NAVWAR Trident Warrior Team assesses new tracking technology for COVID-19 mitigation

Sailors from Expeditionary Strike Group 3 (ESG-3) and USS Boxer (LHD-4) carry handheld devices past Bluetooth and RFID sensors at Naval Base San Diego (NBSD), as participants in one of the Fleet Experimentation initiatives of Trident Warrior 2020, July 21. This initiative evaluated a technology with potential application to Sailor health protection and deployment readiness, in support of Project Rolling Recovery and the Naval COVID Rapid Response Team (NCR2T). The Testbed for IoT-based Privacy-Preserving PERvasive Spaces (TIPPERS) is developed by Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC PACIFIC), and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Trident Warrior is the Navy's premier annual event for Information Warfare-focused experimentation, conducted by Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR), in close collaboration with Commander, Third Fleet (COMTHIRDFLT) and the Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC).

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - In support of the Navy’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Rapid Response Task Force, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) quickly executed the assessment of a wireless tracking technology in June 2020 that could help the Navy mitigate the spread of the virus, protecting the health and safety of Sailors and Marines and improving fleet readiness.

Developed by Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the wireless tracking technology known as Testbed for “Internet of Things” (IOT)-based Privacy Preserving PERvasive Spaces (TIPPERS) is a system that uses commercially-available wireless communications and tagging technologies to track the locations and other attributes of equipment, personnel and spaces.

TIPPERS is one of the initiatives being tested during Trident Warrior 2020 (TW20), an annual large-scale field experiment in operational naval environments, in which the Navy assesses potential technologies that address capability gaps and provide inventive solutions.

Due to the potential application of TIPPERS to COVID-19 mitigation, NAVWAR’s TW20 team worked to expand and accelerate the TIPPERS assessment. This required rapid and effective teaming with Expeditionary Strike Group 3 (ESG-3), Naval Facilities Command and Naval Base San Diego (NBSD).

"The Trident Warrior and TIPPERS teams immediately responded to COVID guidance from the Chief of Naval Operations,” said NAVWAR Project Rolling Recovery Director Dan Green. “Over a period of just three weeks, engaging with senior fleet, shore and systems commands, they designed, orchestrated and conducted experiments that produced encouraging results, with significant implications for COVID mitigation and fleet readiness during restricted movement periods.”

During this assessment of TIPPERS, 30 personnel from ESG-3 and USS Boxer served as participants, executing a series of scenarios as they moved between defined zones on a pier at NBSD. Each participant carried a smartphone with a radio frequency identification sticker, which was tracked by TIPPERS wireless sensors and beacons on the pier.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our team, we were able to execute the testing of this high-interest initiative quickly and efficiently,” said Trident Warrior Director Cmdr. Eric Kelso. “These rapid results are a testament to the dedicated professionals who make up the Trident Warrior team, the organizations that pulled together to make it possible, and the importance of our mission of accelerating the delivery of advanced capabilities to the fleet.”

The TIPPERS system demonstrated the ability to correlate and display tracking data in near-real-time, exhibiting its potential for use in COVID-19 quarantine zone verification, access restriction and verified “secure bubble” transfer. Further assessment has demonstrated its potential for additional uses, such as proximity detection and retroactive contact tracing.

Privacy protection and enforcement are fundamentally built in to the architecture of the TIPPERS system, allowing data to be anonymized, as well as displayed only to authorized personnel. Moving forward, TW20 will continue TIPPERS assessment aboard a ship, and conduct over two dozen other experimental initiatives between July-October 2020.

Connecticut Media Group