US soldiers working with the NLR-tool QUEST

US soldiers working with the NLR-tool QUEST (photo: E.A. Reitz, Joint Staff J6)

NLR has developed a tool called QUEST (Questionnaire for Utility Evaluation and Survey Tool) for the collection of large amounts of data. This tool proved to be a key element in data collection during Bold Quest, a military operational test cycle. In appreciation for the tool, two NLR employees received this month a formal thank you letter from the Bold Quest organization.’

NLR has supported the military operational test cycle Bold Quest since 2007. These technological demonstration events held in the USA last for two weeks. These exercises are very similar to current operational deployments, while using new military Combat Identification (Combat ID) technologies. Bold Quest therefore also serves as a preview of the possible ways in which NATO will operate in five to ten years’ time.

Fratricide, or firing at one’s own troops or coalition partners during combat operations, is unfortunately always a real and present danger. The technologies tested during Bold Quest can help to reduce the risk of fratricide, and include technologies for recognition of coalition allies and Close Air Support using digital messaging and tactical data links.These new technologies are tested in Bold Quest for their operational deployability, which proves to be cost-effective and ensures they can be operated efficiently in military service. It is crucial to receive feedback from the military participants to achieve this. Traditionally, such data was collected via interviews or written questionnaires. NLR developed QUEST to collect this data electronically. With this tool it is possible to provide the participants with the questionnaire digitally, in a user-friendly format. The data is then immediately and fully available to all the analysts involved.

Hummers with Canadian soldiers

Hummers with Canadian soldiers (photo: Maj C. Gagnon, Canadian Armed Forces)

With QUEST, NLR provides a key element in data collection for the approximately ten countries participating in Bold Quest.

In seven Bold Quests, QUEST collected more than 300,000 submitted answers without loss of data. This support for the entire international coalition also led to the Joint Staff extending a formal thank you to NLR. The Joint Staff organizes Bold Quest.

QUEST is also available for other projects in which feedback is required from the users of technologies or facilities. Moreover, the tool is multidimensional and flexible: this stand-alone application can be applied in varying situations in which people must be able to give multiple choice or written answers.