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AFIMSC, AF Chief Data Office enable readiness through cloud-based visualization tool

By Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs | Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs | Sept. 6, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Innovation Office and the Air Force Chief Data Office successfully built AFIMSC’s highly successful Installation Health Assessments using the Tableau visualization tool hosted on the Air Force’s Visible, Accessible, Understandable, Linked, and Trusted, or VAULT, Data Platform.

This effort saved the Air Force months of intense labor and provided more accurate and actionable data analysis for Air Force leadership about installation health, according to CDO and AFIMSC officials.

The VAULT Platform is the data office-sponsored platform that provides cyber-secure, cloud-based tools to connect, find, share and learn from Air Force data. It was implemented to be fully compliant with the Air Force Data Services Reference Architecture the Air Force released in February 2019. The AFDSRA provides a blueprint for AF organizations to implement platforms that are able to share data across the enterprise.

In August 2018, AFIMSC hosted the Tableau interactive visualization dashboards they developed for their IHAs, which are AFIMSC’s framework to deliver installation and mission support, or I&MS, capabilities more efficiently and cost-effectively.

“IHAs analyze 14 traditional I&MS mission areas over a $17 billion portfolio; objectively measuring performance, sustainment, and recapitalization,” said Marc Vandeveer, AFIMSC Chief of Innovation. “The assessments also quantify risk-to-mission and risk-to-force analysis, and the findings inform the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting Execution, or PPBE, process with actionable and predictive analysis.”

Because of the nature of the data involved, AFIMSC needed a GovCloud Impact Level 4 (IL4) platform to publish, however GovCloud is not matured enough within the Air Force to support.

“I heard SAF/CO was developing an IL4 Air Force Data Platform in the GovCloud, and had a liaison officer, Col. Ernest Vasquez, stationed at JBSA,” Vandeveer said.

After he met with Vasquez, Vandeveer engaged Eileen Vidrine, Air Force Chief Data Officer and Col Charles “Chuck” Destefani, Deputy Chief Data Officer and Chief Architect, to secure approval to have the Tableau tool implemented into the VAULT Platform.

According to Vandeveer, by September 2018, Tableau was in the planning stages to be implemented into the VAULT Platform, and by December a test environment was fully built out and ready. Seven months later, Tableau was live in the VAULT Platform GovCloud, which by that time upgraded to an IL5 environment. 

 “We were more than happy to assist in breaking down barriers and demonstrating the art of the possible,” Vasquez said.

Prior to utilizing Tableau and Air Force data on the VAULT Platform, information needed for an IHA was gathered by building slides of the required facility data. The work was mundane, the data was often quickly outdated, and the overall effort required numerous hours of labor, Vasquez added.

“This platform gives Wing and Group Commanders operational capability in real time to drive data-driven decisions about their installations,” Vandeveer said.

After linking authoritative data to Tableau, AFIMSC began to conduct IHAs, starting with infrastructure modeling. Using a series of color-coded visualizations (green = low to no mission impact, yellow = moderate mission impact, red = high mission impact) Tableau depicted the status of 55,000 infrastructure assets for the entire Air Force -- down to individual buildings.

The data can be leveraged with projected funding and installation investment strategies to allow for predictive degradation modeling across the next 30 years. AFIMSC can instantly show leadership the effects different levels of funding would have on mission readiness at the MAJCOM, installation, and facility asset class level – allowing leadership the ability to see where failure could occur before it actually does. This attribute can be leveraged to support PPBE with a series of near-mid-far courses of action.

Tableau was successfully used to support other components of IHAs, including child development center predictive demographics, and basing and bed down capacity analysis. The latter is particularly relevant considering ongoing concerns with severe weather effects on Air Force assets. Using available data on other bases that could provide adequate mission support, the analysis was able to quickly present F-22 relocation options following hurricane damage to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

“The Chief Data Office is working hard to enable Air Force wide access to essential tools and data sets to demonstrate the power of data in operational decision making,” Destefani said. “Supporting AFIMSC in delivering visualization as a service through Tableau in an accredited cloud environment is 100 percent in alignment with our strategic goals.” 

The Tableau capability of the VAULT Platform is available enterprise wide; over 400 accounts have been established since April 2019, with a strong demand signal to grow into the thousands, according to Destefani.

For more information about SAF/CO and to request access to the VAULT Platform, visit https://org2.eis.af.mil/sites/13007/Pages/DD_form_2875.aspx.

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