Exercise Design

Learning Objectives

One of the first steps in organizing an trial demonstration is the identification of its learning objectives. In the case of this trial demonstration, the learning objectives were discussed with the other partners in depth and were used as the basis for the trial demonstration design.
The scenario-based group discussions were the central component of the trial demonstration design. During the trial demonstration the participants discussed the implications of the scenario, the division of responsibilities, the organizational processes, the stakeholders to be involved and the blind spots associated with differences of approach or a discovered lack of knowledge.

The main learning objective of the trial demonstration was the verification of the reliability of a complete procedure of identification of Persons of Interest (POIs) in a realistic maritime context. The analysis spanned from the acquisition of the biometric characteristics to the phase of verification of their presence into different Automatic Biometric Identity Systems (ABIS) in order to simulate a possible future scenario in which the identity of POIs could be checked in a multinational context.

To ensure that these learning objectives were in line with the expectations of the targeted trial demonstration audience, the scenario has been developed in close consultation with a heterogeneous group of main stakeholders ranging from NATO experts to representatives from the industrial context.


The scenario was chosen as the main element of the trial demonstration design because this facilitated the setup of the learning objectives that were shared among the participants through a series of face-to-face discussions.

Challenges and dilemmas
In formulating the learning objectives, it can be challenging to satisfy the different ideas and interests of all stakeholders involved. It may be necessary to further expand the scope of the trial demonstration to ensure participation of a particular stakeholder.

Staff roles during the trial demonstration

There were several trial staff roles that had been foreseen during the trial starting from the premise that there were several trial staff roles were needed in order to make it a success.

In specific, during the trial, facilitators, evaluators, experts and observers actively participated to the event, coordinated by an overall trial leader, a lead facilitator and a number of coordinators.

In following paragraph these roles will be described in more details. They ensured that the trial demonstration design elements could be harmonized in order to reach the learning objectives.

At the same time It was ensured that, during the trial, information could be shared and adaptations can be made, when necessary. In principle, all involved personnel (participants, evaluators, experts and observers) were coordinated by:

The Group Trial demonstration Leader

The Group Trial demonstration Leader coordinated all the actions with the lead coordinator during the trial demonstration and coaches participant actions.

The Lead Facilitator

The Lead Facilitator took care of all possible difficulties or problems that arose during the trial demonstration. He worked in strict collaboration with the Group and led the plenary meetings with the participants of the trial demonstration, explained to them what  happened, tried to create enthusiasm, monitored the progress and shared the lessons learned with the other members of the coordination staff.

Coordination staff

A coordination staff was responsible for controlling and monitoring the     execution of the trial. Following the progress of the objectives, he monitored     whether the trial design was functioning as planned and registered the     sentiments in the team.

    Trial demonstration Staff teams
    The trial demonstration staff teams performed the various phases of the trial     demonstration. Each one had its own coordinator who provided specific team     briefings, led the debriefings and provided the lead facilitator with information     for the wrap ups.

Elements of the trial demonstration

Suspect Vessel
The term “Suspect Vessel” intends a vessel for which reasonable elements of suspect to be engaged in illicit maritime activity, exist. A vessel without a nationality is considered, for example, a suspect vessel. For the purpose of the trial, four persons were on board the suspect vessel.

A rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) is a development of the inflatable boat and is a lightweight but high-performance and high-capacity boat constructed with a solid, shaped hull and flexible tubes at the gunwale. The design is stable and seaworthy. The inflatable collar allows the vessel to maintain buoyancy if a large quantity of water is shipped aboard due to bad sea conditions. The RHIB is a development of the inflatable boat.
RHIB are used as work boats (supporting shore facilities or larger ships in trades that operate on the water), military craft (where they are used in patrol roles and to transport troops between vessels or ashore) and as lifeboats. For the purpose of the trial demonstration, the team on board the RHIB is composed of 4 personnel. Two of them were experts in acquiring biometric data.

Naval Unit
The Naval Unit was a ship belonging to a NATO Nation. It was equipped with a series of computer hardware and software devices. In the naval unit the BEWL was installed.

Maritime Operational Center (MOC)
The purpose of the MOC was to help the commander trial demonstration control of subordinate forces and to coordinate support from other component commanders. The commander was invested with command authority, and it was through the MOC that he trial demonstration control.

An ABIS (Automated Biometric Identification System) is a particular software product that automatically conducts biometric comparisons, using machine algorithms, sometimes referred to as “lights-out” matching. This means that the component performs the matching of the records and does not require verification by an expert. Automated systems have been used for fingerprint comparison for at least the last three decades.
An ABIS performs a one-to-many (1:N) comparison of a “probe” sample to samples in a database containing many biometric templates. This enables matching of a live sample against many existing biometric templates to find a record of a particular individual and verify his or her identity. This is in contrast to one-to-one (1:1) verification – one biometric template, one user sample.
The earliest example of an ABIS is the “Automated Fingerprint Identification System” (AFIS). The FBI created AFIS in the 1980s. “AFIS” – and “ABIS” – are now used more as general descriptors rather than top describe a single system. An ABIS performs that same function as an AFIS but can search additional modalities beyond fingerprints, such as face and iris.
AFIS became IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System) in 1999 when the system was enabled with the ability to be searched by organizations outside the FBI.

The NATO Automated Biometric Identification System (NABIS) was developed as part of the Defence Against Terrorism Program of Work (DAT POW), managed by the Emerging Securities Challenges Division (ESCD) under NATO HQ. The NABIS capability was requested and authorized by the NATO Biometrics Program of Work Coordination Group, mainly to support the interoperability demonstrations.
NABIS was developed by using an existing NATO framework that was used in the past to develop intelligence information sharing systems such as the NATO Intelligence Toolbox. The intelligence specific functionality available in this NATO framework is also of relevance to biometrics operational capabilities. The NABIS considers the following biometric characteristics:

The matching engine uses a common approach based on a set of specific fingerprint points (minutiae), along with a number of proprietary algorithmic solutions to enhance system performance and reliability. The fingerprint matcher conducts common fingerprint comparisons for rolled fingerprints, flat fingerprints and latent prints. Match responses are automatically saved into a results folder in NABIS. NABIS users have the opportunity to review on a case-by-case basis and decide the best course of action to respond to a PING request.

The face recognition engine includes face localization, feature extraction, and matching using robust digital image processing and statistical algorithms, which are based on deep neural networks. Some of the key features of the matching engine include (i) the possibility of accepting images that were rotated, (ii) Head pitch (up and down) can be up to 15 degrees in each direction from the frontal position and (iii) Head yaw (side to side) can be up to 45 degrees in each direction from the frontal position. NABIS provides an automated comparison capability, however the results must be verified by an expert.

The iris matching engine implements an advanced iris segmentation, feature extraction, and matching using robust digital image processing algorithms. Irises can be detected even when there are obstructions to the image, visual noise and/or different levels of illumination, lighting reflections, eyelids and eyelashes are eliminated and images with narrowed eyelids or eyes that are looking away can also be accepted. All searches are automated, and match responses are presented to the user in a search folder.