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Commonwealth Games provides a golden opportunity for JSA to test spectrum monitoring

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This month, the Commonwealth Games, are taking place in Birmingham, UK. The event is widely known for its spectacular opening ceremony, including the Parade of Nations. This ceremony provided the opportunity for the Joint Spectrum Authority (JSA) spectrum monitoring team to put their fledgling capability into practice using fixed monitoring nodes.

The Joint Spectrum Authority

The JSA, who are part of Defence Digital within the MOD, facilitates the identification and removal of illegal or unlicensed interference signals. Spectrum monitoring enables problem signals to be identified as they occur in real-time.

When fully operational the JSA team will use networks of sensing nodes to understand the spectrum usage in an area. To effectively cover a particular operational area, the nodes in the network must be sited correctly. MoD estate locations were chosen to host the nodes for monitoring spectrum usage across the multiple Commonwealth Games venues. Following mapping and aerial surveys, five sites were selected for suitable mounting locations in the desired area.

Defence Digital - Embedding Digital across MOD

A monitoring node was installed at each site in good time for the start of the Games. Individual installation plans for each site made the task easier and quicker, and only one installation had to be abandoned. The other four sites were fully installed without any issues, creating a usable monitoring network that was up and running by the time the Opening Ceremony was underway.

The exercise was invaluable for providing a real-time environment to test spectrum monitoring. The team were able to come away with valuable lessons, including training priorities to improve the capability and overall safety of monitoring team activities. It also showed how Defence Digital worked across the MOD to embed digital in Defence.

Jim Nixon, Joint Spectrum Authority Chief Engineer, said, "The Commonwealth Games gave us an excellent opportunity to test our capabilities within the JSA. It brought home to us how Defence Digital is embedding Digital across MOD but also highlighted the crucial work we are doing to support and enable the role of Digital in Defence."

Mobile spectrum monitoring capability

The team is also in the early stages of developing a mobile spectrum monitoring capability, which could be used in future deployments. This will help to build a better picture of background spectrum use in the area or to provide better resolution in locations of interest identified by a fixed node network.

The monitoring nodes have proved their worth in detecting and resolving spectrum use issues, such as utilisation measurement, licencing enforcement and interference incident resolution. For example, the team swiftly resolved an interference issue during the Commonwealth Games for Ordnance Survey activity, caused by the presence of MoD assets, by using the fixed node network to identify the source of the interference.

The hope is that this success can be replicated in any future deployments. From planning to implementation of a spectrum monitoring network, the process and experience will increase the effectiveness of spectrum monitoring within the JSA.

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