Small Wars Journal

Mad Scientist Initiative - Installations of the Future: Day in the Life of a Garrison Commander

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 6:21am

Mad Scientist Initiative - Installations of the Future: Day in the Life of a Garrison Commander


AT&T Global Public Sector: Roger Wong, Usha Mohan, Michael Canty, Tina Chester, Richard Chung and Terry White


This article is the latest addition to the U.S. Army TRADOC G2 Mad Scientist Initiative’s Future of Warfare 2030-2050 project at Small Wars Journal.




The rapid development and deployment of ubiquitous connectivity with most, if not all, manufactured products, commonly referred to as The Internet of Things (IoT), is having a revolutionary effect on how people interact with their environment as they live, play, and work. This revolution is fundamentally changing the design, implementation, and use of infrastructure spawning Smart Schools, Smart Cars, Smart Homes, Smart Cities, Smart Buildings, and Smart Campuses with technologies/functionalities that are applicable in creating Smart Garrisons. Herein, “Smart Garrison” denotes a secure, multi-building Army garrison that is highly interactive and collaborative.


IoT refers to devices connected to the cloud or simply to a local network that is either public or private. IoT devices can be small and constrained, e.g., single function devices like temperature sensors or motion detectors that send small amounts of data to the network; they can also be micro to small computers that process data at the edge before transmitting to the network; cameras that transmit high definition video; or something akin to a connected car with 1,000s of sensors – an IoT environment on wheels. Clearly, the Internet of Things has already evolved to encompass nearly anything connected to the network.


With IoT devices in mind, this White Paper discusses the Garrisons of today, and what technologies may enhance Garrison operations of today from the viewpoint of a Garrison Commander. Section 2 provides a hypothetical day in the life of a Garrison Commander in the future, and Sections 3 thru 6 discusses present and potential future technologies that may be used to create a Smart Garrison environment in support of the Garrison Commander and his/her staff.


Day in the Life of a Garrison Commander


A Garrison Commander is responsible for the operations, management, and safety of the garrison and its personnel/visitors. To that end, garrisons of the future should have the ability to improve situation awareness, threat detection, threat identification, and threat mitigation. Scenario below discusses a potential day in the life of a Garrison Commander in the future with situations that may occur at certain times throughout his day.


02:00 Hrs. - Garrison commander, who has opted to be alerted for Threat Level Alpha, is awakened by an Alert on his phone stating a is drone 2 miles from the post was intercepted by the Smart Surveillance system and was determined to carry a small bomb in its fuselage. The drone was commandeered to land at monitoring site 5 miles away and the bomb was disabled. Threat averted! With CONUS installations managing tactical operations abroad with autonomous vehicles, they have become targets for attack. Sophisticated systems ingesting vast amounts of data from sensors and surveillance systems use Artificial Intelligence to determine threats versus non-threats, decrease false positives and take action in an automated fashion. Automated threat mitigation relies on analytics from machine learning along with advanced/robust network communications to enable real-time decision making.


07:00 Hrs. - Commander gets ready for work and asks his mobile device for any alerts and status. As he is getting ready, information from his dashboard is summarized and read out to him. Frictionless gate entry status: 10 secs per arrival- 0 incidents, 2 intrusions detected on his Smart Fence - perimeter defense system, Drone patrol dispatched immediately and determined to be harmless, Air Quality sensors - detected increased amounts of allergens not dangerous but alerted the Health Department with a sample/profile, Water (quality detection in the water supply lines: transmission main on campus and distribution lines) and soil Quality sensors - Normal, Perimeter sensors (thermal, vibration, moisture/flood etc.) - normal, All building management systems working optimally except for Building 75 where the temperature is 3 degrees higher than set point. The Building Analytics system is analyzing the reason for this and will be taking action shortly. You have saved $2.4M YTD on energy savings and labor costs. The water leak detection (acoustic sensors in potholes and fire hydrants) system is closely monitoring 6 leaks caused by the earthquake 3 months ago, 4 major ones are fixed, and 2 smaller ones are scheduled to be fixed. Water loss from leaks has been minimized from 20000 gallons a day to 100 gallons a day. Fuel Monitoring system alerts that the current fuel levels are only enough to sustain garrison operations for 2.5 weeks. It has automatically placed the order for fuel to support an additional half week of operations. Structure Monitor sensors, monitoring the supply lines for the garrison, have detected 9 cracks in buildings, bridges, railroad lines and roads within a 3-mile radius of the garrison. Only 1 of them was determined to be severe and Public Works has been dispatched to repair it. The 10 containers carrying supplies and munitions from this garrison to multiple locations in the Middle East and Afghanistan have been successfully tracked and delivered (Container View). Asset monitoring system has received notification of a sensitive missile container being tampered with while in the air. Using Biometrics, the person has been identified as Sgt. Smith and an investigation has been initiated. All tanks, except 1, are ready for deployment with the latest versions, patches, maintenance, and instrumentation. One of the autonomous tanks was found to be infected with zero-day malware, situation has been remedied and it will be ready for deployment shortly.


07:30 Hrs. - Commander tells the electronic intelligent personal assistant (e.g., Amazon Alexa1) at his house to lock all doors. Smart Street lights turn on as his car approaches. As the commander approaches his office building, a biometric scan allows him access to the parking and the building. His room temperature, news/music are all set to his desired/known preferences. Vehicle telematics shows the vehicle was recently serviced.


10:00 Hrs. - Commander returns from a community building off base - License plate recognition, facial recognition, facial scan for passengers and explosives/threats inside the car - all this done instantly as he drives through.


13:20 Hrs. - Commander receives an alert that someone with an FBI's terrorist profile tried to access the base as a passenger and was detained successfully by the guard. FBI arrived within minutes, having received notification at the same time. Smart Surveillance solutions with facial and license plate recognition works seamlessly with vast amounts of data shared between agencies to instantaneously make entry/no entry decisions.


16:32 Hrs. - Gunshot heard on campus and the Commander was immediately notified of the location of the shooter. The Gunshot detection solution triangulated the gunshot to a location other than the gun range and the drone patrol camera tracked the shooter and started streaming video of the scene. The Drone patrol camera automatically zoomed in on the suspect and captured close- ups of the shooter and the scene. Security arrived on the scene armed with real-time situational awareness on their mobile devices.


18:45 Hrs. - Water quality Alert -increased levels of toxin Arsenic identified, Time occurred between 16:30- 16:45 detected at 16:45pm, potential impact to residents of buildings 85, 87, 89. Potential consequences of ingestion - diarrhea, vomiting and death. Action taken - automatically shut off main water supply to the buildings 85, 87, and 89. Backup water supply tested safe and has been activated for those buildings. Public Works on post and Utilities (off post) have been alerted. Water quality data has been distributed. Using a Global messaging solution, impacted personnel have been notified to only drink filtered water.


Situation Awareness


Garrisons of the future will have a vast pool of sensors that will provide real-time or near real- time information to aid in situation awareness of its commander and security staff. These sensors are part of IoT that includes any type of devices that attached to, and managed from, the network - wired and wireless. These devices are becoming a part of our daily lives. For instance, cameras used by a city’s transportation department allows real-time traffic monitoring and management to improve traffic flow, accident response, and security.


For a Smart Garrison, the types of devices could range from simple sensors that provide smart fencing and video, radar detection, smart surveillance, and smart lighting to advanced video streaming and analytics at both the device level and the edge of the network. Sections below discusses how IoT devices may be applied to Smart Garrisons to improve situation awareness for the garrison commander and his staff.


Smart Fencing and Video


IoT solutions that support military garrison video surveillance, intrusion detection, fleet management, and messaging are available in the market today. These IoT solutions deliver efficient and effective situational awareness while also automating communications that drive corrective actions across the garrison. Some solutions may define and trigger events on a specific sensor based on the inputs of another. For example, when an infrared-based Smart Fence detects a breached perimeter, it may trigger a Smart Video Surveillance solution to activate a live video feed of the breached zone as well as recording the event as it takes place. Trigger definitions may be dynamically created by the Command Post personnel based on their intimate knowledge of the space that they want defended.


A Smart fence solution may be deployed in a series of stealth perimeter towers that may utilize solar power and placed in locations to form an infrared fence line to detect intrusions. Using solar power eases the installation process and creates placement opportunities in remote areas that may otherwise be limited by fixed utility power. The active IR “beam fence” utilizes a pulsed beam array that extends between the towers and requires a physical action to trigger and alarm. Being solar powered, the IR fence may be integrated with a smart video system that continuously records video at the edge, but will send video over cellular service (e.g., LTE, 5G, etc.) to the command center whenever an IR fence is triggered. The camera’s capability to process and store video at the edge decreases backhaul transmission demand and minimizes the financial burden associated with data transmission by the Garrison.


Additionally, the solution may support the integration of an intrusion event with the location of garrison patrols. In this scenario, messaging would be directed to the garrison patrol nearest the intrusion event when the perimeter is breached. In this instance, the Garrison Security would integrate data from infrared sensors with messaging and GPS to “communicate” to the nearest base patrol, including displaying the video-fed images from the surveillance solution.


Radar Detection


An approach to enhancing base security involves overlapping layers of technology: infrared beams broadcast from “stealth towers” to detect movement on the outer perimeter complemented by wired cameras and radar. The radar systems provide volumetric coverage inside the stealth perimeter, a backup or redundancy to stealth tower detection, and tracking of the intruders to intercept. Additionally, radar technology may detect drones that cross into restricted air space or flight lines. This combination of overlapping technologies with data integrated and analyzed in the Garrison Security Command Center delivers benefits in the form of a superior and redundant design when compared to camera-only systems with costs that can be far less due to the lower requirement for infrastructure.


A Radar detection system may be a compact pulse-Doppler radar that activates when motion is detected in the prescribed surveillance area, such as parking lots, open spaces, air space, flight lines, etc. Radar operates via radio frequency by “bouncing” a signal off of an object and tracking that object’s movement throughout the surveillance area. Surveillance radar may be a cost-effective solution to reinforce or protect areas where additional security coverage is required or not available. This capability may provide all-weather, day-night target detection in wide area, perhaps tens of acres. With an integrated server, the radar detection system may be capable of tracking hundreds of targets simultaneously.


In addition, future over-the-air detection systems may incorporate chemical/bomb detection sensors using radar, sound waves, or other technologies. This future capability will allow detection of flying drone-based chemical/bomb threats at a far enough distance for the Garrison to detect, identity, and mitigate the threat before it enters near the garrison’s airspace.


Smart Surveillance


Smart Surveillance can allow IoT end-points to integrate relevant video to a map-based software platform. The video data can then be correlated to other disparate data points to enable flexible, searchable, and visual solutions that allow security personnel quickly obtain the information desired for both situational awareness and evidentiary requirements.


End-points that capture video can fit user requirements and environments. Solutions may be scalable from single cameras to thousands of simultaneous streams with each device that will enable recording and analytics at the edge. A single visualization platform can assemble the disparate data and video feeds to enable quick access to all sources of information. The aggregated situational view can be accessed from any networked device, giving personnel the information that is needed. All transmission of data can be carried over a secure wireless network (e.g., LTE, 5G, etc.) to ensure maximum fidelity of sensitive information and video feeds.


License Plate Scanning


The ability to quickly scan vehicles as they approach garrison entry points is an essential tool for ensuring safety and security. Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) systems are comprised of high-speed, computer-controlled cameras that photograph every license plate that crosses its line of sight and captures location, date, and time. ALPRs may be mounted at stationary locations such as telephone poles, traffic lights, and at the entrances of garrisons. In addition, ALPRs may be combined with biometric technology, such as facial recognition for automatic entry approval, or the ability to determine whether someone approaching has a passenger. The data, which can include photographs of the vehicle and its driver and passengers along with biometric data, can be uploaded and analyzed at the Garrison Security Command Center.


Digital Infrastructure


What if a street light at an Army Garrison was capable of more than simply illuminating the street? Imagine a lamp post that could help lower garrison energy costs, increase efficiencies, maximizing capabilities within a small form factor, engage garrison personnel, and improve staff life in ways never imagined. Digital infrastructure solutions may utilize existing lighting networks to connect Army garrisons across the United States to the Internet of Things (IoT). With the ability to help improve transportation, public safety, air quality, pedestrian flow, and parking enforcement, the possibilities are endless on what a smart digital infrastructure may bring to an Army garrison.


A smart garrison digital infrastructure may work by utilizing single pieces of hardware (e.g., a compact pod) with integrated sensors and IoT digital infrastructure that are affixed to lamp posts, where it can harness data and deliver secure and actionable insights about the environment. For example, a pod may include HD cameras, GPS receiver, microphones, environmental sensors, and gunshot sensors. By utilizing public application programming interfaces (APIs), the solution may provide near real-time information that can be used to automate systems and optimize the performance of the other IoT devices connected to the garrison’s grid. This solution utilizes a Mobile Service Provider’s cellular network and secure cloud connections, and the data collected offers nearly unlimited opportunities for improvements. A digital infrastructure makes it easy to leverage any existing lighting infrastructure on a garrison, and should be mounted to any pole, almost anywhere in an Army garrison.


Facility/Building Management


Energy Management


Recognizing the Garrison’s dependence on power and utilities as a key element of Readiness, the Industrial Control Systems (ICS), Building Control Systems (BCS) and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) need to be secured and privately connected (i.e. not visible to the internet). With increased devices and automation, energy consumption is through the roof. Managing and optimizing energy and operations cost are critical to the Garrison budget. Per the Garrison’s Readiness plan, electricity and power availability is critical always and spurs the need for redundant power supply and generators.


Challenges in this space traditionally have been:

  • Multiple legacy building control systems – very expensive to replace;
  • Legacy connectivity mechanisms (constantly evolving); and
  • Monitor and manage Cybersecurity exposure (constantly evolving).

There are 2 critical components of an effective energy management solution:

  • Optimizing Energy / Labor costs and Predictive maintenance of the equipment:
    • Connecting the building controls and industrial controls securely, the data is then seamlessly extracted, collated, and analyzed using Big Data techniques to derive optimizations in energy operations and labor costs. Inefficiencies and waste are identified and fixed. Predictive maintenance of equipment vs. reactive or regular scheduled maintenance prolongs the life of equipment and decreases capital costs.
    • Dashboards to track and manage Energy & Labor costs/ savings
  • Cybersecurity of the ICS/BCS/AMI systems:
    • In order to optimize costs, the systems need to be connected and the data extracted from the systems. Cybersecurity is of paramount consideration when connecting these systems.
    • Secure connectivity with modern levels of encryption is recommended for these sensitive systems.
    • Using an inexpensive lightning fast wireless network and creating a private tunnel end to end for this traffic will ensure that it is securely protected from exposure to the internet.


A Smart Energy Management solution, leverages existing infrastructure, only replacing broken parts, securely connects the infrastructure, performs Big Data Analytics on the collected data, automates the optimizations and actions, running a big network of ICS, BCS and AMI in a seamless, automated fashion.


It will quickly identify small inefficiencies, analyze the reason for it and automate actions to fix it, generating alerts and notifications as requested. The Dashboard monitors KPIs including the Energy and Labor cost savings and summarizes it for the commander as described in the 07:00 update.


Fuel monitoring system uses a variety of sensors and proactively tracks fuel levels. In addition to alerts and notifications, it automatically places orders to replenish it always ensuring enough fuel for at least 3 weeks of disconnecting from the grid as described in the 07:00 update.


Water Management


The ability for garrisons to detect leaks in water transmission and distribution systems is critical to reducing operational costs and to avoiding infrastructure collateral damage. Technologies for smart leak detection includes LTE-enabled Transmission Ultrasonic Sensors and Fire Hydrant Cap Sensors. Using cloud-based leak detection analytics enables immediate remediation and response resulting in maximizing cost savings and minimizing costly repairs.


Another aspect of water management is water quality sampling and detection by IoT devices installed inside pipelines, sinks, and/or washrooms. This technology may be available in the future for Garrisons to detect contaminants in the water supply, thus allowing networked water valves to automatically shutoff affect valves to minimize exposure to garrison personnel.


Structure Monitoring


Traditionally, organizations have relied on visual inspections to assess the state of their structures. Some locations may be remote or difficult to regularly assess and are, therefore, checked infrequently. Monitoring may be manual or visual requiring trained staff. Remote monitoring generally relies on older technology solutions that are bulky and not suited for the long-term.


A solution for smarter infrastructure analysis and monitoring should utilize LTE-enabled, battery-operated devices installed on targeted infrastructure capable of remotely monitoring structural factors. These devices contain crack sensors and tilt sensors and send alerts based on location, condition, and operation.


Garrisons benefit through improved safety and planning, a reduction in the number of manual inspections that may lower operations costs, and the ability to monitor structures in near real time via the Internet, anywhere in the world through a web-enabled device. The reuse of sensors on multiple areas of interest around the garrison may increase efficiency.


Community Outreach


Digital Kiosk


Army garrisons of the future may utilize digital kiosks to provide visitors, dignitaries, military retirees, and new recruits/transfers with site information to help them enjoy their stay at the garrison. Kiosks may include scheduled events, map of the garrison, directions, parking availability, etc. Visitors may download a garrison’s mobile application and sync with kiosks to acquire customized information about their schedule events, building locations, directions, and parking availability. If visitors get lost or separated from their parties, kiosks and the

downloaded garrison’s mobile application may be used to redirect them back to their desired destination.


Management of the digital kiosk will be performed remotely through the wireless network (e.g., 4G LTE, 5G, etc.). This enables the use of cloud-based servers that may manage multiple kiosks throughout the garrison, requiring the garrison’s IT department to update a single server with new garrison events/directions information.  The cloud server will in turn distribute any updates to all kiosks throughout the garrison. In addition, sensors placed throughout parking areas may update the cloud server automatically to provide real time updates on parking space availability to visitors and base staff. The cost of a digital Kiosk may be recuperated from advertisements from local or on-base vendors.


Local/Civilian Community Communications


When a Garrison needs to communicate with the local civilian community outside the Garrison regarding alerts and warnings today, it is done via a POTS line or VoIP desk phone. Interoperability between Garrison’s Land Mobile Radio (LMR) radios and First Responders networks in the Civilian population is lacking. With the advent of the nationwide FirstNet communications platform, built with AT&T, there is a reliable, and highly secure 4G LTE network dedicated to First Responders in the Federal, State, Tribal and Local governments when they need it. One of the key elements of FirstNet is to provide critical interoperability between all First Responders who subscriber to AT&T’s FirstNet services, including eligible Federal, State, and Local government entities who subscribe. FirstNet delivers a dedicated, interoperable communications platform and app ecosystem that provides the technology First Responders need to better communicate and collaborate across local, state, and national agencies and jurisdictions. It also enables improved communications and outcomes during emergencies across multiple disciplines and jurisdictions by enabling information sharing through a highly reliable, high speed, highly secure mobile network.


With eligible first responder entities able to subscribe to FirstNet today, and provided the Command Post and Commanders subscribe to FirstNet, Command Post and Commanders will be able to communicate to subscribing Federal, State and Local First Responders within the Garrison or outside in the local civilian community by using a single FirstNet 4G LTE Smart Phone or Tablet device.


Garrison Status and Communications


Communications with Garrison Staff


Today, the primary communications between Garrison security, fire department, MPs, and commanders during an emergency is via push-to-talk (PTT) radios that provide half-duplex voice communications with low data throughput (in the kbps) that are expensive. With advances in wireless/cellular technology and capabilities today, the same functionality that a PTT radio provides may be replaced by secure Smart Phones that not only provide PTT voice, but also include full-duplex high definition (HD) voice with high data throughputs in the Mbps over a 4G LTE network that are relatively inexpensive. In addition, wearables such as body cameras may be used by foot patrols to provide live video feeds back to the Garrison command post to improve incident detection, identification, and response.


In the future, these capabilities may be further enhanced via a 5G network that provides data throughputs in the Gbps, thus allowing for additional features/functionalities that demands

even higher throughputs than that’s available today.




Daily situational awareness is one of the critical capabilities that a Garrison Commander needs in order to know the operational health, security, and resource status of the garrison. Thus, incident alerting, reporting and notification throughout the day is paramount for the Garrison Commander. This includes alarm status, alarm metrics, and resource operational status (e.g., water flow, energy consumption, etc.).


To facilitate this functionality, an integrated intelligence and visualization platform designed specifically for improved situational awareness on an Army Garrison is necessary. Each smart solution independently provides input to this platform where it is intelligently integrated using an event trigger model: events of interest, detected by one smart solution, trigger responses by another smart solution, etc. All alarms and operations status may be displayed on a high-level Dashboard at the Command Post or via an application on the Smart Phone or Tablet of the Garrison Commander. Additional detailed information of each alarm/status is easily accessible by clicking/tapping the specific alarm/status displayed, which opens a pop-up window with the alarm details.


The platform can incorporate high-level security metrics for base commanders, real-time event monitoring and tracking for Command Post, and intelligent communications and dispatch for base patrols. Thus, producing security efficiencies and strengthening anti-terrorism and force protection postures on Army Garrisons. Capabilities for Smart solutions may be further enhanced with mobile applications that complements specific scenarios to include incident responses from the Command Post to foot patrols.


An example of an event trigger is when a Smart Fence deployment detects a breached perimeter triggering the Smart Video Surveillance solution to activate a live feed of the breached zone and records the event. On the Commanders tablet and at Command Post, an alert will be displayed on the dashboard providing high level information of the event such as “Alert – Perimeter Intrusion Detected” alongside a total alert count incremented by one.


When the Commander taps on the alert, the mobile app shows the location of the intrusion (e.g., Zone 3A) and displays a live video feed of the event. If desired, the Commander may tap on the option to display video feed from few seconds just prior to the event trigger to view what occurred just before the intrusion.




To measure the impact of using smart technologies, a garrison commander should be able to rely on metrics that identify cost savings and operational efficiencies. These metrics would be applied against pre-determined savings targets that are important for the garrison commander to report. Several example metrics that may be utilized at a Garrison are:

  • Energy Consumption – measures the percentage and amount of energy savings gained by using smart technologies such as digital infrastructure and building management. Metrics can compare daily, monthly, or annual usage over a period.
  • Water Leakage – measures the quantity of water leakage incidents and the number of gallons saved by using Smart Leak Detection. Metrics can also compare against leaks that occurred in a previous period.
  • False alarm reduction – measures the speed and number of false alarms identified using Smart technologies deployed throughout the garrison (e.g., Smart Fencing, gunshot detection, Smart Surveillance, etc.) compared against previous incidents.
  • Incident response Man hours – measures the man hours needed to detect, identify, and respond to an incident by using smart technologies (e.g., videos, gunshot detection, IR fencing, etc.) versus last month and/or previous year.

End Note


1 Amazon and Alexa are trademarks of Amazon.


Categories: Mad Scientist

About the Author(s)

AT&T Global Public Sector provides advanced information and communications technologies to government and education customers across federal, state, local and international markets. No company is more invested in America’s future than AT&T.  We’re investing billions into the economy, providing quality jobs to over 200,000 people in the U.S. alone. AT&T supports the veterans who make our country stronger and provide disaster relief support to those who need it the most.  By bringing together solutions that help protect, serve and connect – committed AT&T professionals are working with the public sector to transform the business of government. The AT&T authors of this article are Roger Wong, Usha Mohan, Michael Canty, Tina Chester, Richard Chung and Terry White.