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‘Dashboard' boosts visibility of readiness

Nov. 20, 2012 - 09:48AM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 20, 2012 - 09:48AM  |  
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Updated software will use a "dashboard" combining various sources of data to help senior leaders, commanders and action officers understand the readiness of nearly any Army unit.

The new version of the Enterprise Management Decision Support system 12.0 goes beyond the resourcing data that traditionally fills it to include "a great deal more" data associated with readiness, said Lt. Col. Bobby Saxon, EMDS program manager within the G-3/5/7 (operations, plans and policy) directorate.

"We were counting bodies and pieces of equipment and telling you about training events, but we weren't doing as good a job at relaying the actual readiness of the unit," he said. "It now paints a more holistic picture of a unit."

EMDS, accessible on the military's secure Internet, had a major update in September and has had incremental updates since then, Saxon said.

The system pulls data from 20 authoritative data sources across all Army components, to display information about individual Army units using a mix of text and graphics. That includes information about personnel such as their rank, military occupational specialty, duty status and training level.

Unit information includes equipment readiness levels and the locations of soldiers and materiel.

The combined information is meant to allow leaders and action officers the ability to evaluate a unit's readiness, personnel, equipment and training.

"A lot of this data is available to them already, but it's in many different systems," Saxon said.

The new version pulls data from several more sources than before, and it also digs deeper for more data from established sources, Saxon said.

Also, the database now applies business rules that put the data in context.

"We would get a bunch of raw data, and that data might tell one thing, but once you started applying the context of the current picture and where the units were in the [Army Force Generation] pool, it started painting a slightly different picture," he said.

EMDS also takes data to project a future operating picture, showing what units will be available in years to come. The idea is to help leaders create accurate budget requests based on projected future needs.

"As the political environment changes, as the guidance changes, as the situation on the ground changes, that data is constantly fed into our system and it helps to change how those projections look," Saxon said. "We like to say it's in ‘near real-time.' "

A growing interest in "unstructured" data fueled the system's new ability to find pieces of information that do not appear in fixed databases, such as text messages, pictures and commanders' comments.

"We have expanded the ability of our users to dig into the data and let the data tell them the story," Saxon said.

The system is continuing to evolve since its offering in 2010, and Saxon said he expects the next iteration, in 2013, to include even more granular readiness data.

The developers are working with the Army personnel directorate to provide operators with that data.

"When you start getting into conversations between personnel and operators, they'll have the same types of data," Saxon said. "We're developing the requirements for that capability now."

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