Press release

Searching for a better way to search

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is looking for new ways to search in wide areas through the use of gaming technology.

Royal Navy Sea King helicopter comes to the aid of a fishing vessel

Conducting a search of an area is a common and important task for military forces – from locating persons in distress, to catching people-smugglers and pirates through to identifying and locating enemy submarines. However, there are a number of factors such as geography, characteristics and behaviour of the target and the forces and equipment available to the searcher which can all contribute to the effectiveness of the search.

Lt Jeannine Cooley, Royal Navy, who works alongside Dstl scientists developing new tactics at the Maritime Warfare Centre says:

Search is an extremely complex task and a search plan or strategy that functions well in one scenario may not work in another. For example a lost hiker would probably react differently to the sound of an approaching helicopter than a fugitive on the run!

In order to investigate ways to overcome these issues, researchers at Dstl are running a public competition, with £27,000 worth of funding available to create a web-based game in which search scenarios can be established and played out.

Dr Martin Fowler, Chief Scientific Advisor, Maritime Warfare Centre at HMS Collingwood, Fareham says:

In supporting this initiative, our aim is that this competition will provide tools to aid us in the further study of search tactics and problems. While we are coming at this from a defence perspective there are clear implications for civilian applications. So by opening the competition up to the public we hope to get some really innovative and exciting ideas to help us.

Once the competition is complete and the best game has been selected, the scientists at Dstl plan to eventually make the game publicly accessible online so that they can analyse the methods used by those playing the game to inform future approaches to search.

Those wishing to find out more about the competition and apply can register online. The competition is open until 15 August 2014.

Dstl Media Enquiries

Published 13 June 2014