Automated Systems Design Concept


At present, IRCOS has developed and supplied to the Customers automated spectrum monitoring systems (ASMS) for various purposes and configuration intended for use by both civil and law enforcement structures. All systems are based on the single hardware and software platform consisting of technical means of radio monitoring and applied software. At the same time, the composition, configuration, functions of certain automated system are determined by the targets and tasks faced by the user of this system.

By definition (GOST 34.003-90), the automated system consists of personnel and a set of automation facilities, which implements the information technology ensuring execution of the defined functions. As applied to the automated system of radio monitoring, the automation means always include technical means of radio monitoring, software, and engineering and technical infrastructure.


Automation aids of the radio monitoring system

Automation aids of the radio monitoring system

Radio technical means manufactured by the company including single channel and multiple channel digital radio receivers, radio direction finders, and also receiving and measuring antenna systems, rotary supports act as the primary technical means of radio monitoring. All technical means of radio monitoring have an unified design, the radio receivers are based on ARGAMAK digital radio receiver system and have a wide simultaneous bandwidth, high performance, adequate dynamic range.

The supplied software consists of customized software SMO-ARMADA being the core of software of the automated system, client software packages SMO-PPK, SMO-BS, SMO-DX, etc. SMO-ARMADA has an open client-server architecture and commonly uses web-technologies capable of flexible adjustment to the scale, features of organization and functions, which the system must ensure, allows operation of the technical means of radio monitoring in multi-task scheduled, on-line, and background operation modes.

Technical and engineering infrastructure consists of data transsmission systems, server equipment, engineering installations, e.g. RME rooms, dedicated mast and antenna platforms, etc.

In view of the uniformity of the hardware and software platform all automated systems supplied by the company have common structure and functioning principles, the most essential of which are:

  • Hierarchy and flexible control of technical means
  • Scalability
  • Utilization of geo-information technologies
  • Open unified protocol to control the technical means
  • Interfacing with external information systems
  • Execution of radio monitoring tasks in the automatic (scheduled, background) and manual (on-line) modes
  • Event mechanism of executing missions, diagnostics and self-diagnostics of equipment.

Let us consider the contents of these principles in some more details.

The automated system always follows hierarchical principle, according to which every lower node of the system works under control of the higher level node. The nodes are control centers and stations, radio monitoring stations, individual technical means of radio monitoring having control servers with uniform software.


Tree-level structure of Automated System

Tree-level structure of Automated System

Control center is the basic hierarchy level, while control stations are at the second level. Control stations provide for the same functions as Control Center but act on subordinate levels of hierarchy. Example: for the national level system, the CC will manage the system operation via regionally-distributed control stations. The lower level of the hierarchy is presented by the technical means of radio monitoring: fixed, mobile, transportable, manpack stations, systems, and systems. The number of technical means and control levels in the system is determined by the use scale. The systems can be built with four and more control levels.

The control server located at the high level node receives information from the subordinate severs of a lower level, and also has on-line access to the radio monitoring equipment at the bottom level. Setting tasks to the node for execution is done both from the higher levels and immediately from the lower level, which allows quick reaction to local conditions. The control server at the lower level of hierarchy can control one or several instances of the technical means of radio monitoring.


Interaction of the control servers in a three-level system

Interaction of the control servers in a three-level system

Hardware control and data communication between the nodes is through the communication channels using encryption. The simplest version uses the protection network technology OpenVPN, and this ensures automatic switching between the main, backup, and emergency communication channels. Normally, wire or fiber channel is the main channel for a fixed means, whereas wireless channel may be used as backup or emergency channel. Mobile and manpack means are controlled via wireless channels.


Control versions of the technical means of the system

Control versions of the technical means of the system

Users of the system use for their work automated workstations (AWS) acting like "thin" clients, and there is a possibility of flexible control of nodes and equipment. Several versions of such flexible control of technical means are shown on the figure provided above:

  1. Missions are sent from the control center to three direction finders, included in the fixed stations: two direction finders at the served stations, where there are operators, and one direction finder at an unattended station, where there are no operators.
  2. Operators that are at the stations solve the radio monitoring tasks using the equipment located immediately in their stations.
  3. The operator sets a direction finding task to three fixed stations from the remote AWS, which can be located, for instance, even in another city, .
  4. The operator of mobile station operates the portable station equipment remotely.

Ability to control certain equipment, generating scheduled or on-line tasks for a certain operator working from the AWS is determined by the administration and security policy. There is a mechanism for flexible setting of rights and priorities for users to access the technical means of radio monitoring and data stored the databases of control servers. If the operator has the necessary permissions from any local or remote AWS, he can control any chosen equipment in the system.

The automated system is scalable, it can work with new nodes or level adding. Number of levels and nodes is determined by the specifics of application. If the scalability of the system is limited by a separate area or region, there may also be no control stations in the system. In this case, it is enough to have a control center, which sets tasks and receives results immediately from the radio monitoring stations, i.e. the system has a two-level structure. The system can also have a single level – this is the case for a stand-alone piece of equipment, e.g. a direction finder or a measuring receiver. Then the computer connected to the equipment may have both server and client part of the system software installed.

The automated system is based geo-information technologies, because for effective solution of radio monitoring tasks it is necessary to have the idea of mutual position of the technical means and radio monitoring objects, as well as the terrain nature. The mapping subsystem supports various formats of the vector maps, including GIS Panorama, INGIT, MapInfo, and also the maps of the Internet resource OpenStreet Map. Besides, multi-format bitmap graphic images can be used as electronic maps.


Software Package Window

Software Package Window

The above picture shows a fragment of SMO-ARMADA client interface with an electronic map of the location. The map shows the radio-frequency source direction finding process executed by five fixed direction finders.

The electronic map displays the radio frequency sources selected from the data base, shows fixed, mobile and portable technical means of radio monitoring, and also other system nodes, including control stations and a control center. Motion tracks are shown for mobile means. See a track example below.


Example of mobile station track display

Example of mobile station track display

In case of a radio monitoring event or a technical event, the node where the event happened is pointed on the electronic map. The event mechanism of the system operation will be considered below in some more detail.

Open unified protocol is used in the automated system for control of the technical means. It was developed to allow using in systems not only IRCOS's technical means, but also the means by other hardware manufacturers. The protocol is used to control all types of the radio monitoring hardware: fixed, mobile, transportable and manpack means ensuring communication of measurement results and service information. For third-party hardware to operate in the system, a special hardware driver interacts with the protocol on the side of the technical means. Its task is conversion of unified commands of the protocol into a succession of commands perceived by a certain piece of the equipment. The protocol allows wide adding additional commands without changing the existing operations and software modules that process such operations. This means that if you need to take advantage of any useful properties of the equipment, then additional structures are added to the protocol, which are ignored by the drivers of the "old" hardware that is already in the system.

The automated system provides for a possibility of integration with external information systems. The exchange takes place on the basis of XML-documents using web-services, HTTP or SOAP. FTP protocol also may be used. The illustration below is an example of information exchange with an external system for control of radio-frequency spectrum usage.


The interaction between ASMS and the spectrum management system

The interaction between ASMS and the spectrum management system

The automated system implements multi-task scheduled and the on-line equipment operation modes and some of these are listed below:

  • Signal parameter monitoring
  • Measurement of emission parameters
  • Comparison of declared and measured characteristics of radio emission source
  • Search for interference sources and unauthorized emissions
  • Localization of RES outdoor and indoor
  • Measurement of the radio frequency spectrum occupancy
  • Technical monitoring of analogue and digital radio broadcasting and television, and cellular and wireless telecommunication systems as well.

In the scheduled mode, the technical means of the systems that are at the nodes function automatically following the missions scheduled beforehand. Setting missions is possible from any AWS of the system, and the succession of their execution is determined by the priorities of the operators that have set the mission. The execution results are saved in the database of the control server of the node that executed it and sent to the database of the node that set it. In case the channels of communication with the superior node fails, the execution of the scheduled mission still continues. Its execution is controlled by the local server located at the node. Once the connection is restored, the results are sent to the node that set the mission, and to the higher level if the settings are relevant.

The scheduled mode allow control of a big fleet of diverse technical means by an operator from a single AWS. Automatic execution of tasks allows the fullest utilization of the radio monitoring equipment, including execution of background tasks of radio monitoring – scheduled low priority tasks, for example, evaluation of electromagnetic environment, search for new emissions, checking conformity of radio emission with norms and licenses, measurement of radio frequency occupancy, etc.

The on-line radio monitoring is intended for immediate interactive control of one or several similar type technical means from one AWS. This enables to solve nonstandard, often rather complicated radio monitoring tasks requiring immediate execution. Access to the node equipment is granted in accordance with the priorities the operators have been assigned. Operation results can be saved on-line at any moment in the DB of the management server of the node, from which technical means are controlled, and sent to the higher node.

For effective use of the radio monitoring technical means, enhanced operators' performance, automatic finding of faults in using the radio frequency resource or appearance of authorized radio emission sources, the ASMS uses an event mechanism for radio monitoring and monitoring of the system state. The event mechanism allows automating the solution of radio monitoring tasks in a 24/7 mode drawing the operator's attention only in case there is a result of the event mechanism operation – appearance of an event. In most cases only decision making functions are allotted to the operator, including functions of response to emerged events. This allows using a risk-focused approach both to solving radio monitoring tasks, and ensuring the ASMS function. The event mechanism is used for control of the equipment and system infrastructure state. Events are generated as faults happen, communication channel or power supply is lost, security alarm operates, etc.

Events generated in the system fall into two types: radio monitoring events and technical events. Radio monitoring events are formed during execution of the scheduled radio monitoring tasks, in which the current measured parameters of the observed radio emission are compared to previously formalized "mask" signs of the standard state of the objects. Levels and shapes of signals, norms and licenses for modulation parameters (including spectrum width and the central frequency), radio emission source identifiers (e.g., identifiers of legitimate telecommunication base stations), coordinates of the radio emission source and so on act as such signs. The events are formed in case radio emission goes beyond the limits of set "masks".

Technical events are formed in case of a non-standard change of the state of the technical means of radio monitoring or engineering and technical infrastructure, actuation of alarm sensors in the system nodes, switching between the main and the backup communication channel, switching to the backup power source, end of the verification of measuring equipment, etc. All technical means of radio monitoring, and also components of the network infrastructure and management servers have an integrated system for diagnostics of state and operation parameters of modules and units. Information about state of hardware is transmitted on the basis of the SNMP protocol. In case of faults, corresponding technical events are generated.

Event records are stored in the DB of the system units where these have originated and, according to the settings made, are transmitted to the set superior nodes for decision-making. Apart from the displaying on the screen and showing the list of events in the software application interface, the event information is displayed on the electronic map or plan of the monitored object, automatically sent by e-mail, and by an SMS.

At present, the best known systems supplied by the company are ARMADA and AREAL automated radio monitoring systems. It is also worth noting here the Universiade 2013 ASMMS – automated system supplied by IRCOS, which ensured automated management of the radio frequency range use during the large international sports event – XXVII World Summer Universiade.

ARMADA automated system is used for radio monitoring in field, also for detection, direction finding, localization and identification of radio emission sources, measurement of technical parameters of emissions, their comparison with norms and licenses. The system provides information about actual usage of frequencies, performs technical analysis of new types of radio signals. AREAL automated system is used for detection of technical channels of information leakage, search and technical analysis of unauthorized radio emissions, localization of their sources in secured territories and indoors.


Double layer structure of AREAL system

Double layer structure of AREAL system

ARMADA ASMS intended for use at the national level has normally three or four management levels. The standard structure of AREAL automated system is the two-level diagram, in which the system nodes, where each one serves its own object or adjacent territory, are controlled from the single control station.

Apart from the generic properties inherent with all systems made by IRCOS, ARMADA and AREAL systems have certain differences driven by their application conditions:

  • ARMADA ASMS is intended for field operation and its operation zone covers a considerable area, coverage of the whole country's territory is possible. AREAL ASMS is intended for operation within limited territories and inside objects.
  • ARMADA ASMS performs detection, identification and localization of radio emission sources which have no license for use, as well as sources of intended and unintended intervention impeding the work of legal radio facilities. The main functions of AREAL ASMS are, first of all, detection, identification and localization of unauthorized radio emission sources.
  • ASR ARMADA, if used by a radio frequency service (National regulatory agency), measures radio signal parameters, localizes radio emission sources and checks the sources for valid license and norms. ASR AREAL is not intended for such applications.

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