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The Center for Logistics and Digital Strategy, a division of the business school's Frank Hawkins Institute of Private Enterprise, has teamed up with the software company Saffron Technology.

The two entities will work to develop an application that could be used by the Boeing Company to mimic the way the human memory detects patterns in complex sets of data, said Noel Greis, the center's director.

Recent changes in the way U.S. military forces are deployed and sustained have created a need for better ways to move products and materials -- in this case military equipment and personnel -- throughout the world.

UNC is now developing an application of the software that will analyze a high volume of complex logistical data and then help the user make decisions based on the results -- and this is where Boeing becomes involved.

The application being designed at UNC will work with Boeing's existing analytical software program, Boeing Log Net, to receive information, such as the location of troops, food and weapons, and offer recommendations to military officials on course-of-action decisions in real time.

"We are developing a series of tools that will let us replace human decision-making with electronic decision-making," said Richard Rocks, manager of integrated defense logistics and integrated process team leader for Boeing. "It can be considered software that learns or that can help make decisions about support capability."

After participating in a conference at UNC two years ago, Saffron donated a copy of its generic software program, SaffronOne, for the business school to use for educational purposes, Greis said.

UNC entered into a partnership with Boeing, the largest aerospace company in the world, about one year ago.

"We had shared beliefs about the development of technology," Rocks said. "We had a relationship and we have grown that relationship."

He said Boeing's main goals are to prove that the concept behind the program makes sense and that the technology works.

While plans to implement the software application are already taking shape, Greis said it probably will not be used in the military operations in Afghanistan.

"I don't think it will be ready soon enough," Greis said. "It is a long-term project."

But Rocks said the program's completion will signal a new era in military technology. "We will be able to use sophisticated decision support instead of relying on yesterday's technology to make decisions for tomorrow."

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