Defense Logistics Agency Information Operations officials have devised a digital method to geographically plot the agency’s footprint of missions supporting Hurricane Sandy relief operations.
“This was a team effort,” said Navy Cmdr. David Cornelius, branch chief of DLA Information Operations’ Enterprise Solutions, Current Operations and Sustainment branch.
DLA Logistics Operations wanted a way to plot on a map 11 hospitals receiving fuel support in the impacted area, Cornelius explained. The effort eventually grew to encompass more than 200 gas stations and their status. This information was critical to providing an overview of how things looked and where support was most needed, he said.
DLA Information Operations team members determined that a slide was not the most effective method to present this information due the sheer volume of information needed for each location. After this limiting factor was considered, the team determined the best method to use was a resource that was already available, widely accessible and easy to manage on a fluid basis: Google Maps.
“Google Maps already has plot points, is interactive and accessible,” Cornelius said. “Accessibility became key.”
This method was chosen because it allowed personnel with any Web-based connection via computer, smartphone, etc., to view the current operations status for these locations from anywhere, he said.
“This option gave leadership the ability to see the needs and focus the mission’s efforts and priorities,” Cornelius emphasized. “That was the most important piece to this option.”
Once the project for gas stations was developed, the viability to use the same template to view all types of DLA support via different icons became clear.
Though this new overall mission view was essential to see the whole operating footprint, the process to gather the necessary information to compile a full informational picture was vast. The sheer volume of sites to verify status was substantial, Cornelius said, adding that much of the research involved finding basic information: telephone number, business name and point of contact.
“Out of the approximate 225 sites, about half we have made phone calls to in order to check statuses; the other half we are just trying to find phone numbers,” Cornelius said. “A lot of basic footwork went into this project.”
Currently, the map tracks more than 200 fueling sites, about 36 first responder locations, 30 liaison officers, 11 hospitals, three subsistence storage sites, two apartment complexes, two water pumps and several generator sites.
Since the DLA Logistics Operations template has been created, DLA Information Operations has also developed a Google Map template to assist DLA Energy in tracking the Colonial/Buckeye Pipeline system status in the New York and New Jersey area to help that organization better track pipeline status and mission support required in the pipeline region.
The information compiled has become a visual tool for leaders to use to determine mission needs, Cornelius said. He also said he believes this is the first time this specific method has been used for tracking DLA support of natural disaster recovery efforts.