DARPA's Advanced RF Mapping (RadioMap) Program
project is underway by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
to provide a real-time map (RadioMap)
of where over-the-air broadcasts are occurring. The idea is to create
a Google Maps type graphical interface where a network of 'sensors'
that includes special purpose and otherwise deployed devices will report
to a central data collection point to provide situational awareness
for where and when (and by whom in some cases) specific frequencies
are being occupied. Proposals are being accepted for companies wanting
to contribute to the program, so this might be a great opportunity for
makers of software defined radios (SDR) to build functionality into
systems for accommodating such detection and reporting. If you are a
strategic planning outfit, this would be a good ground floor entry point
for participation in what will almost certainly be part of the (like
it or not) unstoppable rapid expansion of government surveillance.
The Advanced RF Mapping (RadioMap)
states thus regarding objectives. The entire document and amendments
can be read at the page linked above.
From the RadioMap website:
DARPA is soliciting innovative
research proposals in the area of Radio Frequency (RF) situational
awareness employing a heterogeneous sensor network, whose constituent
devices include RF receiver/transmitters deployed for other purposes
such as tactical radios, using an approach that facilitates extension
of the network to incorporate additional device types and to support
additional Electronic Warfare/Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
(EW/ISR) applications. Proposed research should investigate innovative
approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or
systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in
evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.
1.1 PROGRAM OVERVIEW
Three problems facing different user
communities motivate research in this area:
The vision of the Advanced RF Mapping program (RadioMap) is that these
problems can be solved if deployed RF devices support RF situational
awareness and other EW/ISR functions in addition to and without harm
to their primary mission. In particular, flexible and tunable devices
such as software-defined tactical radios can offer high benefits through
their ability to perform a range of scanning, monitoring, and transmission
functions. Employing existing RF devices will reduce the cost and delay
of deploying new networked EW/ISR functions while making EW/ISR functions
more widely available on the battlefield.
- Spectrum managers, and Dynamic Spectrum Access systems that
perform automatic spectrum management functions, lack real-time
awareness of spectrum usage variations across frequency, geography,
and time. This reduces the efficiency of spectrum allocation and
sharing, and thus reduces the total achieved mission benefit from
the RF spectrum.
- Small tactical units such as platoons or companies rarely have
EW/ISR capability. A system that provides RF situational awareness
and the ability to control the immediate RF environment as needed
will offer significant benefits for mission effectiveness and force
- EW and ISR coverage is limited in some operational contexts
by the high cost of current EW/ISR systems and platforms. An affordable
system that provides broad coverage to cue and support the more
focused high-capability EW/ISR systems would offer significant value.
The vision of the Advanced
RF Mapping program (RadioMap) is that these problems can be solved if
deployed RF devices support RF situational awareness and other EW/ISR
functions in addition to and without harm to their primary mission.
In particular, flexible and tunable devices such as software-defined
tactical radios can offer high benefits through their ability to perform
a range of scanning, monitoring, and transmission functions. Employing
existing RF devices will reduce the cost and delay of deploying new
networked EW/ISR functions while making EW/ISR functions more widely
available on the battlefield.
The primary goal of the present
funding opportunity is research on RF situational awareness oriented
towards addressing the problems of the three user communities described
above. However, it is desirable for the approach used to also facilitate
deployment of additional EW/ISR functions in the future. Therefore,
DARPA seeks solutions structured in a way that segregates the implementation
of RF situational awareness techniques from an underlying system that
leverages and coordinates the reception and transmission capability
of available RF devices.
DARPA seeks innovative technical
proposals in the following areas of interest:
Area One: RF Situational Awareness
For convenience, the
term “mapping” is used to refer to the desired RF situational awareness
capability. The goal of mapping is to determine how the RF spectrum
is being used. More specifically, mapping incorporates the following
A key challenge is to maximize the completeness, accuracy and mission
utility of the outputs given available mapping resources, and/or to
minimize resources needed to achieve specified goals. Techniques are
sought that combine user-specified collection priorities and other information
with current mapping results to improve analysis and optimize further
collection. Information of interest for use in this way includes models
of emitters and networks, maps of the urban environment and terrain,
propagation models and spectrum license databases.
- Observe transmissions
- Determine the type and characteristics of active devices and
- Estimate spectrum occupancy and usage throughout the area of
spectrum managers, the map should be output in a format that supports
automatic comparison to management databases, and that enables incorporation
of the data into an existing spectrum management system or Geographic
Information System (GIS). Analysis of usage changes over time should
be supported. Techniques are of interest that deliver a stream of updates
while the mapping system operates. Approaches are also sought that support
Dynamic Spectrum Access communication systems.
other two user communities, different outputs and control mechanisms
will be necessary. Research on those topics is anticipated to be supported
in a subsequent phase.
Technical Area Two: WALDO system
The underlying software system that leverages and coordinates the reception
and transmission capability of available RF devices, in support of applications
like RF mapping, is referred to as a WALDO system (Wireless And Large-scale
Distributed Operations). A WALDO system contains at least the following
Additional system characteristics of interest are the following:
- A component executing on each participating RF device that performs
reception, transmission and local processing tasks on behalf of
the applications. This component operates in a way that does not
require attention by the device’s user. The unit commander controlling
the device should be able to limit the impact on the primary mission
of the device and the resources used for WALDO tasks, and change
the limits remotely during a mission.
- A software component or system that sends tasks to RF devices
and collects their results on behalf of applications. It automatically
selects the devices and tasks used to carry out each job requested
by an application in a way that maximizes the probability of job
success while minimizing overall resource consumption.
Technical Area Three: Other Capabilities
- Any RF device should be able to perform tasks for any application
for which it has the necessary hardware capabilities, (1) without
specializing the device software for the application, (2) without
specializing the application implementation for the device, and
(3) without specializing any part of the WALDO system for either
the device or the application, except for porting the on-board software
component onto the RF device.
- The WALDO system should provide robust, secure and efficient
operation, supporting multiple simultaneous applications, scalable
to 1000 or more RF devices, including in situations where network
quality of service is low and information about the RF devices and
the environment is uncertain.
- The WALDO system should minimize application response latency
and its growth with increasing system size and utilization. Application
response latency is the delay from reception of a signal on one
device to the start of follow-on tasks potentially on different
devices, when application logic not running on the receiving device
requests the follow-on work based on information from the received
Another goal of
this program is for the WALDO system to facilitate deployment of other
capabilities in addition to RF situational awareness. While the above
text has described these as EW/ISR applications, the capabilities of
interest are not restricted to EW and ISR.
encouraged to consider the available RF receivers and transmitters as
a resource to be exploited, and develop concepts for innovative capabilities
of high military utility, either exploiting this resource standalone
or in combination with other existing or emerging resources. Capabilities
are sought that offer high utility justifying the cost per square kilometer
covered, with the appropriate utility and cost metrics to be defined
for the capability by the proposer. Cost metrics of potential interest
include device acquisition cost if dedicated devices are deployed, resources
consumed if shared devices are leveraged, operational cost if aerial
assets are employed, and communications resources consumed if the capability
Access the RadioMap website here.
Posted November 5, 2013