s Small Business Innovation Research program introduced airborne science networking capabilities, such as telepresence and over-the-horizon, on an aircraft bearing a payload of instrumentation with a combined gross weight of less than three pounds.
The battery-powered NightHawk micro air vehicle, built by Applied Research Associates Inc. of Randolph, Vt., communicated with ground systems via the Iridium Satellite constellation. Simultaneously, a mission monitor delivered situational-awareness information from the satellites as computer displays that ground personnel could then access.