Tactical Video Link Plugin for Blueforce Linux: Edge-based Streaming with Shared Awareness
Ask any soldier or first responder and they will tell you of the importance of shared tactical video for decision-making during edge operations. Drones can now be cued to launch in real-time for overwatch. Military working dogs routinely carry low light infrared imagers that enable off-leash shared awareness for what the dog sees even though he is 200 meters forward. Video is core to intelligence driven decision process. As humans, we trust our eyes and what we see. Location is good. Awareness of the surrounding is better. But, seeing is believing.
By definition, live on-scene video is mobile, which, in a response or direct action setting, yields fundamental issues compared to fixed video infrastructure in terms of operational flexibility, shared awareness, and availability. Discovering and leveraging real-time access in edge environments to the wide array of video sources has always been one of the “golden rings” for on-scene teams and commanders. Yet, until now, various tactical edge attributes have made this elusive:
- Peer Access: That K9 camera may allow remote wireless viewing, but when the third or fourth team member try to attach and consume, a self-induced denial of service issue arises because the encoder in the camera doesn’t have enough CPU, OR, bandwidth to the K9 is insufficient to support many video stream requests.
- Cloud Streaming Engines: While cloud based streaming engines and transcoders make scale a reality, backhaul to get to said engines may be denied and/or contested.
- Searching: Warfighters and responders have a primary mission which means “eyes on target”, not “eyes on glass”. Establishing ad-hoc streams at the edge has been a challenge, but enabling awareness of availability in high stress environments has been elusive.
Through our work with the Special Operations community here in the U.S., and as previously reported, Blueforce has ported our mobile (BlueforceTACTICAL) and autonomous (BlueforceEDGE) products to Linux ( to include Raspbian, Ubuntu, and CentOS). The port to Linux is enabling smaller compute form factors, but also delivers major improvements to the SWaP (space, weight, and power) equation. Of most importance is the ability to enable tactical edge data and application meshes that can distribute compute, but also deliver micro-services like video streaming and discovery services at the edge.
Blueforce is proud to announce BETA availability of our new Tactical Video Link Plugin for BlueforceEDGE Linux delivered as a Blueforce plugin and a purpose built container housing a scalable streaming engine. Together, the new plugin and container enable:
- Ad-hoc and authenticated source streams: The plugin detects stream pushes from drones, robotics, and unattended ground sensors. The plugin and engine also enable simplified creation of stream pulls in the field. All of this on the edge device and built on open standards with an ability to transcode to a variety of consumption formats to support interoperability in a multi-domain and/or multi-agency event.
- Discovery and Alerting: No more searching for stream availability. Team members are alerted when a new stream becomes available for use in a response or operation.
- Dynamic Prioritization: The Tactical Video Link Plugin exposes our new prioritization and orchestration interface allowing specific mission/incident profiles to increase or decrease the prioritization and awareness of sensor streams through an easy to use “QoS” attribute.
- Tactical Data Gateway: Awareness, alerting, and consumption logic is exposed through our new Tactical Data Gateway Plugin allowing third-party enduser device applications (EUD) on the same device to query and display live feeds as they become available.