By Paolo Valpolini
Ensuring the security of a nation is becoming more and more complex as new threats emerge, not only from state actors but also from non-state ones, which requires increased command and control capabilities encompassing not only multi-domain in the classic sense, land, sea, air, space and cyber, but also elements such as disinformation campaigns, social media, terrorism, etc.
At the World Defense Show in Riyadh a huge structure hosted an immersive and multisensory auditorium where visitors could get the feeling of what the activities in a command centre might look like.
A series of giant screens allowed the audience to monitor ongoing events in all domains, some areas being dedicated to the video feeds received straight from the scene.
A series of events ranging from air traffic control alerts, to maritime automatic identification system alerts due to a vessel with suspect behaviour, up to higher level crisis such as CBRN incidents, were played every hour in a 40-minute event in which numerous controllers sitting at their stations could monitor and lead the response by quick reaction units, a tabletop situation display hosting the briefing to the joint commander by the directors of each area.
Cyber attacks cut for some moments video and data link with the field, to add realism, data fusion being running constantly to provide decision makers with the most appropriate solutions, generated by artificial intelligence algorithms, to be potentially enforced against the current threat.
Beside full military operations, the so-called sub-threshold battlefield, also defined as grey zone, is becoming more and more important, such full control on events becoming a must for states that aim avoiding major damages caused by malicious actors who tend to find weak points within the various domains, to be exploited for their attacks.
Definitely a novel approach to demonstrate how new technologies, provided by leading defence industries and organisations, can help in opposing today and tomorrow threats.
The C5ISR centre was the result of the cooperation between the Saudi National Cybersecurity Authority, the Saudi Information Technology Company, Boeing, Navantia and BAE Systems.
A feeling of the command centre in the pictures hereafter (click on images to enlarge):
Photos by P. Valpolini