The Android Team Awareness Kit, ATAK for short, is a technology developed by AFRL scientists and engineers, and over the past several years of using and refining in real-world combat zones by Special Operations forces and warfighters, this technology was has been adapted to fit the missions of local, state, and federal agencies. The combat version to the technology, referred to as Android Tactical Assault Kit, is used for tactical information feeds, various analytics and visualizations. When the technology is used in non-military operations such as law enforcement, event security, forest fires, or hurricanes, AFRL deploys a civilian version that they can even license to industry or local governments for their own use. During natural disasters such like Hurricane Florence, which paralyzed parts of the East Coast in September 2018, the software provided invaluable, life-saving, real-time mobile capabilities such as live video feeds, personnel tracking, image sharing, site surveys, augmented reality, geospatial mapping, navigation, and chat.
ATAK users, or “operators”, can be anyone ranging from volunteers, to military and law enforcement. Using ATAK operators can view the location of other operators and potential hazards, a major advantage over only relying on hand-held radio transmissions for communications and awareness. ATAK can be downloaded to a phone, tablet, or handheld device. It can be projected onto a large screen in a conference room, attached to an operator’s forearm, thigh, or chest for hands-free use. This technology informs users with up-to-the-second situational awareness that becomes critical in high-stress, hazardous environments. ATAK empowers collaboration across agencies, enabling joint-mission teams the ability to cross-communicate with one another. During disaster relief efforts amid Hurricane Florence, AFRL teamed-up with agencies like FEMA, the National Guard, the Cajun Army, Customs and Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense. Situational awareness in combat or during a natural disaster is a game-changer that can exponentially improve a team’s probability of success. ATAK is currently in use by over 40,000 DoD, DHS, and military users; 32,000 nonfederal users; and 100 commercial licensees.