Thursday, March 14, 2024

From soda straws to 'constant stare'

Does your project have proprietary or other intellectual property that is, of necessity, our of doors?
Specialized antennas, telescopes, and other sensors?
Unique infrastructure or private facilities?
Proprietary ground or air or even space and underwater vehicles, or vehicle performance?
New, competitive installations?

In the past, you could keep the wraps on by simply hiding the location, or restricting access and observation from the ground.

There were a handful of earth-observing satellites, mostly run by governments, that had a 'soda-straw' look at any point on earth, and then often only for a short time. Revisit rates varied from a couple of hours to perhaps a geo-stationary stare until some other mission had to be satisfied.

With predictable orbits and observation parameters, the ground target could take countermeasures.

Then came drones, with long time-over-target durations, but nonetheless limited by fuel and other mission assignments. But drones are not altogether stealthy, as yet, and so there are countermeasures that can be employed by the target.

Constant stare: 
Now comes 'constant stare', the conception being 24x7 global real time observation of anywhere. Tried and true countermeasures go out the window.

To get to constant stare, perhaps thousands of satellites, about the size of a loaf of bread are to be deployed. And for the most part this capability is provided by civilian reconnaissance companies whose objective is to monetize this service.

A recent essay by David Zikusoka makes this observation:
"..... AI has enabled the teaming of humans and machines, with computer algorithms rapidly sifting through data and identifying relevant pieces of information for analysts. 

Private satellite-launching companies such as SpaceX and Rocket Lab have leveraged these technologies to build what are termed “megaconstellations,” in which hundreds of satellites work together to provide intelligence to the public, businesses, and nongovernmental organizations. These companies are updating open-source, planet-scale databases multiple times per day. Some of these companies can deliver fresh intelligence from nearly any point on the globe within 30 minutes of a request."

On the risk register
This stuff needs to get on the risk register.
So, first balloons, then the occasional overflight, more recently drones, and soon to come 'constant stare'. 

When constructing the risk register, and considering the time-sensitivity of proprietary project information, take into account that others may be observing, measuring, and analyzing right along side your project team.

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