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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany


Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Geospatial Information Systems keeps an eye on base

By Art Powell | | November 26, 2009

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More than 40 people participated in third annual Geospatial Information Systems Day activities here Nov. 17 in the lobby of the Installation and Environment Division, Building 5501.

GIS is a fast growing technology which allows users to place data over terrain, and is a tool used by Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany managers to accomplish many tasks.

“The Marine Corps calls their GIS GeoFidelis, and we use it to manage all of the physical assets on base, such as roads, buildings, utilities and land,” said Damon Drake, manager, Installation Geospatial Information Services, Installation and Environment Division. “We manage the physical maps as well as details about, for instance, how a building is used, how many people are in it, furniture placement, utilities and anything that needs to be tracked. GIS is becoming the linchpin technology for the way the Marine Corps will do business in the future.”

At GIS Day, displays which demonstrated GIS uses here were displayed and the city of Albany’s planning department provided a presentation and the company which produces GIS software sent a representative to provide another presentation.

Activity aboard base, such as the location of traffic accidents or deer strikes, can be recorded and shown on maps using GIS technology.

“We can track traffic accident data such as deer-vehicle collisions on base and use it to look at ways to prevent or reduce hazardous areas,” Drake said.

GIS data is available to users with a usmc.mil e-mail address, but only from a government computer, it is not available from private computers.

The base Web portal is located at https:\\www.geofi-east.usmc.mil, where base maps may be viewed, plus stored GIS data.

While security concerns about the availability of base information has increased over the past several years, overhead imagery that is available from services such as Google Earth complicate the matter.

“Overhead images are available from numerous sources, but Google 3-D Earth images aren’t available because technicians have to physically visit a location to gather that data and they’re not allowed on military bases or other government installations,” Drake explained. “We’re increasingly more security conscious.”

Local employees whose job takes them around the base to maintain facilities use GIS on a regular basis to improve those maintenance procedures which leads to more efficient procedures, less expensive facilities and maintenance.

“We used GIS when we went out to perform preventative maintenance on all of the fire hydrants in the warehouse area,” said Mike Lowe, production controller, Public Works branch, Installation and Environment Division. “With GIS, we tracked where each hydrant was so we knew the travel time between them and that let us determine how many we could service in a day and a week and a month. Also, we use maps in production control to locate buildings so we could tell our workers in the shops area where they are going for a job. Not everybody knows all of the building numbers on base, so GIS and maps really help.”

Gathering GIS data for a database is an on-going process. Lowe explained that workers who are servicing heating and air units record data that is useful in predicting future maintenance schedules and needs.

GIS technology isn’t new, but is becoming ever more useful for various applications and the software is easier to use.

“It’s a lot easier and a lot more user friendly now,” said Martha Ortega, GIS analyst, Installation Geospatial Information Services, Installation and Environment Division, who has worked in the field for approximately 20 years. “With today’s computers, it’s much faster. Years ago, cases we do quickly now would have taken a room full of computers to process.”


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