The Australian Army and Microsoft are collaborating on a programme that will explore how digital technologies could transform command and control. The initial focus of the partnership will be to use artificial intelligence (AI) to transcribe and analyse voice over combat net radio.
The Command, Control, Communications Process Optimisation initiative aims to provide clear reports and searchable transcripts, giving commanders improved situational awareness. Automating transcription will also free personnel for other tasks.
A team, comprising of Microsoft system analysts, data scientists and data architects along with the army’s Robotic & Autonomous Systems Implementation & Coordination Office personnel from the Future Land Warfare Branch, is currently prototyping a new solution. The technology will transcribe communications, identify key message parameters such as the sender and recipient and extract meaning from the transcription. AI will be used to interpret communications for insights about the battle, with an end-user presentation layer through Power BI.
“Employing AI tools through a reliable, secure and resilient platform to consolidate battlefield communications is an important step toward the creation of a decision support engine to create decision advantage in the future,” said Brigadier Ian Langford, director general of the Future Land Warfare Branch. “Collaborative and innovative methods to achieve this accelerate the rate of adoption of cutting-edge technology to afford an army in motion an edge in the future.”
The prototype solution deploys Microsoft Azure cognitive services to support transcription and natural language processing, with significant customisation required to ingest, clean and filter audio signals. The prototype has been built in the Army Land Network Integration Centre (LNIC) Azure environment and is the first example of this platform being used in a collaboration with industry. Designing, testing and validation has been performed with HQ 3 Brigade as the ‘end user’ for the program.
“Microsoft and the Australian Army are both committed to the ethical and responsible use of AI, and this remains central to our collaboration,” said Mark Leigh, general manager of public sector for Microsoft ANZ. “We are proud to be working with the Australian Army on this important project, bringing the very best minds and technology together to support and keep safe the men and women of Australia who work tirelessly on our behalf.”
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