As the IoT and 5G, the next generation standard for mobile communications, become a larger base of our technological infrastructure, the wireless industry has become increasingly aware of issues of interference, noise, interoperability, and cooperation between all of our electronic devices. The ability to address these issues is no longer reserved for wireless and radio engineers because the problems now span a wide set of disciplines. In addition to spectrum allocation and usage, the management of wireless devices include issues such as security, authentication, access control, network routing issues, power and battery issues, and antenna placement and design. Furthermore, the design, deployment, and maintenance of wireless systems and networks require the development of a huge number of tools, including software management for code development and debugging, diagnostic tools for addressing problems when devices are fielded, and user interfaces to lower the barriers to using these devices. These problems require a wide range of specialists to work alongside with the traditional software radio developers. The industry will need to enlist interface designers, software engineers, data scientists, infrastructure experts, web developers, and many others in order to create a complete solution.

While the focus of the DARPA Brussels Hackfest is on radio frequency (RF) interference issues for commercial communications, DARPA and the US Department of Defense also have an interest in better understanding interference issues. Like the commercial sector, increasing reliance on wireless connectivity means equally increasing risk from interference. In forward deployments and military bases, these issues are problematic due to the risk they pose for disrupting communications and, therefore, operations. A shared interest of the military and civilian worlds is RF interference in hospitals; reliance on wireless connectivity for many new diagnostics and instrumentation leads to risks and problems arising from interference.

Recognizing the diversity of skills necessary to address this issue, DARPA is inviting anyone interested in this space to attend the DARPA Brussels Hackfest and contribute their talents to the many facets of the technology. As we have seen in the past, even non experts in the software radio field will be able to contribute significantly to the problem space while also being able to learn more about software radio and the electromagnetic spectrum. This is a hugely important technical space that requires both a lot of work in many different fields and a lot of great ideas and innovative thinking.

The rest of this problem book will set up the areas DARPA has identified as important issues to tackle. DARPA Brussels Hackfest participants will likely organize smaller groups around these problem areas.