Like TiVo

By David Spark  |  Posted 2006-04-03 Print this article Print

... for the government"> The answer for White and his team was to attach a Cisco IP/TV system as part of every DataPath ET 2000 Portable satellite terminal. Each system comprised a Cisco IP/TV 3441 broadcast server with Program Manager 566 and could connect to the SIPRNet via a Cisco Fast Ethernet switch 3750.

MPEG-1 video eats up approximately 500MB for each hour a UAV records. Still, with the Cisco IP/TV system and the 6TB of storage capacity per unit, White said the network is holding a years worth of programming for all the UAVs. There is no redundancy built into the system.

Retrieving the video from the Cisco IP/TV system is like operating a very large TiVo but without the extensive search capability. Joseforsky said the querying of the video-on-demand portion is not as robust as the Marines would like it to be.

Read more here about Ciscos new videoconferencing system. "[The database portion is] the one piece we havent completely mastered," Joseforsky said.

Currently, all the video is saved and indexed in time segments. If the time of an event is known, a user can retrieve and multicast the information.

The Marine Corps Tactical System Support Activity has been looking into building up the system so that it can locate video by time and location, Joseforsky said.

"Were able to more intelligently respond to a situation or more accurately detect targets that we couldnt in the past," Joseforsky said. "Theres been several occasions where weve seen individuals on the ground or IEDs [improvised exploding devices] being planted. Were able to take that information and use it to our benefit."

One huge benefit that Joseforsky said he didnt plan on was the ability of the VSWAN to connect to the EPLRS, or Enhanced Position Location Reporting System. Its the Marines line-of-sight data radio network that soldiers in the field use for communications.

Once data from the VSWAN feeds into the SIPRNet, it can be used by any system connected to the network, such as EPLRS. Soldiers about to enter a hostile situation take advantage of this by connecting to EPLRS to see live MPEG-4 UAV video streaming at 100K bps at 10 fps (frames per second).

"The more places we can get the video into the right peoples hands, the more informed those guys on the ground will be," Joseforsky said.

"When youre out there waiting for this information for situational awareness, I think its extremely important that it gets there as fast as it can so you can make [the] right decisions. So you can go out there and save lives," White said.

David Spark is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. He can be contacted at

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