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NEWS | Dec. 15, 2022

AFIMSC analytics team refines tools leaders use to prioritize investments

By Joe Bela Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

A data analytics team with the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland is refining the analytics tools that help Air Force leaders prioritize their most critical mission support areas and determine funding requirements.

“Our long-term plan called for developing automated processes that could efficiently collect, store and analyze an immense amount of data from across the Department of the Air Force,” said Daniel Clark, chief of AFIMSC Analytics. “Today, our data scientists support two lines of effort. They provide core support to AFIMSC’s directorates and enterprise managers, and they work a special projects area of varying duration, ranging from 6-12 months, where stakeholders can request data science support for their hot projects.”

Many projects are associated with the Installation Health Assessment tool, a cloud-based analytics system designed to provide commanders with the information they need to effectively manage installations. The data scientists collaborate with stakeholders in the installation and mission support arena to help determine the best way to collect and analyze the data sets they need to accurately assess their processes and programs.

Initially developed and launched by AFIMSC in August 2018, IHA was designed to forecast facility and infrastructure funding requirements. By April 2019, it featured 12 dashboards that supported six projects. Since then, the cloud-based platform has grown exponentially.

Today, with more than 3,690 users online, stakeholders have access to the holistic site picture they need to assess performance in areas that include Airmen and family services, base communications, deployment and distribution, combat and command support functions, environmental quality, facility operations, airfield management, real property sustainment and recapitalization, fire and emergency services, force protection and security, base housing and dormitories, among others.

AFIMSC uses an analytics platform called the VAULT that serves as a data “lake,” which allows stakeholders across the I&MS enterprise to collaborate with each other vertically and across the enterprise.

One of the biggest successes using enterprise-wide analytics resulted in the signing of the Infrastructure Investment Strategy in FY19.

“Using Air Force-wide civil engineering data, we were able to model the current and future state of Air Force infrastructure across the enterprise. This allowed us to demonstrate the different approaches to maintaining, replacing and divesting Air Force infrastructure,” said Matthew Dawson, one of close to 60 contracted data scientists on the AFIMSC Analytics Team.

“In the end, the different models helped the Air Force secure an additional $2.1 billion in the planning, programming and budgeting process,” said data scientist James Kittleman.

Data integration is another example of how “big data” is benefiting the Air Force. The AFIMSC IHA team relies heavily on the power of data integration to develop impactful and meaningful analytical tools.

“Too often data is siloed, making it challenging to gain insight into a program or problem set,” said data scientist Valerie Velez. “Oftentimes, the data needed to solve a particular problem is cross-domained. With big data, we’re able to combine condition data from one database with work order management data from another database to help people make informed prioritization decisions without having to spend time pulling reports from multiple sources.”

With timely data refresh rates, customers can trust the data they’re getting is relevant and reliable, Kittleman said.

“At AFIMSC IHA, we believe when data gets integrated, that’s when you really start to see the power of big data,” he added.

Data is one of an organization’s most valuable assets, Clark said.

“When managed and used properly, analytics can help an organization generate insights and make informed decisions that advance its operational goals,” he said. “Tools like the Installation Health Assessment and others put cutting-edge business intelligence capabilities at our fingertips, enabling interactive data visualizations that enhance awareness, provide a template for understanding risk, and enable senior leaders with limited resources to make sound and timely decisions.”