Hand held database developed for Australian soldiers overseas

Usability trial in Timor a success

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) has developed a hand-held information tool to help Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel operate more effectively by using local knowledge during deployments overseas.

The device, known as the Synchronised Handheld Information & Local Observation Collator or SHIRLOC, was demonstrated at the recent Land Warfare Conference in Adelaide.

SHIRLOC is an information tool that runs on Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) and was initially designed for use by soldiers on peace keeping missions.

Acting chief defence scientist Dr Nanda Nandagopal said SHIRLOC was developed for Australian troops in Timor-Leste to help them in compiling information on local criminal elements and illegal activities.

"In complex warfighting and peacekeeping operations, where local knowledge is becoming increasingly important, SHIRLOC improves awareness of mission-relevant information to assist troops in carrying out their dangerous tasks," he said.

"SHIRLOC consists of a database with a large number of records that can be readily referenced during patrols, providing soldiers with an enormous amount of information not previously accessible."

Records stored in the SHIRLOC database for persons of interest include cross-reference links to associated people, locations, events, groups and even vehicles.

Searches in the SHIRLOC database can be carried out using variables of names and alias, age and group.

During the development of SHIRLOC, DSTO worked closely with the ADF throughout the design process to create a user-friendly menu structure and interface.

"SHIRLOC is a flexible system and a recent successful usability trial and evaluation in Timor-Leste means that its capability could be extended to other theatres of operation," Dr Nandagopal said.

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