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Joint effort mapping system aims to save time, lives in emergencies

Joint effort mapping system aims to save time, lives in emergencies

The National Guard Bureau’s Joint Intelligence Directorate and the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command have developed the Domestic Operations Awareness and Assessment Response Tool, or DAART, a web-based program that combines mapping data and video feeds from overhead aircraft and satellite imagery. The technology was used last year while soldiers with the California Army National Guard’s 578th Brigade Engineer Battalion and 40th Brigade responded to wildfires. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army National Guard)

 

A new web-based program that taps into terrain and mapping information from the U.S. Geologic Survey, satellite feeds and overhead aircraft is being lauded as a game-changer for the National Guard and other agencies responding during an emergency.

The National Guard Bureau’s Joint Intelligence Directorate and the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command developed the Domestic Operations Awareness and Assessment Response Tool, or DAART. The NGB Joint Intelligence Directorate was recently awarded the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s Government Achievement Award in recognition of the program.

“I kinda feel like a proud dad,” said Thomas Merrill, head of the NGB’s Joint Intelligence Plans and Policy branch. “(The award) says to me that I’ve got a really great team who was working on it.”

The program brings information from disparate sources together in one place to paint a clear picture of what’s happening on the ground during an incident. The program is based on an earlier web-based system, but it adds the possibility of using real-time imagery and adds interactive features that speed communications between responding agencies.

“You’re bringing all sorts of information in, and it displays it geospatially,” Merrill said. “Any operation that you’re doing, you can see right now, either in real-time or near real-time what’s going on.”

Instant information means Guard members can respond faster in emergency situations, Merrill said. Commanders can then assess rapidly changing conditions such as road closures in a large-scale flooding incident.

That gives Guard members the ability to respond faster in emergency situations, said Merrill. The program allows commanders to assess rapidly changing conditions, such as road closures in a large-scale flooding incident.

“Those who are responding, they’ll know which routes are still open and which ones to avoid,” Merrill said. Most people are saved in the first 72 hours after an emergency or catastrophic event occurs, he said.

“The faster that we can get in there to get to people who are caught in voids or who are definitely in distress — the elderly or those who are isolate — the more people who can be saved,” he said.

State and local authorities responding to incidents can also use the DAART, he said.

“It really highlights the Guard’s ability to harness technology at the most local level,” Merrill said. “It puts the Guard member at street level, if need be, along with the sheriff’s deputy or the local police and they’re all looking at the same thing.”

The program has been used in a variety of missions already, Merrill said, including at the presidential inauguration in January and during last year’s wildfire response operations in California. The program was instrumental in helping rescuers find a lost hiker during the wildfire response.

The team is working on ways to improve DAART, he said.

“The next step is to improve what we already have. We’re taking requirements from the field and prioritizing them, looking at budgetary constraints and how to help them with missions. We have some longer-range things we’ve been working on for a while that will help streamline the process.”

Merrill said the improvements would increase capability while balancing fiscal requirements.

“This will save money. It will save time and it will save lives,” he said.

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