Information, or ‘content’, on the World Wide Web is replicated and distributed across the world to ensure high availability to the end-user. User expectations for rapid access to content have led to the creation of content distribution systems that enhance the user experience. Consequently, users may quickly access content used for everyday living, from restaurant menus and maps, to local and world news.
Likewise, within the military domain, content is essential to operations. Modern warfare, as epitomized by our current ground operations, is conducted by small units at the tactical edge, and up-to-date information is critical to mission success. Battlefield content is generated and resident in many locations. For example, information can be generated at the edge, such as images of local leaders or prominent landmarks, social network information, or biometrics of suspects. Other information, such as maps or overhead imagery, is generated at higher echelons.
Currently, warfighters at the edge must reach back to facilities at higher echelon levels to obtain battlefield content and lack the capability to directly share information with other warfighters or neighboring units. This access requirement is not optimized for efficiency or speed.
Different constraints and different network architectures between commercial and military content distribution require different solutions. The commercial sector exploits an expensive, slowly changing computing and communications infrastructure. In contrast, the military uses a dynamic computing and communications infrastructure largely due to its mobility requirements. Content is often transported via wireless networks (i.e. Mobile Ad Hoc Networks – MANETs) that exhibit rapidly changing link capacity and network topologies, which complicates the process of content distribution.
The flexibility the military architecture introduces, along with a high degree of content correlation for warfighters within a geographic area, enables a unique opportunity for a new approach to content distribution that largely eliminates the need for designated, specialized servers.
The Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN) program seeks to develop the network services and transport architectures to enable efficient, transparent distribution of content in mobile ad hoc network environments. It is envisioned that battlefield applications will use these CBMEN network services to efficiently distribute content. The goal of the CBMEN program is to reduce latency and increase the effective throughput of content for warfighters at the tactical edge.
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