Defence and Security Challenges for second Competitive Projects Call for Proposals

Theme One: Protecting our Forces

Challenge #1: Detection of concealed explosives

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) seek to improve stand-off detection of concealed explosives in order to mitigate the threat to soldiers operating in high-risk environments.

Background and Context

The evolving nature of the threat posed by concealed explosives, or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), presents an ongoing and significant challenge for soldiers in operations. To counter this threat, assorted tactics, tools, and procedures have been implemented, as well as new vehicle designs to disperse the explosive impacts and technical solutions to locate the IEDs. Currently, the CAF uses an Expedient Route Opening Capability which consists of vehicles equipped with Ground Penetrating Radars and metal detectors that are capable of finding roadside and buried IEDs.

However, adversaries have shown themselves to be highly adaptable by using low-cost technologies to develop increasingly sophisticated IEDs and operating in urban environments has proven significantly more challenging due to underground infrastructure and the presence of significant electromagnetic traffic.  In light of this evolving nature of the IED threat, new technologies and methods are required to mitigate the risk to soldiers.

Desired Desired Outcomes and Considerations

DND/CAF is looking for novel solutions to increase the distance for stand-off detection of explosives, and to improve the speed at which detection occurs. The desired outcome is a solution for detecting concealed explosives with sufficient warning to allow the CAF to avoid concealed IEDs. (“Concealed” is to be interpreted as an IED device being below the surface level and/or covered such that it is not visible.)

It is desirable that proposed solutions can detect the location of concealed explosives in real-time from a distance of at least five metres with a 95% confidence factor. 

Challenge #2: Respiratory protection for DND/CAF members with facial hair

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) require respiratory protection systems for members with facial hair who must operate in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environments in order to maximize their safety while also ensuring their ability to operate freely for prolonged periods of time.

Background and Context

Historically, only a small segment of Canadian Armed Forces members were allowed to have beards. The vast majority were required to be clean-shaven. The CAF has begun to loosen its restrictions on members with beards, but presently, military members are still required to be clean-shaven for safety reasons, e.g., to maximize their level of protection when operating in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environments.

The problem with negative pressure gas masks is that facial hair degrades their performance below acceptable levels by preventing a flawless seal between the mask surface and the wearer’s face. Some respiratory protection systems claim they can accommodate facial hair, but they have been observed to offer a limited period of protection for emergency evacuation purposes only, and they do not meet the stated requirement of ensuring the wearer can operate freely for prolonged periods.

Desired Outcomes and Considerations

The DND/CAF is looking for respiratory systems that can accommodate facial hair and still provide maximum protection in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environments. Key outcomes are: ease of use, protection levels, allow wearer to operate freely for prolonged periods, and must integrate with existing Canadian Armed Forces Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) protective suits.  The solution must accommodate a wide range of Canadian Armed Forces face shapes and sizes.

Theme Two: Putting Our People First

Challenge #3: An integrated human resources data management solution

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) require novel tools and methods to seamlessly and securely access, share, integrate, and analyze disparate types and sources of human resources management data residing in different applications and storage systems.

Background and Context

Decision-making related to personnel is significantly strengthened by timely access to accurate and complete data.  Data on personnel in DND/CAF currently exists on multiple, disconnected applications and storage systems, which makes integrating and analyzing data from various sources labour intensive, error-prone, and inefficient.  Moreover, only a small fraction of personnel currently have access to their own data. The dispersed nature of DND/CAF operations adds additional challenges to data management, including the need to access data while deployed overseas or operating at home, at bases across Canada or in headquarters, or in any of the many CAF recruitment centres across Canada.  The sensitive and varied nature of this data – including performance assessment, career management plans, and medical data – necessitates a flexible system that can be tailored to each individual as a function of their role. DND/CAF’s goal is to explore solutions for the secure storage, integration, and analysis of data necessary for decision-making and operations at home and in theatre. Although many vendors offer viable solutions (e.g. cloud services), a critical consideration in this case is an ability to host, access and use DND/CAF data, while ensuring data is protected from threats such as access by unauthorized personnel, hackers, or foreign governments.

Desired Outcomes and Considerations

The desired outcome of this activity is the development and demonstration of novel technologies and methods to seamlessly and securely access, share, integrate, and analyze disparate types and sources of human resources management data residing in different applications and storage systems.  Successful proposals must include a detailed discussion of all factors to be considered when assessing the viability of a solution in the Canadian and DND/CAF context. Proposed solutions should be:

  • Secure, with an ability to transmit sensitive data securely and protect data from unauthorized access;
  • Flexible, with an ability to integrate various forms of data residing on disparate data storage systems;
  • Scalable and adaptable, with an ability to incorporate new functionality, data sources and forms of data, e.g. video, as well as new users and access sites;
  • Customizable, with an ability to tailor access to individuals based on their role;
  • Compliant with applicable Canadian Government policies/regulations regarding data storage and management;
  • Internet accessible and user-friendly, requiring minimal training; and
  • Cost effective across the full life-cycle.

Challenge #4: Alternative recruitment models

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) require a modern, agile, and cost-effective recruitment system that reduces reliance on physical recruitment sites and leverages novel approaches to engage with applicants located across Canada.

Background and Context

Enhancing the efficiency of the CAF recruiting system is a key defence priority. The CAF recruitment model continues to rely on ‘bricks and mortar’, where applicants are required to report to a recruiting center to complete many of the steps involved in the application process.   Although applicants can now apply online, the majority of the recruitment and selection process involves direct involvement of CAF members (e.g. administration, testing, evaluation of learning equivalencies, file tracking and processing, etc.).   The CAF would like to explore strategies to reduce their reliance on physical recruitment sites, while maintaining (or, preferably, increasing) access to the applicant pool and ensuring applicants receive the exposure they require to make informed decisions about a career in the CAF.  

Desired Outcomes and Considerations

The desired outcome of this activity is the development and demonstration of innovative approaches to recruit personnel for the CAF, while decreasing the footprint, maintaining/increasing access to the applicant pool, and ensuring applicants have access to information necessary to make decision (which could include but is not limited to the employment of virtual recruitment technologies/processes, the use of artificial intelligence to identify and attract individuals with specific competencies and attributes and up to the complete outsourcing of the early phases of recruitment). Proposals should be tailored to the unique context of the CAF. Proposals should include a detailed discussion of the factors to be considered in assessing alternative recruitment approaches, including cost/benefit considerations (i.e. personnel and funding to set up and sustain the capability). Proposals should build upon best practices observed across a broad range of organizational types (i.e. private, public, non-profit, other).

Theme Three: Enhanced C4ISR

Challenge #5: Detecting, and defending against fake images, audio and video

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) along with Canadian public security partners in law enforcement and national security are looking for solutions for authenticating Full Motion Video (FMV) in order to protect video from unintended or malicious tampering.

Background and Context

Full motion video has become a crucial asset when making operational decisions. A massive amount of FMV is now being captured and stored, and practitioners must rely on automated tools for processing and exploiting the contents of video libraries. Automated tools offer significant benefits, but relying on these tools also creates risks as the technology grows in sophistication. Automated tools can be used by adversaries to gain access to and manipulate FMV assets. Militaries and security organizations who rely on video data must be able to protect it from tampering and verify its authenticity, in order to guarantee the trustworthiness. After video is captured, subsequent changes, performed by either an adversary or insider threat, can be difficult or impossible to detect and trace to their source. Tools and methods are needed for creating a digital “chain of custody” during processing, exploitation and dissemination and for files stored in video libraries. The ability to maintain version control is also needed when downgrading and declassifying videos.

Desired Outcomes and Considerations

The desired outcome of this effort is a suite of automated tools and methods for encoding, detecting and protecting full motion video from tampering during capture, storage, retrieval or processing operations.

The expected outcomes may include but are not limited to:

  • Ability to determine whether video assets, upon later retrieval, are the same as when they were originally recorded, and version control to maintain records of authorized changes;
  • Tools and methods for detecting sophisticated tampering of surveillance video;
  • Ability to detect and thwart counter-automation spoofing techniques;
  • End-to-end platform-to-platform protection with a complete and automated forensic analysis to  prevent tampering and to maintain the data integrity of surveillance video;
  • Ability to downgrade and declassify video by removing metadata fields or segments, while maintaining video authenticity and a record of the source of authorized changes; and
  • Ability to create a digital “chain of custody” for video files to ensure data integrity once file sharing has begun.

Challenge #6: Persistent maritime surface sensor system

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) require an integrated and persistent sensor, information, and decision system that provides indications and warnings of surface and near-surface threats in Canada’s three oceans maritime estate.

Background and Context

DND/CAF requires a persistent, effective, reliable and secure system capable of detecting and continuously tracking a full-spectrum of threats in the maritime environment including, but not limited to, small maritime vessels (65 feet or less), low-observable cruise missiles, small and micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems, and other small radar cross-section objects, at a sufficient range that permits an appropriate, scalable response.

Desired Outcomes and Considerations

The goal of the challenge is to enhance maritime domain awareness. The national commands and agencies responsible for maritime continental defense and security need sufficient time to conduct threat assessments and effectively respond to threats in the maritime environment. Innovative solutions are sought that will support the DND/CAF’s ability to reliably detect, characterize and track objects within the maritime approaches to Canada. Of particular interest are innovative solutions that bolster defense and security in northern regions of Canada.

Research, analysis, concepts and technologies are sought that address, but are not limited to, one or more of the following characteristics associated with an enhanced maritime domain awareness system:

  • Capable of unhindered operation regardless of environmental and weather conditions, including, but not limited to, high Arctic conditions (e.g., low temperature and low light);
  • Capable of extended operation in remote locations with power storage capabilities;
  • Flexibility to adjust to changing threat characteristics and behaviours, such as mode of operation, physical properties and spectrum of emissions;
  • Enable prompt and reliable detection of relevant objects in order to permit sufficient time for threat characterization, assessment and response;
  • Capable of detecting and tracking multiple concurrent objects and anomalies;
  • Allow for persistent tracking of maritime surface and near-surface threats in the maritime environment (i.e., enduring or prolonged presence covering an area of interest);
  • Have the ability to maintain contact of maritime surface and near-surface threats (i.e., continuous tracking) by some means (e.g., radar, visual, infrared, etc.) as required; and
  • Allow for trusted and secure real-time data transmission and communication of data and information to appropriate agencies in order to permit near-real time decision-making.

Theme Four: Building Cyber Capability

Challenge #7: Understanding cyber intent

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) require the means to differentiate between targeted malicious and broad and opportunistic cyber-attacks in order to triage and prioritize cyber responses.

Background and Context

The DND/CAF is responsible for managing large IT networks that are continuously under attack by online hackers who seek to thwart security protocols and whose motivation and level of sophistication varies. Most attacks do not target the department specifically, however others are highly targeted and sophisticated.

Even with reliable and accurate detection capabilities, DND/CAF must keep pace with change by investing in new and better automated tools that can be used to reveal malicious cyber-activity. While detection is critical, it is only the first part of the equation; as such, DND/CAF is seeking ways to discern the intent of would-be attackers which is a key component of a risk-based approach for proactively managing cyber-attacks. Bolstering the cyber intent capability would allow DND/CAF to better focus its resources to limit the impacts of malicious attacks or in other, more extreme cases, to take offensive measures to defeat the most serious threats.

Desired Outcomes and Considerations

Innovations are needed that permit DND/CAF to optimize its cyber response efforts. Tools and methods are sought that can greatly increase the detection of malicious cyber-attacks, but also the efficiency, speed and accuracy of human “triage” activities.

Examples of significant outcomes include but are not limited to:

  • Automated tools and methods for boosting “detection“ accuracy and reliability;
  • Better “tripwires” for revealing malicious activity;
  • Ways to discern the “intent” of would-be attackers in order to make judicious use of resources when deciding which cyber-attacks to address, counter and defeat;
  • Risk assessment tools and methods that will help to optimize response efforts;
  • Understanding patterns of behavior associated with adversarial tactics;
  • Better intelligence with respect to changing strategies and tactics of adversaries;
  • The ability to identify adversaries based on patterns of behavior in cyberspace; and
  • Forensic analysis of successful and failed attacks to uncover patterns and trends.

Challenge #8: Detecting and responding to hostile information activities

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) require the means to rapidly identify, assess and respond to adversaries’ use of social media, mass communications and other tools that are being used to influence targeted audiences.

Background and Context

Adversarial states and non-state actors are engaging in hostile influence activities, e.g., information-based techniques, deception, and image-manipulation activities, to undermine a nation’s reputation, values, cohesion, authority and decision-making processes. Even though many nations are under threat from these types of activities, not all are aware of their existence. Most hostile influence activities are thought to occur in contexts and fora that are not being monitored by the security apparatus of the nations being targeted. But even when nations are aware of these subversive activities, few are thought to have devised strategies and plans for protecting their populations to their potential harm or responding skillfully to mitigate the consequences. 

Desired Outcomes and Considerations

There is a need to understand when hostile actions are being undertaken, followed by a clear understanding of the population segments that are being targeted and their vulnerability to manipulation. Understanding the triggers and thresholds for mobilization is also crucial. Reliable indicators are needed for knowing when influence activities are achieving their desired effect (e.g., a measurable change in a population’s opinion or sentiment).

Examples of significant outcomes of this challenge include but are not limited to:

  • Developing a typology of past hostile influence activities against Canada, using examples and case studies to discern patterns specifically related to social media strategies and techniques for organizing attacks (e.g., deriving sympathy, influence and financing);
  • Identifying indicators of change in public opinion and behaviour, and the attendant triggers and thresholds;
  • Developing tools and methods (e.g., a tactical warning tool) for detecting hostile activities affecting Canadian interests;
  • Conducting research on adversarial motives, intent, strategies and information-based, social media techniques to develop a framework for identifying, assessing, and skillfully responding to hostile influence activities conducted on social media;
  • Conducting research to explore relationships between influence activities, individual- and group-level vulnerabilities and the likelihood of mobilization in response to manipulations;
  • Undertaking cross-cultural analyses to understand how and when hostile influence activities are used to exploit cultural sensitivities, fuel intercultural tensions or undermine social cohesion; and
  • Identifying and analyzing case studies where other Allied nations have responded to information warfare activities in order to discern lessons learned.

Theme Five: Operating in Austere Environments

Challenge #9: Full spectrum communications in the Arctic

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) require a reliable, trusted and affordable communications solution to provide both support and command and control to forces engaged in domestic and continental defence, security and safety missions in the Northern regions including the Arctic.

Background and Context

The Arctic region is beyond the range of geostationary satellites, and conventional high frequency (HF) beyond-line-of-sight communication is unreliable due to ionospheric conditions. As a result, DND/CAF lacks the connectivity required among forward operating locations, including Canadian and Allied land, sea or air units and platforms, across the Arctic region, including the approaches to North America. An Arctic-wide, robust and secure communications architecture (voice, datalink, full motion video) is needed North of approximately 65 degrees latitude to conduct command and control of the full spectrum of forces, which includes intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, maritime domain awareness, search and rescue, and air intercept operations.

Desired Outcomes and Considerations

Research, analysis, concepts and technologies are sought that address, but are not limited to, one or more of the following characteristics associated with the need for robust, reliable and resilient communications connectivity solutions (voice, image and video) in the Arctic region:

  • Assured communications beyond geostationary satellite range, where conventional HF communication technology does not support sufficient bandwidth or reliability, commercial communication infrastructure is limited or non-existent, and the weather conditions are harsh;
  • On-demand connectivity to support secure voice, data and video applications;
  • Automated link set-up and control to enable unmonitored operation;
  • Multiple simultaneous links providing reliable beyond-line-of-sight communications between mobile or fixed platforms within the Arctic region and Southern Canada;
  • Secure communication exchange between forward operating locations and DND/CAF, NORAD, and Government of Canada networks in Southern Canada;
  • Capable of secure operation at all times of day in the full range of environmental and weather conditions experienced in the high Arctic;
  • Resistant to interference and exploitation from hostile forces; and
  • Alternate power sources to operate for extended periods in remote locations and in extended darkness.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: