The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Army Geospatial Center recently stood up a COVID-19 Geospatial Task Force as the Army works to maintain a common view of the impacts the pandemic is having on units and missions.
According to Col. Kevin Golinghorst, Army Capability Manager – Geospatial, Fort Leonard Wood geospatial experts are directly involved in ensuring these capabilities are being shared and integrated across the Army.
“The initial focus has been to support the Chief of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, as USACE works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services and states to assess existing facilities, such as arenas, hotels and dormitories, to be considered for use as alternate care facilities,” Golinghorst said.
However, that focus has expanded to include support to Army units worldwide.
“Specifically, we’ve seen many Army units across various echelons from engineer brigades to divisions and our geospatial planning cells who are creating geospatial portals – online maps – and digital dashboards of pertinent information that commanders and staff need to make critical decisions during this pivotal time for our nation and Army,” he said.
Golinghorst said best practices and unit examples have been collected, and the AGC and USACE are working in conjunction with academic institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University to model the available data. The latest initiative is to build a centralized portal with an initial focus on COVID-19 and as a geospatial planning cell discovery page.
“The goal is to develop this centralized portal into a one-stop-shop for Army leaders and Soldiers in the near future,” he said. “We have worked to include the Center for Army Analysis to ensure that we are communicating a common, synchronized message.”
Golinghorst said that U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command also requested assistance from ACM-Geo to establish a command-level common operating picture.
“That is underway,” he said. “While our operational units across Army Forces Command have embedded geospatial engineers, we’ve been surging to ensure the institutional Army has the geospatial capabilities to effectively manage and lead their units through this pandemic.”
The goal, according to Golinghorst, is for TRADOC and other commands to have information that is available to be visualized both on the map but also in quick-reference dashboards where pertinent information can be consolidated and highlighted.
“There are many possible solutions but specifically in this instance, we are establishing a solution from the Army Geospatial Enterprise Portal that AGC manages for units across the Army,” Golinghorst added.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jason Dyals, an ACM-Geo liaison officer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, explained that the portal can be customized to provide industry or capability specific map visualization, information sharing and location-based reporting.
He added that the Army Geospatial Enterprise Portal is a web-based solution that supports customizable map display, reporting and a situational-awareness COP display.
“These capabilities will allow the command to continue to monitor the current effects of COVID-19, but the next phase is to continue to model future impacts and assist commanders in making decisions in a timely manner,” Golinghorst said. “The geospatial tools are mainly taking the detailed analysis conducted by others but displaying the data in a geographical context and in tables and graphs that make the data easier to digest.”