The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center is improving data-driven decision making processes across the Air and Space Forces. The center hosted a virtual Big Data Summit June 15-17 to share its data management strategy, vision and ongoing efforts with key stakeholders.
“It’s no surprise that in the last two to three years, the way we use and how much we rely on data has exploded exponentially across our enterprise, so it’s incumbent upon us to get together and take a look at where we are and where we want to go,” said Maj. Gen. Tom Wilcox, AFIMSC commander. “By taking an enterprise approach, we can have standards to our data management and make real-time, relevant information accessible to our Air and Space Force decision-makers.”
The summit’s namesake, Big Data, refers to processes that help interpret the large volumes of information gathered and stored in the modern day IT environment. AFIMSC’s Data and Analytics Working Group has been on the forefront of the Department of the Air Force’s Big Data movement since its beginning, Eileen Vidrine, Department of Air Force chief data officer, explained during her opening remarks.
“Two years ago, the Chief Data Office was brand new. We needed somebody to partner with to show the value of data and be part of this ‘digital transformation’,” Vidrine said. “It was AFIMSC that had the vision and drive to make data available, accurate and actionable to every installation commander across the department.”
AFIMSC was one of the first agencies to utilize the Visible, Accessible, Understandable, Linked and Trusted, or VAULT, data platform visualization tools to build its Installation Health Assessment, saving the Air Force months of work and providing consolidated data analysis to commanders about their installations’ health.
“With AFIMSC’s continued partnership, more than 3,000 Airmen log on daily to VAULT to use and leverage data at the speed of relevancy,” Vidrine added.
Col. Ernest Vasquez, Secretary of the Air Force Chief Data Office senior director and chief architect, noted there is still more work to do to consolidate the large volumes of information across the Air Force and make it into usable data.
“There’s lots of data out there in the form of emails, presentations, spreadsheets, reports, texts, etc.,” Vasquez said. “We’re trying to get it in one place and make it available to all commanders, and we want to make sure the data is relevant and good quality, so we need to look at how we ingest data.”
To achieve this, AFIMSC and the Chief Data Office are looking to industry to incorporate best practices to develop and refine Big Data platforms.
“There are tools Fortune 20 companies have been using for a while and we want to follow suit,” Vasquez said. “Even with our added security protocols, we’re figuring out how we can bring them on board and make sure they are safe and secure.”
In addition to AFIMSC’s data consolidation efforts, the summit included updates on Enterprise-IT-as-a-Service, CDO Cyperspace, Basing and Logistics Analytics Data Environment, and IT strategies from AFIMSC’s primary subordinate units.
Michael Osborn, AFIMSC’s chief information officer, shared his vision for the agency’s data strategy: support DoD and Air Force data efforts, establish AFIMSC data governance structure, advocate for AFIMSC data sharing, support data-aware organizations, and provide Airmen tactical advantage through data.
The three-day summit concluded with breakout sessions including a data analytics working group, governance of civil engineering IT and the VAULT platform, data literacy and future capabilities.
“These initiatives and efforts are aligned with DoD and Air Force IT and cybersecurity strategies,” said Marc Vandeveer, AFIMSC’s chief innovation officer. “And now with these tools, we’re ready to take the next steps to align data sources to help our action officers across the enterprise make informed and confident decisions.”