TAK: What is it, why the rage?

TAK: What is it, why the rage?
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If you have never heard of TAK – you have probably been living under a rock.  It’s okay all is forgiven.  TAK is an acronym for Team Awareness Kit for the civilian version and Tactical Awareness Kit for the military.  Within the post, I will use TAK regardless of the target version.  There are some slight variations between them such as the renaming or removal of certain radial objects or toolbars, etc…  Under the hood, it’s still the same tool. So, let’s discuss TAK: what is it, why the rage?

What is TAK?

TAK is a government off-the-shelf (GOTS) geospatial situational awareness suite of software. Various names support TAK on Android, iPhone, and Windows operating systems – keep reading. Think of TAK like Google Earth but on steroids.  You may have heard of ATAK which stands for Android TAK. TAK has published the first line of software under its ecosystem. The idea of ATAK started out on your typical napkin drawings around 2006-2007. It was adopted for development by Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in 2010-11. Various special operations commands fielded ATAK adoption, which spawned WinTAK (Windows TAK) and iTAK (iPhone/iOS TAK). The development began around the 2014-15 timeframe. By 2016 it started to gain widespread adoption within the military community. By 2020 spawned the public release of TAK to the civilian community.  Enough brief history, why is it the rage and spreading like wildfire?

I could speculate but once TAK exited the military community and entered the civilian communities such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and other federal governments its use case started to branch out from just your typical situational awareness tool.  Other than having a pretty good development, security, and operations pipeline, TAK offers a deep line of plugins. The last I looked there are over 120+ plugins. TAK can import 120+ plugins to enhance, enable, or create new functionality for the operational environments it is deployed on.

Why It’s Necessary within the DoD

This makes it a very formidable asset when pitted against traditional situation awareness software deployed within the military, single software design; pour more money into it to add features, etc. – insert personal opinion, but this is what makes TAK so great, you decide.  On the civilian side, it’s probably the next best thing to sliced bread.  Nothing against vendors or developers at the time but we all have to get money somehow.  Since we are on the topic of getting money, TAK receives its funding from board members who are product owners. As seen on the main splash page on TAK.gov.  A vendor of choice generally charges for special-use plugins, but TAK software is free.

TAK can solve many problems when it comes to interoperability without complexity. But with the flexibility to meet, expand, and transport data rapidly. Moreover, you can do that without having to go through the hurdles of data aggregation and translation working with multiple agencies. Without going into the deep rabbit hole any further I will leave you with this.  Try TAK, explore its capabilities, and think outside of the box about how this could meet your today and future problems.


TLDL: If you would like to learn more about TAK visit the following online resources: TAK.gov, TheTAKSyndicate, and CivTAK.  Want to try ATAK or iTAK for yourself search for it respectively via your mobile platform.  If you want to get started with TAK and build your own TAK Server to get started you can find a guide here.  Alternative open-source TAK Servers include TAK Server (TPC), TAKY, and FreeTAKServer(FTS).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not reflect or necessarily represent the views of the DoD or its components.  The appearance of, or reference to, any commercial products or services does not constitute DoD endorsement of those products or services. The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute DoD endorsement of the linked websites or the information, products, or services therein.

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