The Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise (CWIX) 2020 concluded on 25 June 2020 after tests of about 160 capabilities.
The NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency worked hand in hand with Allied Command Transformation and the Joint Force Training Centre to plan the event, and provided subject matter experts to conduct capability testing.
"If there is one thing the COVID-19 crisis has shown the world, it is that we cannot slow in our efforts to integrate the latest technology into our organizations," said NCI Agency Chief of Staff, Major General Göksel Sevindik. "CWIX has been, and was again this year, an important opportunity for us to put NATO technology to the test to ensure a resilient, effective Alliance. Testing went very well, despite the difficult circumstances."
One of the capabilities tested was more relevant than ever before given the ongoing pandemic. The NATO Medical Communication and Information Capability, which is in the prototype phase, includes a suite of 14 software applications, supporting operations from the planning phase up to the lessons-learned phase. The capability is intended to be used in NATO military operations, but also during peacetime.
Syndromic surveillance is one of these applications. Syndromic surveillance within NATO allows the Alliance to become aware as early as possible of the emergence of a disease outbreak that requires public health action. This is achieved by monitoring the incidence of patients with the same combination of symptoms and signs.
Allied Command Transformation funded the NCI Agency to develop the prototypes for this capability. NCI Agency experts tested the different prototypes during CWIX to promote interoperability.
"Interoperability is critical, as many of the applications require interaction with national capabilities in order to function," said NCI Agency Senior Scientist Daniel Noppen, Capability Lead for NATO's Medical Communication and Information Capability. "For example, in the case of syndromic surveillance, the signs and symptoms data may come out of a national capability to then feed the NATO capability, which does the subsequent analysis."
During this year's CWIX, participants experimented with new formats for sending messages, including the format for sending syndromic data. It is important that everyone sending data to NATO sends it in a standardized way so that it can be processed more easily.
"We are happy with this new message format and nations are able to use it," Noppen said. "The real key takeaway, though, is that the need for a NATO health surveillance capability has been confirmed once again."
Other NATO entities also play important roles in the capability as subject matter experts, senior users or standardisation bodies.
This year, several Nations also experimented with exchanging electronic health records with one another. The aim is to eventually exchange medical data from the point of injury all the way up to more specialized treatment in a "Role 4" medical facility (usually outside where an operation is taking place), using standardized messages in a secure manner.
Ultimately, the goal of the exercise is to ensure that Allied commanders can respond quickly and effectively to different medical scenarios.