By Joyce P. Martin, U.S. Army Geospatial Center
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Army Geospatial Center (AGC), a direct-reporting center, is equipping the Army to win against conflict by aligning geospatial data, standards, and development in such a way that lays the foundation for developments like 3D terrain data.
Many people are not aware of USACE’s mission to research and develop geospatial technology for warfighters through AGC. The AGC has been creating an understanding of the where and what of natural features, cultural features, and military capabilities that has been fundamental to the success of the Army since 2009.
“‘One World Terrain’ is developed in unison with the Army Geospatial Enterprise,” said Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, lead of the Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team, Army Futures Command. “The single shareable geospatial framework, as well as the broader geospatial/GEOINT [geospatial-intelligence] community ensures a validity and accuracy of 3D data and tools.”
Army operations are no different than FedEx, UPS, or DHL in that each manages planes, trains, and automobiles along with people, who need to come together in a place to make things happen.
Similarly, the Geospatial Information Systems that the Army uses hinge upon “a where and a when,” said Col. David Hibner, AGC commander.
“We work behind the scenes to produce guidance for standards, to fight for architecture that doesn’t drain the network, and to deliver data analytics to customers in and outside of the military services through warfighter support, systems acquisition and support, and the Geospatial Research Laboratory,” he said.
The Warfighter Support Directorate provides geospatial engineering support tailored to Mission Command systems and Programs of Record. This team maintains and expands geospatial data that powers Army systems. The common map background repository is one AGC tool that geospatial specialists use for location data during military operations.
The Systems Acquisition and Support Directorate synchronizes policies and manages geospatial integration and prototyping. This team supports the development and integration of the Army Geospatial Enterprise to lend geospatial intelligence expertise to develop and field tools for an array of military operations.
And finally, the USACE Geospatial Research Laboratory, which is actually a part of the Engineering Research and Development Center, works in tandem, co-located in Alexandria, Virginia, to deliver cuttingedge geospatial research such as automated generation of 3D photogrammetry products for decision support and mission planning.
This small, agile team sustains geospatial data, discovers better ways to conduct business through emerging technology, manages the Army Geospatial Enterprise, produces guidance for standards and architecture that doesn’t drain the network, and finally, delivers data analytics to customers in and outside of the services.
ARMY GEOSPATIAL CENTER
Discovers innovative ways to leverage geospatial and geospatial intelligence. The Urban Tactical Planner, or UTP, assists military operation planning in urban areas around the world. The urban environment data is displayed on a monitor as an aggregate of features that affect urban area operations, such as building form and function, building height, vertical obstructions, terrain features, bridges, key cultural features, and landmarks.
Manages the raw data collected from various sensors. The Engineering Route Studies, or ERS program, provides basic information on major surface transportation systems in conjunction with terrain and climate data at the country or operational level to assist the warfighter in planning missions, including military operations, humanitarian relief, transportation studies, and drug enforcement.
Produces high-resolution aerial, terrestrial, and satellite imagery. The BuckEye collection system rapidly collects, processes, and disseminates high-resolution geospatial data in support of tactical operations. The resulting unclassified color imagery and LIDAR elevation data improve battlefield visualization and operations.
Delivers safety of navigation/dam safety databases. The U.S. Inland Navigation System consists of more than 25,000 miles of commercial navigable waterways of which over 8,000 miles are maintained by USACE in 22 states, including 276 lock chambers, with a total lift of 6,100 feet. To support efficient, effective, and safe navigation, the AGC develops, updates, manages, and publishes electronic charts for the 8,000 miles of inland waterways.
Sustains standards, certification baseline, and fielded systems. The Instrument Set, Reconnaissance and Surveying, commonly called ENFIRE, is a digital suite of integrated commercial capabilities designed at the AGC to modernize the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information to support terrain shaping, reconnaissance, and construction management for U.S. Army and Marine Corps users.
What is geospatial?
Geospatial indicates data associated with a location.
In the United States, people use geospatial data to find their favorite restaurants, avoid traffic, and to get to the closest gas station.
he Army’s Geospatial Information System, or GIS, is as complex as the GIS in the latest smartphones. The difference is Army locations are not always mapped out like places in a commercial district. The terrain traveled by a brigade combat team is far less familiar territory.
The AGC does two things to help the military develop better location data – collect geospatial data and synchronize data standards.
Better location data means the military can capture it one time, then store and use information across military organizations.
This article appears in the 2020-2021 edition of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Building Strong®, Serving the Nation and the Armed Forces