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Check It Out

Posted on Wed Jun 2nd, 2021 @ 2:37am by Kirk Bailey & Olivia Vo & Fyxea Hawas PhD

Mission: The Skorlm
Location: Astrometrics Lab
Timeline: MD 1 1700

Fyxea paced in front of the main terminal, her hands clasped together. She was waiting on the Captain and Lieutenant Vo, she hadn't interacted with the Captain one-on-one and in general, did have a ton of experience interacting with command officers. She wasn't even a department head but the XO had liked the work and said she wanted the Lieutenant to present it to the Captain.

Olivia and Bailey stood together in a turbolift en route to the Reliant's Astrometrics lab. "I have to admit, I'm curious to see how they've implemented this new network," Olivia said, breaking the silence. "It has the potential to change the way ships like the Reliant handle border patrols, making our patrol routes more efficient and giving Starfleet coverage in some of our current blindspots."

The Captain looked over to Lieutenant Vo before looking back at the Turbolift's door, "I'm definitely all ears for Doctor Hawas and what she has to say about the new network but you may have to explain the technical and scientific jargon in a way, I understand."

The turbolift came to a halt and the doors slid open in front of Bailey and Vo. "Don't worry, Captain, the most important thing about this project is how we'll apply it to our patrols. We'll sort out the technical side." Olivia stepped aside and let the Captain exit first. She walked closely behind the man as they headed towards the Astrometrics lab.

The Captain didn't like it when people walked behind him now that he wore a fourth pip. He walked into Astrometrics and stepped aside to let Lieutenant Vo take point in the briefing with Doctor Hawas.

With the Captain off to the side, Olivia stepped forward and approached the blue-collared Lieutenant standing in the center of the room. "Afternoon, Lieutenant," Olivia said. "Thank you for taking the time to show us around. I hope we aren't disturbing you, I know these upgrades have taken quite a bit of time to get right."

The Captain followed the Lieutenant and approached the two women, "Doctor Hawas, a pleasure to meet you. Looking forward to seeing what you have to show us for today."

Fyexa gave a nervous smile. "Thank you, Sir, I hope you'll like what you see." She said giving a small nod to both officers. "Computer initialize protocol Hawas-A47." She said turning her back to the two for a moment to enter a string of commands into the main console before turning back. 'As you both know our modern astrometric sensors are based on the developments made aboard the USS Voyager by the former Borg drone Annika Hansen also known as Seven of Nine, and Harry Kim. The sensors use Borg computational algorithms and sensor enhancements to monitor the position of hundreds of thousands of stars and phenomena at a time. They can, to a very high degree, accurately triangulate a position within the known galaxy. The more data the computer has the more accurately it can calculate the position."

"Our modern astrometric systems tie into the Starfleet data network and utilizing constantly updating data to refine the reference points used by the system. In recent years Starfleet has been working on integrating the ability to track objects using the same technology. It has resulted in increases in our tracking abilities and the ability for us to detect things at distance. This system takes the next step." The Bolian said turning back to the controls. A single keystroke added dozens of objects to the display. "Right now the Reliant is receiving live sensor data from dozens of sensor buoys along the border. As well as several starbases and starships. The data is transmitted with the same level of encryption as standard ship-to-ship communications. However, we're now able to detect and track objects within the sensor ranges of our partner platforms."

She tapped another key, "For example, this is a damaged Jutorian freighter currently being tracked on sensors by the USS Matterhorn as she renders aid." She said as the image zoomed in. "In fact, we're able to tie into the Matterhorn's visual feed." She said as a superimposed visual came up, showing the freighter with what appeared to be a plasma leak from its cell. The Matterhorn is currently 33 light-years away from us."

"Impressive," Olivia said as she raised an eyebrow. She was tempted to jump on the controls to test out the new system, but instead, she wrapped her arms behind her back and let Lieutenant Hawas take the lead. "Since this system relies on ship-to-ship communications systems, I'm assuming there's potential for delayed feeds depending on the distance of the nearest ship or buoy?" 

Fyexa nodded, "There is, part of the computation side of the programing works by taking the position and heading of an object and the time of the sensor data to project the likely position. So the further away from us the longer the delay, the more the computer has to estimate." She tapped another control. "This superimposes the uncertainty of the location, however, with modern hyper-subspace advancements the lag of the transmission is reduced even from a few years ago." The display added red rings around the objects displayed. Objects close to the Reliant had a single dot at their center, with the rings getting larger the further away. "Speed is obviously a fact so an object at the outer range of the expanded net moving at high warp also has a greater uncertainty. Eventually, the hope is to have enough data fed into the system that these uncertainties can be reduced. For example."

She paused for a moment and brought up a preset simulation. "This simulates a Klingon warbird moving at high warp. Here it intersects with our field and is registered to move at warp 9.2 and only briefly within sensor contact of a buoy along the border. We lose contact very quickly. However, hypothetically if we had a cruiser in the area that was part of the network." A few commands later and the simulation reran, "even with the delay and uncertainty we still have a far better idea of where it is and head. Like anything of this nature the more data the more accurate we can be."

The Captain understood the basics of what Dr. Hawas was saying. The apprehension of the more advanced knowledge surpassed him. He looked over at Lieutenant Vo for her lead on the conversation.

Seeing the Captain's glance, Olivia stepped forward a bit closer to the Doctor. "You said this runs on standard encryption, right?" She asked, knowing the answer. "I'll work on setting up a separate subnet in our communications relay. I don't want anyone tampering with or piggybacking off of this signal, and I don't think standard encryption is secure enough for a mesh network like this." After making her statement, she stepped back to stand parallel with the Captain. "A mesh network like this, with each ship and buoy acting as a node, could greatly expand our detection capabilities throughout Federation space," she began explaining to the Captain. "From what I understand, we're starting off small and running the network as a test along the border. But, if every ship in the fleet joined this network, it could give us a real-time view of every ship and every sensor reading in Federation space."

Fyexa nodded, "We're using the standard for two reasons, it's already built-in, and it doesn't add any work on the other end. It's the same that would happen if we had three starships working together and they were sharing sensor data. The potential for compromise is there, and an idea like what Lieutenant Vo is planning is already part of our model. Commander Silva has been a great help as right now we're relying on ships agreeing to this on a one-off basis, as such right now we've focused on ships operating in the same general area as we are. It's my hope that once we have evidence that it works, and some of the kinks out, that it could be moved forward to the Task Force or Fleet level. Starfleet gave us access to the buoys, but the rest of the ships and outposts have opted in."

"Let's try it for our upcoming patrol and I'll speak with Command when we get to Starbase 10 to see if any other ships want to be part of the pilot program," Bailey smiled. "Great work, Doctor Hawas."

Fyexa smiled, "Thank you Sir, I'm sure we'll have some bugs to work out but I think it has great potential."

"Of course. I'll leave you two to it, I've got to return to the Bridge." Bailey gave both women a curt nod before making his way to the Turbolift.


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