Consider how we can take some of the tools being developed for model-based systems engineering and ask how they could apply at the mission or enterprise architecture level.

Let’s start with the idea of Digital Thread. From a conceptual perspective, it is a complete specification of a system, or mission, created from all the specialized domain models developed in the course of a project, organized in a useful fashion. From a practical point-of-view, it is a work product, delivered to management, customers, implementers and end-users, that provides them the information they need quickly and efficiently.

A Digital Thread can provide for integration of information across domain and organizational boundaries, preferably with a common platform and user interface. It enables us to manage and test many possible configurations of the domain models and explore the design space more fully. It allows us to grasp the information holistically in real-time, so we can better monitor and document progress at more frequent intervals. Finally, it also allows us to place limits on information sharing, balancing the needs for data access and data security.

In this blog series, we will apply model-based mission engineering to a specific example. At the core is an architectural model based on UAF, the Unified Architectural Framework. In a high-level operational view (Figure 1), we propose that an IED Removal Capability is composed of Operational Activities, Detect, Disarm and Dispose, which consume resources related to command, transport and security elements as well as a remotely-operated bomb disposal unit.

Figure 1 “OV-1-type” Mission Overview

However, other engineering software tools will to be used in developing this mission. To build the Digital Thread, we use Syndeia, an interoperability platform from our company, Intercax. The software tools that Syndeia integrates cover a wide range of disciplines, as shown in Figure 2), including tools for requirements, simulation and project management that are useful in mission engineering.

Figure 2 Syndeia Interoperability platform

For our example, we’ll use a simplified schema, as shown in Figure 3. At the center is a UAF model based on Capability, Operational Activities and Performers, and Service Functions and Specifications, linked by standard relationship types. But this is only part of the total modeling effort. Our service specification resources will be modeled in greater detail in SysML, the systems engineering modeling language. Stakeholder and system requirements are in a requirements management repository. A project management tool is being used to track the specification and testing of the service functions. We will want to make all these models part of our Digital Thread.

Figure 3 Simplified Mission Engineering Schema

Figure 3 Simplified Mission Engineering Schema

Next Steps

In forthcoming posts, we will illustrate the processes of populating and analyzing the Digital Thread. Part 2 will describe the UAF model and introduce the features of graph analysis to visualize this model. Part 3 will show how a SysML model used to specify the systems intended to carry out the mission fits within the graph framework. In the final part, we will integrate the requirements and project management tools to the UAF mission model, using the graph to identify connections (current, obsolete and missing) between the models.

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Dirk Zwemer

Dirk Zwemer

Dr. Dirk Zwemer ( is President of Intercax LLC (Atlanta, GA), a supplier of MBE engineering software platforms like Syndeia and ParaMagic. He is an active teacher and consultant in the field and holds Level 4 Model Builder-Advanced certification as an OMG System Modeling Professional.

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