In addition to the dirt and water the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moves around the world for its projects, it also has to shift a considerable amount of data.
As Chief Information Officer Dovarious Peoples described it, the Corps has “terabytes on top of terabytes of data” from its financial systems to the Army geospatial community.
“We conduct a lot of inventory and consume. We conduct a lot of inventory and use information consumed by each individual program element,” he said on Federal Monthly Insights — Data Management. “And we also use our repositories as well. That’s how we identify identify a lot of our authoritative data sources — through repositories for the various types of information.”
The Corps has a unique mission in that it is civil, military and disaster relief-oriented, Peoples said. And those three entities must communicate to collaborate.
“So with that being said, we tie all of those things together in order to be able to have some type of input-output for a lot of our users,” he said on Federal Drive with Tom Temin. “So we actually categorize a lot of our information on demand. And we associate that with various service levels. So from a storage standpoint, the data is always accessible, is always readily available for use. We have the enterprise stores concept that we provide the storage capabilities to the enterprise, to where we can allow everybody to have ease of access and ease of use.”
The Army’s data strategy is a framework that allows USACE to align the organization looking at data from authoritative data sources. Peoples said the question then becomes how can the Corps use the data from its programs of record to make more informed decisions? So the data strategy puts the organization on a path to find talent and tie in more “creative” elements including artificial intelligence and futuristic capabilities.
“We want to be able to ensure that the data is consumable, regardless of what form it’s in. So we’re assessing the various repositories, assessing the various sources, and we’re trying to consolidate or collapse our enterprise to begin to pull from those respective repositories of what is authoritative and begin to put out an output that’s consumable by the end user,” Peoples said.
This has a human capital element. Peoples said to get individuals to better understand data use and consumption, USACE is working with the Army CIO/G-6 to use training courses and partnerships to help employees grow. He said data as we know it is a relatively green concept that comes with a major learning curve.
“How do we enable the workforce to be more of a 2028 type of workforce? That means there’s a lot of technology we have to ensure that our team understands. That means there are a lot of training courses that we have to send them to whether that’s through online learning, or whether that’s in person learning as well,” he said. “But really investing into the employees is something that we’re doing. Because if not, then that means the data strategy we’re trying to put in place will be flattened.”