A recent cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between the Navy and Esri has underscored the importance of GIS and geospatial technology for command of the seas.
The alliance between the company and Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NAVMETOCCOM) will focus on bringing together the vast amounts of sea and weather data collected by the Navy with spatial analytics and enterprise collaboration technology. The goal is to enable commanders to make faster decisions by better incorporating conditions directly into their operational plans, as part of a Navy concept called “battlespace on demand” (BonD).
The three-year CRADA establishes a working relationship between Esri and NAVMETOCCOM, which has been an Esri software customer for more than a decade. With the new CRADA, Esri personnel will see naval oceanography work firsthand and potentially develop additional applications as they collaborate with Navy operational oceanography modeling experts at the Naval Oceanographic Office, NAVMETOCCOM’s largest subordinate activity.
Geospatial information is already a key part of the command’s mission support to naval forces, according to Dr. William H. Burnett, NAVMETOCCOM’s deputy commander and technical director.
“We employ a variety of GIS COTS and GOTS tools to perform geospatial layer production of environmental features and phenomena, visualization products and services, multidomain data fusion bringing together intelligence, command and control and meteorological and oceanographic information, and mission-based multicriteria analysis to support warfighter planning and execution decision processes. We see geospatial technologies, processes and skills as key for dynamic integration of meteorology and oceanography into a collaborative geospatial reasoning process,” Burnett said.
Indeed, while the ocean surface may be relatively flat, its dynamic and diverse characteristics are well-suited to benefit from GIS technology, noted Curt Hammill, Navy C2 account manager for Esri.
“Bathymetry helps define underwater operations. Features on the bottom such as underwater cables or pipelines are of interest for naval operations,” he said. “On the surface, commercial ship operations are vital features to understand threats of smuggling and piracy. Areas of high wind and waves, as well as atmospheric conditions, are dynamic. They impact whether a ship or aircraft might be able to perform its mission. Along a coast or inland on waterways, even richer, more dynamic data needs to be considered to help commanders in planning and executing operations.”
BonD, Burnett explained, is an operational construct that organizes the naval oceanography enterprise’s mission, assets and processes into four tiers. It calls for measuring and processing environmental observations to feed predictive models to yield impacts to naval platforms, sensors, weapons and missions to ultimately deliver actionable recommendations and courses of action for the warfighter.
“At its core, BonD is about organizing a successful approach to managing data, transforming it into relevant products that inform and speed any commander’s operational decisions,” Hammill said. “Situational awareness as the Navy defines it includes understanding as many aspects of the operational environment as possible, and then exploiting that understanding into decision superiority. Since all of the decision-worthy data has place and time attributes, a set of strong spatial-temporal analytics powers this process. GIS is the science and technology to effect this transformation.”
Under the CRADA, Navy oceanographers and Esri’s defense solutions team will cooperate on 10 objectives that will improve Esri’s COTS systems while also serving to improve geospatial reasoning in the oceans in support of naval warfare.
The objectives include:
• Establishing a prototype lab at Stennis Space Center, Miss., using the ArcGIS platform for geospatially enabling naval oceanography.
• Creating an Intelligent Decision Map (IDMap) proof of concept to assist in maritime decision-making. An IDMap combines data and analytics in a reproducible way. It still allows a specialist to inject local patterns and reasoned expertise into the analysis, and is robust enough to answer a commander’s “what if” questions authoritatively.
• Designing a sustainable training/education plan to enable NAVMETOCCOM personnel to deploy and use the GIS capabilities in their operations.
• Testing key Open Geospatial Consortium application standards and profiles for ocean and atmospheric analysis and decision-making. ♦
- Issue: 8
- Volume: 12