Updated: Jun 20
Last month I had the chance to attend the Department of Defense (DoD) Naval Post-Graduate School (NPS) Joint Interagency Field Experimentation (JIFX) https://nps.edu/web/fx/home event at Camp Roberts Army Reserve Base in California. This is by far the hottest, most arid, dustiest, and most inhospitable location I have ever been to for a gathering of technology developers and seekers…and it was AMAZING! Here’s why.
What is JIFX? How could I attend?
JIFX is organized by NPS which provides the staffing, support, and operational expertise to allow companies to test the capabilities and limitations of their technology in a real-world setting. Their leadership in this effort enables companies attending JIFX to “do what they need to do” while staying safe, secure, and legal. Companies that participate have access to clear airspace, above-ground multi-storied structures, and subterranean sites. Equipment that generates radio frequencies that may be problematic in a civilian environment can also be safely tested at JIFX. As a bonus, such equipment can receive a vulnerability assessment through on-site support from the Joint Vulnerability Assessment Branch (JVAB) https://nps.edu/web/fx/cybersecurity RF and Computer Network Security.
This is a free event. The only cost to the company is travel, food, lodging, and shipping of equipment. JIFX is not a tradeshow, not a demo day, not a pitch day. No expensive hotels, registration fees, or the need to set up a trade show booth. It’s an opportunity to push technology to the limits in a real-world setting; to gather, transmit, and share information; and allow the Department of the Navy and Department of Defense operational communities the chance to experiment with new technologies and understand the capabilities that they may represent.
To participate, your first step is to review the program Request for Information (RFI) https://nps.edu/web/fx/rfi and match your technology solution to an Area of Interest. Then, submit a short (it really is) Experiment Proposal.
The 2022 RFI for JIFX lists two key Areas of Interest:
· Priority #1: Autonomy / Autonomous Systems / Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning / Cybersecurity / C3 Research
· Priority #2: Quantum Networking / Microelectronics / Space Systems / Hypersonics / Space Systems / Missile Defense Research
Additional Areas of Interest include, but are not limited to:
· Unmanned Aerial Systems
· Unmanned Systems (UxS) Design, Development, Operation, Networking, and Control
· Countering Unmanned Systems
· Communication and Networking
· Cyber, Cyber Security, and Electronic Warfare
· Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)
· Situational Awareness
· Defense Support to Civil Authorities
· Health & Safety
· Expeditionary Operations
· Infrastructure and Power
· Mobility and Transportation
· Precision Strike, Non-Lethal Weapons, Information Operations
Lisa's Thoughts on JIFX
I found JIFX to be a refreshing change from the typical gatherings that promise stimulating speakers, vendor showcases, and the chance to network with large numbers of people who may (or may not) be able to help companies move forward. JIFX is unique. Its purpose driven. There is no fluff. There are also few amenities. Be prepared to pack a lunch, bring your own water, and then set up your experiment in the wide-open spaces. When you pick your spot be sure to watch out for tarantulas and rattle snakes (I told you it was inhospitable); don’t forget to look for some shade, temps hit 90+ on a regular basis. This is a serious event to deal with serious problems that hinder National Defense and Security; and, attendees are there to work. From the NPS staff to the DoD observers, everyone comes to JIFX to learn, to support the Warfighter, and strengthen a community that celebrates success and failure alike because both move us forward.
The Five Key Tenets of JIFX
Five key tenets are fundamental to the JIFX program, and they sound a lot like the things I’ve heard over the years from entrepreneurs who want to break the mold and change the world:
• Austere by Design
• Collaboration is Expected
• Bounded, Not Controlled
• Inclusive by Default
• Develop. Now.
I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about JIFX. Moving new technology forward is hard, getting it into the hands of people who care, even more difficult, but this event can help.
Thinking about enrolling in the TRIAD Program?
If you’re an innovator, researcher, or supporter of those groups you should also look to the TRIAD Program from GDI Partners for assistance. We help our clients share the Right Information in the Right Format with the Right People to increase access to DoD / Federal Agency resources and opportunities. To learn more, check out the next Intro to TRIAD webinar. Registration for this free event is open at: www.gdipartners.com/webinar