As Rogue Squadron developed more and more UAS and C-UAS applications, we saw the need for an integration server that could fuse various data sources into one Common Operating Picture. DoD had several integration programs underway but they were large, bloated, and using old paradigms and technologies.
We envisioned Dowding with the following principles:
- Continuous integration and deployment around the world
- Built with a modern tech stack
- Clean, minimal UIs analogous to leading web apps
Dowding was named for the Dowding System, the world’s first integrated air defense system that helped win the Battle of Britain.
To bootstrap the effort, I developed a proof-of-concept server using Django, the Django Rest Framework, and MySQL. The server included a variety of data models for C-UAS, a RESTful interface, basic authentication, and unit and integration tests. A second developer built a web map UI. I wrote multiple adapters to ingest data from our internally-developed forensic app, an internally-developed ground control station, and multiple commercial C-UAS systems. We then demoed the server to numerous DoD stakeholders who enthusiastically supported the project. Based on that, we built a team to rewrite the server from scratch using NodeJS, TypeScript, PostgreSQL, Docker, Vault, MapBox, and Swagger.
I personally developed and maintained the Dowding Android app, which allowed distributed users to view a C-UAS common operating picture, receive alerts of drone incursions, receive proximity alerts, post data about visual sightings, and locate nearby drones using an augmented reality mode. The app was written in Kotlin.
I developed a Kotlin command-line simulator for Dowding that could load user-created flight plans from JSON files, then simulate real drone flights by posting to Dowding Server. The app proved instrumental for our own internal testing. We also provided it to partner organizations. When combined with our AWS test server, the simulator gave partners everything they needed to quickly begin developing for Dowding using realistic data.
iOS Proof-of-Concept App
I had always wanted to learn Swift and iOS development, so built a proof-of-concept Dowding iOS app over a weekend. It included a login screen, authentication with Dowding Server, receipt of UAS traffic via WebSockets, a live map, and a replication of the live radar widget I developed for Dowding Android.