Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Meeting spaces for education and warfare

One of my colleagues pointed out work by the Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Division of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation on advanced meeting spaces and distributed multi-site collaboration for military planning. What struck me was the similarity with the electronic learning rooms used for education. While Defence might seem to have unique requirements, education also has a need for mobile, vehicle mounted and shipborne collaboration environments. The problem is to knit together a range of technologies, so they can be sued in real time by a group of people in a room, linked to other people in other rooms.

DSTO's system is called "Livespace" with an unclassified "Livespaces technical overview" available. Such systems suffer from complexity making them difficult to use and maintain. The availability of the web to provide a set of commonly accepted stanrards to integrate such systems is not well understood by many developers. With this approach the physical meeting room can be thought of as a set of services which just happen top be physically colocated, but otherwise treated no differently to ones spread geographically. The Internet and web based standards can then be used to combine them together.

Google Wave might prove useful as an integrating technology, both for education and military meeting rooms, assuming it lives up to the hype. This would allow integration of various forms of electronic collaboration using a common set of protocols and APIs.


This report describes Livespaces, a technology framework developed by DSTO to support advanced meeting spaces and distributed multi-site collaboration. It discusses the rationale behind the Livespace concept, the history of the research and development that lead up to the Livespaces approach, and, in particular, its roots in providing support for the intense collaboration sessions often required by ADF operational planning specialists. The novel technical architecture employed by the Livespaces operating environment is described, as well as the new capabilities it enables. The report also discusses possible configurations for a Livespace and various applicable off-the-shelf hardware technologies and their trade-offs.

Executive Summary

This report contains a technical definition of the Livespaces technology framework developed by DSTO to support advanced meeting spaces and distributed multi-site collaboration. It defines the rationale behind the development of the Livespace concept, and describes the capabilities a Livespace provides. The Livespace concept originates from DSTO research into supporting the intense collaboration sessions often required of ADF planning specialists during the initial planning phase of an operation. Initial experiments in supporting this type of collaboration were carried out using a prototype assembled from components developed by several 3rd parties, including Stanford and the Distributed Systems Technology Centre. These lead to an initial Livespace prototype room at The University of South Australia, which was trialled as part of a series of Technical Exercises involving ADF planning staff. The requirements and experiences arising from the prototype were incorporated into the novel architecture for developing collaborative meeting spaces which is described in this report. This report describes the requirements and technical problem space that led to the design of the Livespace Bus, a distributed systems approach to solving the problem of integrating a disparate and distributed set of software and hardware components into a single manageable system. It includes a description of how the bus operates and provides a brief example showing how a software developer can use this framework to rapidly develop new Livespace services or extend existing ones. The software applications and services that have been developed on top of the Livespace Bus framework are described: these include various experimental groupware applications and the desktop applications for managing a Livespace smart meeting room, such as environmental settings (lights, volume, video switching, etc.) The report also discusses the various approaches to setting up a Livespace, its layout, trade-offs, and the various applicable hardware technologies that may be employed. In the future work section, we highlight the fact that Livespaces has matured to a level of stability that has enabled it to be successfully deployed to a number of ADF sites for advanced trials. It has also been deployed by CanadaĆ¢€™s DRDC to three Canadian sites under a TTCP Materiel Transfer Agreement. We discuss options for expanding the scope of Livespace application and collaboration, and recommend that an effective approach would be to make the Livespace framework available under an open source licence.

From: ">Livespaces technical overview, Matthew Phillips, DSTO, 2008, DSTO-TR-2188, AR-014-287, 07/248, 2007/1154298/1,

1 comment:

Matthew Phillips said...

You might be interested to know that Livespaces is now available as open source. Have a look at the Livespaces site on Sourceforge.