Application Assists in Navigating Military Operations Amid Harsh Weather Conditions

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Detailed weather data is merging with traffic and other information at a Colorado military base to better execute base operations during periods of inclement weather.

The project, known as the Inclement Weather Decision Support App, aims to leverage smart city technology for the military to better understand what data streams are most valuable, and how they can be collected and used, said Natalie Myers, project manager for Inclement Weather Decision Support App at the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The inclement weather app brings together weather and traffic data, along with artificial intelligence and predictive modeling to shape base operations at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., during poor weather conditions. The move is part of a growing movement to turn to smart city technology and data-based decision-making to shape not only base operations, but similar decisions taking place in cities and counties every day.




“Military installations have a lot of data, so lets bring it together. And where can we complement that? Where can we supplement it with some of the gaps that we’ve seen? And then if we can take all that data and now couple it with AI and machine learning, all of that, hopefully we can provide a real-time monitoring and understanding of what’s going on on the installation, and so we can make better decisions from there,” said Myers.

The project — which was launched in March, and just received its first software update — is a joint effort among the ERDC, Fort Carson and US Ignite. US Ignite is serving as the technology provider responsible for the installation of the Intellisense Micro Weather Station at Fort Carson.

“Both the artificial intelligence and the user experience are being tested this summer, and we’re looking to test and deploy in an operational environment for the first time this winter,” US Ignite Smart Base Program Manager Kyle Compton said.

Weather conditions from the weather station are fed into the system which also receives data from the National Weather Service, as well as commuter information from sources like INRIX to take in roadway characteristics and traffic data. All of this information helps to shape a more nuanced and detailed understanding of how outside conditions might impact operations.

“Understanding weather data is critical for communities in public safety and emergency response scenarios,” said Compton. “This project looked at the critical nexus between winter weather and traffic safety; but weather data is equally important in wildfire prediction and mitigation, flood response, severe heat risk, air quality monitoring and numerous other scenarios.”

The project and lessons learned at Fort Carson could be translated to other cities as they seek to become more resilient in the face of climate change and extreme weather.

“There’s thousands of communities across the country that have to make the call of whether to close schools, offices or other services multiple times per year, and we see this supporting that decision in communities all across the country,” Compton said.

At Fort Carson, bad weather can prompt any number of questions that require quick and accurate decisions, Myers said.

“We’ve got bad weather coming in and we need to decide, ‘OK, do I close the base? Delay the start? Early dismissal? What do I do?’” she said. “That decision is pretty ad hoc. You can think of school districts, and it’s a lot of calls in the middle of the night.”

The project is not US Ignite’s first partnership with Fort Carson. The two have also worked on an autonomous shuttle project.

Skip Descant

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.

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