Winner: Northrop Grumman M5 Network Security

Battlefield communication by mobile, wi-fi and satellites

Secure, handheld communication tools developed in Canberra simultaneously use multiple available mobile-phone networks, wi-fi and satellites to ensure the signal never drops out.

Yet despite using these easily accessible public networks, the tools remain secure enough for use by military or intelligence personnel.

For development of the Secure Communications System suite of tools, Northrop Grumman M5 Network Security have been awarded the Defence Science and Technology Group Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science for Safeguarding Australia.

Designed for situations when secure, reliable communications are paramount, the tools are part of a whole suite of secure communication tools.

The lightweight SCS-100 is the smallest of the tools –handheld and easily packed into carry-on luggage, but carrying everything needed for one person’s self-contained, secure communication.

At the other end of the range, the degree of miniaturisation is even more impressive. The SCS 400 field-deployable headquarters packs a roomful of equipment into a unit the size of two briefcases: portable enough to be carried in the field, and able to simultaneously access multiple private and public information systems, and to connect 150 users at once to a secure network.

“The Secure Communications System is significantly more compact and easier to use than existing technology,” Kim McKay AO, Executive Director and CEO of the Australian Museum said. “Already proving its worth here and internationally, the system highlights Australia’s strength in secure, mobile communications,” she said.

The system was developed by a small Canberra company – M5 Network Security – that became part of the Northrop Grumman global technology giant in 2012.

Established in 1827, the Australian Museum is the nation’s first museum and one of its foremost scientific research, educational and cultural institutions. The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence in Research and Innovation, Leadership, Science Communication and Journalism, and School Science.

The other finalists were:
  • Professor Paul Burn, Professor Paul Meredith and Dr Paul Shaw (University of Queensland), for development of a luminescence-based detector for explosive vapours.
  • Associate Professor Charles Harb (University of New South Wales, Canberra), for development of an infrared spectroscopy system for rapid explosives detection.

Watch the video.

For more information about all the winners visit australianmuseum.net.au/eureka.