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    A GIS Solution for the Military’s Cemetery Operations

    A GIS Solution for the Military’s Cemetery Operations

    Courtesy Photo | Spc. Zachary Wright, an Engineer Soldier with the 512th Engineer Detachment walks...... read more read more

    “Secure from worldly chances and mishaps! Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells, Here grow no damned grudges; here are no storms, No noise, but silence and eternal sleep: In peace and honor rest you here, my sons!” Titus Andronicus, Act I, Scene I, William Shakespeare.

    In 2011, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) approached the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Army Geospatial Center (AGC) to assist in the geospatial data collection of almost 300,000 graves. The goal of the collection effort was to digitize over 150 years of cemetery data and modernize the operations, management and accountability of burial locations.

    Leveraging AGC’s Center of Excellence for Geospatial Technologies, technical and subject matter experts were assembled to assess the complex, resource-intensive ANC processes required to support the daily operations of funeral services and grounds maintenance of the 624 acres, while managing the extensive records for the individuals interred within the cemetery.

    ANC and AGC worked with stakeholders to identify requirements and develop an integrated enterprise geospatial solution to synchronize and display a common operating picture.

    Employing the latest geospatial technologies, GPS coordinates were collected for each headstone, memorial and monument with 2-3” accuracy. Photographs were taken of the front and back of every headstone to support the validation and accountability for each location. The GPS points and photos were later incorporated into ANC’s mobile app, ANC Explorer, to provide families and visitors a way to view headstones of those buried at Arlington on their mobile devices, web browsers, and kiosks located at the cemetery.

    ANC is now the standard for geospatial cemetery management for operations and accountability. In early 2018, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) partnered with ANC and AGC to support a data collection pilot at two ABMC sites, Corozal American Cemetery in Panama and Normandy American Cemetery in France. ABMC manages and operates 26 permanent U.S. military cemeteries, and 29 federal memorials, monuments and markers in 16 countries around the world.

    The intent of ABMC pilot program was to capture interment data and headstone photos, however, the geographic locations of the two sites required the team to implement innovative collection technologies to reduce collection times, minimize overall costs and provide the data in formats that would be easy for ABMC to utilize and maintain.

    Staff from the AGC Military Construction, Engineering, and Survey Support Branch (MCESB) and Product Director Combat Terrain Information Systems (PD CTIS) (a division under Project Manager Terrestrial Sensors, and a branch of the Program Executive Office, Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO-IEW&S) merged the unique capabilities of Instrument Set, Reconnaissance and Surveying (ENFIRE) and Global Position System-Survey (GPS-S) to capture terrain information.

    Matthew Staley and Natalie Martinez-Vega (MCESB/PD CTIS) proposed combining their highly modernized suite of products with traditional surveying methods to include a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) backpack system, (a prototype model for data collection for the future Army Surveying and Combat Engineering community) to collect and process data quickly.

    LiDAR works by sending out a beam of light and measuring the time it takes to return to the sensor. It does this expediently, with extreme precision and seamlessly works with ENFIRE and GPS-S.

    George Ohanian, AGC MCESB branch chief noted it provides “the ability to apply proven and easy to use solutions allows for rapid data collection and analysis without expending additional dollars to solve a complex problem. Our focus was to creatively use our tools so that we could demonstrate the power of integrated modern technologies to perform multiple types of terrain capture in real time.”

    In June 2018, ABMC met with ANC, AGC and members from the 512th Engineer Detachment to apply PD CTIS capabilities to collect data in Panama with PD CTIS equipment. A smartphone was included in the project to utilize a Portrait mode feature within the device’s camera to emphasize the headstone and blur any objects in the background that would diminish the overall quality of the photo.

    The on-site team walked the cemetery to capture all terrain features with the LiDAR backpack and processed data in real-time on a ruggedized ENFIRE laptop and collected headstone points with GPS-S.

    Following the Panama effort, ANC, AGC and ABMC met again, in Normandy to replicate the same techniques. While the primary objective of the project was to collect headstone locations and photos, the team was able to include terrain features such as trees, roads, curbs, monuments and other man-made features.

    Strategic use of the data will allow ABMC to support their existing and future requirements for cemetery operations and maintenance, and expand their public and educational outreach. The resulting data products created proved the PD CTIS capabilities with inter-agency support could be applied to multiple missions based on their open architecture and commercial off the shelf (COTS) configuration, providing an excellent return on investment for many communities.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.28.2018
    Date Posted: 09.28.2018 10:55
    Story ID: 294802
    Location: COROZAL, PA 

    Web Views: 107
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