Embedding Wireless Sensor Networking (WSN) in Tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, & Reconnaissance (T-ISR)

Course length:

3 Days



Course dates

Interested in attending? Have a suggestion about running this course near you?
Register your interest now

Want to run this event on-site? Enquire about running this event in-house


Current events have demonstrated need for high-fidelity, persistent monitoring of areas and/orstructures to deliver reliable and timely ISR data to decision-makers. The confluence of technologies over recent decades have significantly enhanced the autonomous capability of low-cost, low-power wireless sensor network (WSN) nodes, which has resulted with robust tactical ISR designs and implementations. Advances within fields of low-power, low-cost (LPLC) packetized messaging transceivers, microelectromechanical (MEMS) sensors, VLSI microcontrollers, along with middleware/neural net (AI) based algorithm development and miniaturized power sources, have casted WSN as a keystone for tactical ISR systems. ISR span across numerous complex systems, from advanced satellite systems (Kestrel Eye, NRO programs) to complicated aerial platforms (e.g., E3 Sentry, E2 Hawkeye, Global Hawk).

These topics are well addressed by numerous books and courses. However, with tactical ISR, ad hoc deployment and operation of WSN sensor nodes imbues critical characteristics to sensor system designs resulting with sensor-to-user complexity decreasing simultaneous with data resolution increasing (in both space & time). This course is based on the text, Designing Wireless Sensor Solutions for Tactical ISR [Artech House publishing] which correlates to T-ISR design issues and system solutions associated to Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. The course provides insight to defining ISR mission objectives and requirements alongside case examples. Material provided enables participants to conduct key performance evaluation and to assess implementation details. Sensor modalities are discussed in-detail. Sensors, (optical/passive & active, RF/UWB, acoustic, magnetic, seismic) are presented with development of characteristic performance equations. Signal processing, sampling, and analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) approaches are presented and compared. Wireless networking design is reviewed from the perspective of physical (PHY) and media access control (MAC) perspectives. Network formation and maintenance (e.g., self-healing) is described and includes discussion of Jain Fairness Index and routing algorithms (DSDV, OLSR, WRP, CCS/LCC protocols). Applicability and comparison to MANET-based systems is provided. Attributes associated with real-time operating systems (RTOS), WSN middleware applications and neural-net supported services, and overarching net management system control (NMS) are presented. The problem of localization of sensor nodes is described, along with insight to WSN communication security schemes. Approaches to power management to enable persistent tactical ISR operations, are described and implementations presented. Adaptation to various platforms commensurate with the tactical aspects (e.g., UAV, UGV, drone swarms) are discussed.

Who Should Attend:

This course is of significant value to those working tactical ISR, WSN systems, Internet of (Battle) Things (IoT, IoBT), ad hoc sensing nets, remote sensing, and solving tactical ISR (T-ISR) mission requirements. Experience and technical backgrounds best suited include: engineers, neural net computer & physical scientists, and system decision-makers working with ISR system solutions.

What You Will Learn:

  • Thorough exposure to tactical ISR missions objectives and system functionality
  • Working knowledge to perform top level evaluation of sensor modalities.
  • Understanding of core detection and false alarm target/noise characteristics.
  • Mathematical equation derivation that are used in establishing sensor performance.
  • Packetized network protocols for LPLC mesh networks.
  • Onboard data aggregation, routing, processing to maintain data volume viability.
  • Understanding challenges of wireless data communication, through equations development, application, and case studies; including signal propagation.
  • ISR data production and dissemination characteristics.
  • Approaches to system V&V as well as integration approaches regarding legacy systems.
  • An understanding of the various ad hoc network protocols (WSN and MANET).
  • Geospatial localization issues and associated solutions.
  • Middleware-based function enacting data selection, processing, compression and application of deep learning schema.
  • System deployment schemes, applicable to T-ISR scenarios.
  • Case studies of WSN embedded into T-ISR missions – and synopsis of the evolving use of WSN with aerial, ground, maritime unmanned platforms.

Course Outline:

1)      Overview of ISR – ISR sensor systems and issues experienced, and emergence of WSN as a viable solution.

 2)      Tactical ISR (T-ISR) – definitions, mission objectives, operational considerations and top-level requirements.

 3)      T-ISR System – functions and design implementations presented.

 4)      WSN and node (mote) hardware – subsystem descriptions and performance equations associated with: appropriate microcontrollers, mote sensor signal processing and sampling, ADCs, and available ISM RF bands. WSN resource constraints are identified and presented.

 5)      WSN software – RTOS overview, mote middleware applications

 6)      WSN applicability– to T-ISR missions, as WSN-only or as part of a tiered sensor system.

 7)      Ad hoc networking technology – overview and application to WSN and MANET-based systems

 8)      Key performance parameters (KPPs) – definition and derivation approach to determining KPPs for T-ISR systems based on WSN technologies.

 9)      WSN RF Communications – overview of packet-switched networking and WSN-specific RF communication issues and design considerations.

 10)  Communication architecture– overview of worldwide sensor networks (e.g., DoDIN)

 11)  Exfiltration relays – description of wireless linkage interface between WSN mote field and external operation centers (MoC).

 12)  Sensor node localization – localization techniques beyond employing GPS solutions (and GPS solutions).

 13)  Power management – approaches to meeting persistent sensing requirements.

 14)  Passive optical sensor modality – design considerations and equations associated with passive optical sensor design, including infrared (IR) and visible (VIS), including use of MTF, sub-pixel sampling, dither focal planes

 15)  Active optical sensor modality – design considerations and equations associated with active (laser radar) optical sensor design, including direct detection and continuous (coherent) systems and dealing with issues as speckle and glint.

 16)  Ultra Wideband (UWB) overview – UWB designs and hardware for WSN-based ISR systems.

 17)  Seismic/Acoustic sensor modality – seismic and acoustic sensor design and realization, including example implementations, that operate within the restrictions of a WSN sensor node.

 18)  Magnetometer sensing modality – design considerations and equations associated with use of low-cost magnetometers (chipsets).

 19)  Aligning WSN capability to SIGINT objectives – adopting a WSN approach to gaining access to ambient signal environment for use as a SIGINT capability.

 20)  T-ISR system deployment approaches – designs for the dispersion of WSN nodes in setting up and deploying a T-ISR system.

 21)  System-level testing and operations – approaches to providing operation evaluation for deployed WSN-based T-ISR systems.

 22)  Case studies – DARPA NEST & ANSCD programs, DHS CBP (Customs & Border Patrol) border monitoring, HVT TTL (tagging, tracking, & locating) with Laser Hydrometry.


Timothy D. Cole is a leading authority on active and passive sensor systems with 40 years of experience during which he successfully designed, developed, and deployed sensing systems used for military, space-based, and biomedical applications. At Teledyne-Brown, Mr. Cole developed sensor systems to perform exoatmospheric target tracking and identification using long-wave infrared (LWIR) and laser radar. While at The Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory, Mr. Cole worked successfully designed & delivered the ground control & processing facility for Navy’s GEOSAT-1 Ku-band altimeter and was the designer/developer of NASA’s Near-Earth Rendezvous laser radar (NLR). He was the original lead engineer for New Horizons long-range reconnaissance imager (LORRI) and co-developer of a multi-meridian photorefractor with Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. At Northrop Grumman, Mr. Cole initiated, developed, and delivered WSN-based sensors: micro-laser mote (MLRmote), and passive infrared mote (PIRmote). He integrated sensor web enablement (SWE) standards (Open Geospatial Consortium) to WSN nodes and unattended ground sensors (UGS). He designed and conducted demonstrations using WSN mote fields, UGS, and laser radars to solve issues associated with border monitoring, secure facility protection, and high-value target (HVT) TTL. Recently, as the NASA/GSFC calibration science lead, Mr. Cole delivered the photon-counting laser altimeter to NASA’s ICESat-2 mission (launched Sept 2018).  Mr. Cole was twice awarded the NASA Achievement Award, and while at Northrop Grumman, was a Technical Fellow.


REGISTRATION: There is no obligation or payment required to enter the Registration for an actively scheduled course. We understand that you may need approvals but please register as early as possible or contact us so we know of your interest in this course offering.

SCHEDULING: If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or ati@aticourses.com. Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead-time. To express your interest in an open enrollment course not on our current schedule, please email us at ati@aticourses.com.

For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at ati@aticourses.com.