IROC prototype could revolutionize Air Force energy

  • Published
  • By Emily Mifsud
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – A revolutionary tool for energy managers, civil engineers and others, is being pioneered at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Natural Disaster Recovery Division. The Installation Resilience Operations Center, or IROC, is being tested at Tyndall through a contract with Novetta-Simple Sense.
Just as the 1980s “IROC” Camaro muscle car gave drivers a wide range of high performance features – Tyndall’s IROC promises to bring the horsepower needed to link a wide range of technologies together for users of the virtual operations center.

“The applications for the IROC are almost limitless,” said Col. Travis Leighton, director of AFCEC’s Natural Disaster Recovery Division. “This prototype is a critical piece of the framework for the Installation of the Future blueprint.”

“IROC will be the ‘system of systems’ that brings everything together,” said Dan Gerdes, AFCEC's advanced meter reading systems chief.

Gerdes and other members of AFCEC’s Energy Directorate have spent the last few years advancing tools, like the Advanced Meter Reading System and Facility Related Control System, to capture data to help the Air Force become more efficient by improving resilience and increasing energy assurance. 

IROC will alter basic paradigms in how communication and management of FRCS control software, as well as sensor data and real property devices, are used at the Florida base. It will merge machine system data streams that can be pulled, analyzed and manipulated in near real-time for an evolving situation.

“IROC is a way to feed the data collected from those sensors to a central data lake for deeper analysis, standardization and interoperability,” said Gerdes. “This is what the industry has done for years to optimize or automate their processes while ensuring cybersecurity. We are learning from their lessons and testing what works for the Air Force and Tyndall.”

While base energy needs can fluctuate depending on the situation at hand, access to the IROC’s real-time data gives commanders and energy managers the information necessary to make mission-critical decisions. 

“Each of our buildings have dozens of sensors and the controlling software often forces us to install multiple sensors that monitor the same thing,” said Gerdes. “This new technology will allow us to capture the data, avoid duplication and adapt it to find the information needed for the situation at hand.”

This will provide the commander with the information necessary to know if a facility is mission ready. Having this type of data readily available could prove especially helpful during or after a large-scale event, like a natural disaster or active shooter situation. The IROC will enable specific sensors to be toggled and assessed to reveal the overall status of that facility.

Additionally, the IROC will allow greater visibility into systems data allowing for the potential of greater energy conservation. Energy managers will have the capability to analyze components and sub-components of buildings rather than just visually inspecting a building. The capabilities of the IROC will also provide a platform to truly automate data thereby giving much needed time back to energy managers.

NDR leaders expect to deliver a final prototype by September 2023. Once complete, the IROC will be an invaluable tool for Tyndall, the Department of the Air Force and the Department of Defense, Leighton said.