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(NSI). Are Networked and Net-Centric the Same?. Dr Terry Moon Head NCW S&T Initiative DSTO 30 March 2006. (NSI). Net-centric: a plethora of terms. NCW : Network Centric Warfare (US) NEC : Network Enabled Capability (UK) NBD : Network Based Defence (Sweden)

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Are networked and net centric the same


Are Networked and Net-Centric the Same?

Dr Terry Moon

Head NCW S&T Initiative


30 March 2006

Net centric a plethora of terms


Net-centric: a plethora of terms

  • NCW: Network Centric Warfare (US)

  • NEC: Network Enabled Capability (UK)

  • NBD: Network Based Defence (Sweden)

  • NCO: Net-Centric Operations (US and NATO)

    Wikipedia gives the following definition for net-centric (adj.):

  • Participating as a part of a continuously-evolving, complex community of people, devices, information and services interconnected by a communications network to achieve optimal benefit of resources and better synchronization of events and their consequences.

Simple human cognitive model for net centric operations





Simple Human Cognitive Model for Net-centric Operations

  • Used in computer science for modelling human problem solving (virtual humans).

  • Consistent with Cybernetic concepts – feedback loop.

  • Also called:

    • Action-Learning Cycle

    • Sense & Response Adaptive Loop

    • And, in military circles, an OODA loop or sensor to shooter chain.

Features of net centricity


Features of Net-Centricity

Four main features:

  • Reach:proportion of network that can be effectively used.

  • Richness:available means for gathering, processing and sharing information via the network.

  • Agility:number of effective adaptations that can be accomplished in a given time (response options).

  • Assurance:achieving prescribed levels of operational and systems performance within a specified context. (Includes information assurance.)

    But how do we evaluate these?

Properties of net centricity


Properties of Net-centricity

  • Keus (2005) introduces a simple concept for net-centricity:

    • All entities in a net-centric operation can be regarded as nodes interacting with each other through a communications network.

  • Similar to concepts introduced by Cares (2004) and McKenna et al. (2006).

  • Establishes terminology for node, network, net-force and node types and introduces a Net-Force Reference Model (NFRM).

  • Defines 6 types of nodes: collector, information provider, decider, effector, communicator, supporter.

  • 8 node properties identify the nature and behaviour of the nodes.

Comms layer

node interface

node spec.

Core of node

Networked net centric


Networked ≠ Net-centric?


Tracking ships and aircraft onboard USS Blue Ridge.


Filter Room: tracking aircraft.

Move from networked to net centric








Move from Networked to Net-centric

  • Storage, retrieval and distribution of information done by humans.

  • Operating (ISR) picture assembled and disseminated by humans.

  • Tasking and decision-making by humans alone.

  • Storage, retrieval and distribution of information done by ICT.

  • Operating (ISR) picture assembled and disseminated by ICT.

  • Tasking and decision-making augmented with ICT.

What has changed


What has Changed?

  • What was not available in 1940?

    • Computer networks

    • Supporting Information Technology

    • Widespread Digital Communications infrastructure.

  • The advent of modern information and communications technologies, and networks based on them, has thus made it possible to release humans from routine and repetitive (but necessary) tasks, undertake these tasks more rapidly and comprehensively and also improve planning, coordinating and decision-making.

  • These new technologies have thus provided a means to supplant, speed up or expand activities previously carried out by humans.

Evaluating net centric operations


Evaluating Net-centric Operations

  • Perhaps evaluating speed and span of Command & Control (C2) is central to evaluating net-ops?

  • Working Definitions:

    • Span of C2. The number of immediately subordinate elements that a Commander is responsible for properly employing to achieve the desired ends.’(de Czege 2001).

    • Speed of C2. The rate at which decisions are made and a course of action taken. (Moon, Kruzins & Calbert 2002).

  • Assessing the worth of information to military operations is problematic and some means of assessing the value of ‘operating pictures’ provided would also be useful.

Network science


Network Science?

Hindering the evaluation of net-ops is the lack of fundamental knowledge of the behaviour of complex networks. This is summed up by the US National Research Council’s committee on Network Science for Future Army Applications:

‘There is no science today that offers the fundamental knowledge necessary to design large complex networks in such a way that their behaviors can be predicted prior to building them.’

Social Networks

Information Networks

Communications Networks

Physical Networks

A role for experimentation


A Role for Experimentation?

  • At times experiment precedes theory giving us insight that assists with development of fundamental knowledge. Perhaps Network Science in general, and net-ops in particular, would benefit from well-structured and thorough experimentation?

In conclusion


In Conclusion

  • Net-ops exploit modern Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), namely:

    • Computer networks.

    • Supporting Information Technology.

    • Widespread Digital Communications networks.

  • Net-centric ≠ Networked.

  • Evaluating increases in span and speed of C2 may be central to evaluating the military worth of net-ops?

  • A fundamental ‘Network Science’ is needed.

  • Well-structured, thorough experimentation may be needed to assist the development of Network Science in general and military net-ops in particular.