A proposal of a Greener Defence Technology Monitoring considering environmentally conscious and energy efficient military technology solutions

By Roman Kernchen

A proposal of a Greener Defence Technology Monitoring considering environmentally conscious and energy efficient military technology solutions

In recent years, many nations have developed and implemented green solutions for defence. Optimisation of energy, water and waste management are current focal areas of such efforts, together with catalysing developments of more environmentally conscious materials and munitions. Yet the military is currently engaged in an extensive undertaking to improve its sustainable energy use by reducing demand and developing alternative propulsion systems in its multiple roles as an armed force, a landowner, a first user of precommercial technologies, and a potential high-demand consumer. Wider application of innovative and environmentally conscious technologies, the smart use of energy resources, increasing general awareness among stakeholders and the establishing of tailored green policies and strategies are the evidence of progress in this area. Military organisations are undertaking such actions not only in response to parliamentary directives and executive orders, but also voluntarily in response to its internal battlefield and national security needs. Building on these initiatives NATO formulated the NATO Green Defence Framework in 2014. The framework provides a basis for increased knowledge-sharing and research coordination, which can support the development of cheaper and more effective green solutions for defence.

The number of green technologies that potentially could be used by military organizations, both today and in future, is vast and currently unmapped. This lack of relevant information and limited insight can be seen as a hindrance to strategic procurement planning and technology prioritization. Taking environmental aspects into account at such an early stage in the innovation process is not an easy task. We therefore propose a review and technology monitoring process that is considering environmentally conscious and energy efficient military technology solutions. Monitoring of emerging technologies can identify incipient technological changes quickly and is an invaluable component of technology planning and R&D policy planning by governments and companies.

In our technology monitoring, a four-phase systematic process will be applied as illustrated in the diagram below. The phases presented in the diagram aim at providing a systematic framework to conduct the technology monitoring and analysis activity.

Stage 1: Formation of a list of terms

In the first stage of the monitoring process a set of terms and keywords is formed to be used for searches. Bibliometric analysis tools are used to gather relevant keywords and to conduct frequency analysis, which reveal the top development issues. Typically, about 20–40 keywords are used in the monitoring to describe each technology subarea in a complete manner. The list must be large enough to provide a unique description of the area under investigation. Domain experts are involved in the process for the identification and refinement of the keywords to best represent the area under investigation.

Stage 2: Scanning of information sources

At this stage of the methodology, a set of databases and collections will be determined for the analysis. The monitoring process will include a wide range of information sources to capture emerging technologies. The use and relevancy of information sources has to be assessed according to the scope and objectives of the study. Below, some of the potentially useful information sources are listed and described.

Scientific articles
The most frequently used sources of information in our monitoring work, as the latest scientific advancements are commonly discussed and shared in the scientific literature. The Clarivate Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus databases will be preferentially used for the generation of a collection of articles. The articles are identified by using the list of keywords generated in the first stage of the monitoring process through bibliometric analysis.

Patents play a pivotal role in our monitoring process as inventions patented represent important evidence of scientific and engineering advancements in certain areas of S&T. Patents reflect the ability of an individual or organization to transform scientific results into technological applications. The Derwent Innovation (DI) database will be used for the patent monitoring work. DI’s Smart Search uses an AI driven algorithm that enables highly focused and effective relevance ranking and a visual representation of the patent landscape

Media is a source of understanding S&T supply and demand dynamics in a wide variety of socio-economic areas. Analysing media provides the opportunity to monitor leading science and technological news from business sites, and transcripts of essential news channels.

Conferences and S&T programs
International conferences, seminars and S&T program or project websites are potentially useful sources of information and can be beneficial for our monitoring.

Stage 3: Identification and analysis of trends

The data on trends are then analysed and described in the ‘identification’ phase. This phase benefits from expert opinions to capture the diversity of multiple interpretations and different viewpoints. One of the core features of trend descriptions is the R&D cycle stage at which major work is carried out (basic research, applied research, development), which in turn may indicate approximate year of technology implementation and expected market volume. For understanding the state-of-the-art in the subject area, a brief description of scientific and technological context will be included. Promising products, services and key areas of application associated to the trend indicate the potentials for exploitation.

Stage 4: Identification of key actors and networks

Following the identification of trends, the fourth stage considers the networks of trends, key actors, institutions, countries and examines the dynamic relationships between them. With a timeline analysis, this phase will reveal the technology development pathways, and thus the nature of technology trends. Information on key players and leading countries in the subject area are helpful to determine the global development of the technology. The bibliometric analysis will be performed using the Clarivate Web of Science platform, which provides information not only about the ratings of scientists, countries, research directions, but also contains additional features like ‘highly cited papers’ and ‘research fronts’.

The comprehensive and systematic monitoring process is intended to establish a long-term oriented technology observation base for environmentally conscious and energy efficient military technology solutions which allows strategic planning of technology use and future product development. The results of the technology monitoring can be presented in a final workshop with the participation of broader stakeholders to discuss and prioritize the list of technology trends. 

Roman Kernchen
Scientific Director

Roman Kernchen is scientific director at Eyvor Institute. He received his Ph.D. (Dr.rer.nat.) from Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University, Bonn and then held permanent academic positions at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the Fraunhofer-Institute for Technological Trend Analysis. His current research interests centre around the investigation of scientific, economic, ecological, social, organizational, and political framework conditions for generating innovations and their implications for sustainability and security. Topics of interest include innovation research, risk studies, technology options assessment, strategic foresight, security studies, and governance of emerging technologies.