© 2017 by Dr. Nir Tenenbaum, www.Wildeas.org

The Advanced Conservation and Protection Unit

The ACPU

The ACPU is a concept.

The typical humanitarian or conservation scenario involves a large landmass with difficult terrain visibility and mobility, versus natural events, disasters and small, flexible and area-savvy adversaries capable of striking, undetected, on a daily basis. 

Despite good training and basic tools, the use of quality technological solutions is lacking, rendering rangers incapable of performing proactively, "Owning the night" and receiving early warnings before damage is done.  The frustrating daily reality is propagated further by the lack of coherent strategies and repeated failed attempts at technology with no thorough plan or process, as companies attempt to sell their products as perfect solutions.

 

This is the atmosphere to which the ACPU is introduced. 

Primarily a concept and not a prepackaged, marketed solution – a modular mobile ranger unit with high-end sensors, aimed at overcoming specific barriers, providing rangers with extended range and proactive effectiveness.

The ACPU does not use a specific system but is rather redesigned for each site's specific needs. It is not meant to replace a ranger unit but to empower and extend the coverage and operational possibilities available to existing units to cover an area even 1000 times larger than is currently possible.  The concept consists of high-performance, state of the art ground and aerial elements integrated into one unit and in time, connected to a central command, assuring the best and cost-effective solution to the detection, surveillance, management and response functionalities in the conservation and anti-poaching efforts.  Case studies of parallel security challenges have found that a concentrated effort involving all stakeholders, reinforced with the proper integrated technology and resources can level a serious blow to criminal and terrorist activity.

 

Concept of operation

The objective of the ACPU is to provide an active and effective early detection system for any illegal activity, presenting rangers with a tool that empowers them directly, can be operated locally and extends their actual coverage, while simultaneously  benefiting local managers and the entire operational structure of the conservation or humanitarian effort, on both a – local and international level.

 

As the ACPU is an open concept, it is first and foremost based on highly mobile field vehicles, integrating several sensors to provide a local, long-term and active mobile solution, gathering data and providing early warnings. The ACPU's content may change between sites, with time and according to local needs, enabling tailored solutions for operational areas that are identified as hotspots, providing sufficient infrastructure and technological basis for effective management, research and anti-poaching activities. 

 

Key capabilities/Values

  • Coverage – Enables a vehicle unit to extend its actual ground coverage.

  • Early detection – Enables rangers to detect and investigate illicit activities or intrusion prior to conflict or damage.

  • Adaptability/Modularity – The system can be designed and integrated per each site's specific needs, seasonal or others, while keeping its interface open for the introduction of new and/or different components.

  • Parallel abilities – Several sensors enable a team to survey the area's conditions and form the timeliest reaction, using the most incident-appropriate tool.

  • Mobility – Enables managers to plan and pursue efficient ISR activity according to current threats and needs, with the ability to cover much larger areas.

  • Overcoming nighttime and weather challenges – The system provides various tools that enable rangers to operate undetected at night, or under poor weather conditions, while maintaining operational agility.

  • Empowerment – Local ranger units are not replaced but rather empowered by several ACP units providing real-time data and increasing efficiency and proactive activities.

  • Complementary – The system provides information to and on all levels of conservation efforts, meeting management, protection, security and even research needs

  • Efficiency – Beyond extending unit coverage, the system enables continuous surveillance even beyond the normal line of sight, while coordinating multiple activities and having operations come full circle.

  • End to End – The system enables pre-mission planning, provides real time warning, while recording data for post-mission analysis and as evidence in any judiciary processes that may follow.

  • Simple interface– All systems integrated on the ACPU are selected for their user-friendly interface, and when possible, for their automatic warning and detection features.

  • Scalability – The modular design enables to increase coverage or reduce cost to meet budget constraints, while also enabling to easily replicate the production to as many sites as needed.

Preliminary optional modules

 

The modular objective of the ACPU is to be tailored for each site's specific requirements and the needs and goals of field personnel. The system aims to provide the teams with an active and effective early detection system, by incorporating several ISR tools, integrated into a single command and control system, while enabling connectivity to a central command and control station.

 

Below is a preliminary list of basic components and possibilities:

 

  • Base Vehicle – The ACPU vehicle can be an upgraded existing ranger vehicle or a new, specifically selected vehicle.  It will be equipped with whichever sensors can be mounted on it, which will be optimally suited for the site’s conditions.

  • Detection radar – Providing continuous coverage for the detection of human, vehicle and animal movements, day and night and in varying weather conditions. Coverage varies between systems (quality, cost, and weight), site conditions, etc.

  • Basic mast-mounted EO/IR payloads– A mast-mounted EO/IR payload can enable continuous surveillance on suspected targets – night and day.  Coverage varies according to payload weight, quality, sensors, mast height, etc.

  • Scanning EO/IR systems – A scanning EO/IR payload enables for the automatic scanning of areas and detects changes in the images, thus providing a static, long-term surveillance unit, while reacting only to suspected detections. Coverage varies according to payload weight, quality, sensors, mast height, etc.

  • Aerostat – An aerostat enables the lift of heavy sensors (usually EO/IR) to higher altitudes, significantly increasing coverage.  This system can remain stationary or be shuttled on site.   Coverage varies according to size, payload required weight, quality, logistics, etc.

  • UAS – Unmanned Aerial system:  A small unmanned aerial system can be placed in the vehicle and launched or operated when conditions require it. The systems in this category vary greatly and range from an immediate response UAS for close range and short endurance, to larger ISR platforms.

  • Ranger location transmitter – The system can monitors the location of all ranger units and patrol routes, enabling a better coordinated effort, especially at the managerial level.

  • Communication/Relay systems – A communication system enables the communication of  information from other instrument in the field, such as manned aircraft, relaying all types of information/image (LOS and satellite) to ranger units or back to the command station.

  • Command and control hub – The ACPU systems should be integrated to a single/double operator bay from which all systems are controlled  and on which all the information is displayed.

  • Other sensors – The ACPU's open design can incorporate other sensors as needed, for example – gunshot detection sensors, mobile “Chem” kits, SMART, handheld IR binoculars, etc.

 

Central Command and Control

The ACPU is designed to be a component in a comprehensive strategy, performing conservation, protection and research missions.  The long-term implementation process for such systems requires a central command and control station, usually deployed in later stages and planned to centrally collect data from local operations and systems, enabling an improved management and protection tool for local staff.  Furthermore, a collection of several local C&C stations can eventually be connected to an operational management system on a national level.