An Advanced Study Institute (ASI) “Data Fusion for Situation Monitoring, Incident Detection, Alert and Response Management” was held in Yerevan State University's Narek Hotel, 19–29 August 2003 in Tsakhkadzor. This ASI continued the exploration of the relatively young (less than 20 years) discipline called Data Fusion, subsequent to the Multisensor Data Fusion ASI held in Pitlochry, Scotland, UK, 25 Jun 2000 – 7 Jul 2000. This publication is the Proceedings of the Institute.
An ASI is a high-level tutorial activity, one of many types of funded group support mechanisms established by the NATO Science Committee in support of the dissemination of knowledge and the formation of international scientific contacts. The NATO Science Committee was approved at a meeting of the Heads of Government of the Alliance in December 1957, subsequent to the 1956 recommendation of “Three Wise Men” – Foreign Ministers Lange (Norway), Martino (Italy) and Pearson (Canada) on Non-Military Cooperation in NATO. The NATO Science Committee established the NATO Science Programme in 1958 to encourage and support scientific collaboration between individual scientists and to foster scientific development in its member states. In 1999, following the end of the Cold War, the Science Programme was transformed so that support is now devoted to collaboration between Partner-country and NATO-country scientists or to contributing towards research support in Partner countries. Since 2004, the Science Programme was further modified to focus exclusively on NATO Priority Research Topics (i.e. Defense Against Terrorism or Countering Other Threats to Security) and also preferably on a Partner country priority area.
Data Fusion is a very broad interdisciplinary technology domain. It provides techniques and methods for:
1. integrating information from multiple sources and using the complementarity of these sources to derive maximum information about the phenomenon being observed;
2. analyzing and deriving the meaning of this information and predicting possible consequences of the observed state of the environment;
3. selecting the best course of action; and
4. controlling the actions.
The Data Fusion ASI in Pitlochry provided a systematic high-level view of data fusion fundamental theory and the enabling technologies and presented a set of applications in an accessible manner. In that ASI, more emphasis was put on the first, more mature phase of data fusion, namely the detection and identification/classification of phenomena being observed and exploitation of the related methods for Security-Related Civil Science and Technology (SST) applications. The organizers felt that in this ASI it was necessary to:
– expand on the data fusion methodology pertinent to Situation Monitoring, Incident Detection, Alert and Response Management;
– discuss some related Cognitive Engineering and visualization issues;
– provide an insight into the architectures and methodologies for building a data fusion system;
– discuss fusion approaches to image exploitation with emphasis on security applications;
– discuss novel distributed tracking approaches as a necessary step of situation monitoring and incident detection;
– provide examples of real situations, in which data fusion can enhance incident detection, prevention and response capability.
The theme of the Institute was scientific communication and exchange of ideas among academic, industrial, and government laboratory groups having a common interest in the development of information fusion based approaches to detection and prevention of safety and security risks.
The technical program was conceived to highlight general concepts (Fusion Methodology, Human Computer Interactions and Systems and Architectures) in the first week and applications (Data Fusion for Imagery, Tracking and Sensor Fusion and Applications and Opportunities for Fusion) in the second week, thus ensuring that the attendees were given a logical presentation of the data fusion material. In addition, at the request of some students as well as lecturer participants, a short tutorial on the Introduction to Data Fusion was repeated from the previous Data Fusion ASI in Pitlochry, on one of the evenings during the first week.
The Organizing Committee and the Directors encouraged informal discussion sessions, which were specifically useful because of the interdisciplinary nature of the topics discussed as well as the fact that most students did not have a formal education in Data Fusion, since the discipline is not on the curricula of most Universities in the world.
Fifty-nine participants and lecturers representing Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Norway, Portugal, Israel, Italy, Spain, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States attended the Institute. A distinguished faculty of lecturers was assembled and the technical program was organized with the generous and very capable assistance of the Organizing Committee composed of Prof. Ashot Akhperjanian (Armenia), Dr. Elisa Shahbazian (Canada), Dr. Eloi Bosse (Canada), Dr. Galina Rogova, (USA), and Dr. Pierre Valin (Canada).
The value to be gained from any ASI depends on the faculty – the lecturers who devote so much of their time and talents to make an Institute successful. As the reader of these proceedings will see, this ASI was particularly honored with an exceptional group of lecturers to whom the organizers and participants offer their deep appreciation.
Due to the broad interdisciplinary nature of the subject, the editors of this volume were faced with difficult decisions, such as:
– considering the technical continuity more important than keeping lectures by the same author together, since some lecturers chose to talk on very disparate topics;
– accepting some redundancy of discussion between lectures, when the applications are different; and
– accepting some minor differing interpretations of the data fusion model and taxonomy, since these are still debatable topics in the data fusion community;
– choosing to include some lectures on applications related to Situation Monitoring, Incident Detection, Alert and Response Management that did not discuss fusion methodology but presented a great challenge for fusion applications.
We are grateful to a number of organizations for providing the financial assistance that made the Institute possible. Foremost to the NATO Security Through Science Programme, which provided not only important financial support for the Institute, but equally valuable organizational and moral support, both in the beginning, when the ASI was proposed, as well as during the institute, through the participation of the NATO observer Dr. Steinar Hoibraten from Norway. In addition, the following sources made significant contributions: the U.S. Office of Naval Research, Defense Research and Development Canada in Valcartier, Centre of Research in Mathematics of University of Montreal, Canada, and Lockheed Martin Canada.
We would like to thank the management of Yerevan State University for allocating the Narek hotel for the ASI and ensuring that all the requirements of the ASI were fulfilled, and the staff of Narek hotel for a truly enjoyable and memorable two weeks in Tsakhtadzor. We would like to thank the Yerevan Physics Institute for organizing an unforgettable picnic at their facility on the banks of the mountainous Lake Sevan. We would also like to thank our local site manager, Karine Gasparian, for her dedicated efforts to address all communication, housing, transportation and entertainment requirements of the ASI participants, so that the Organizing Committee was able to fully concentrate on the technical program issues. Our special thanks go to our administrative assistants and interpreters Anna Galstyan, Artsvik Gevorkian, Armen Malkhasyan, Gayane Malkhasyan and Alana Mark, whose competence and warm friendliness made all the attendees feel welcomed at the ASI and comfortable in Armenia.
A very special acknowledgement goes to Ani Shahbazian who undertook a very challenging task of English language editing of all the lecturers' manuscripts, re-formatting all lectures after the technical editing was complete, and producing a camera-ready document for IOS Press. Thank you for your long hours and hard work.
And, finally, all of our thanks go to the people of Armenia, who certainly displayed, in every way, their warmth and hospitality.
Elisa Shahbazian, Montreal, Canada; Galina Rogova, Rochester, USA; Pierre Valin, Valcartier, Canada