The DoD’s Infrastructure Readiness Challenge

1950s Technology Can’t Cut It Today

The Department of Defense (DoD) has a very big infrastructure maintenance challenge on its hands. The DoD manages more than 24.9 million acres of land worldwide, occupying 276,770 buildings covering over 2.2 billion square feet. All these locations and the structures within require ongoing inspection and maintenance to remain in a state of readiness. Unfortunately, today the DoD is addressing this challenge with methods straight out of the 1950s.

Currently the DoD sends out inspection teams to physically observe and evaluate every single facility in its massive global footprint – every building, tower, road, pipeline, etc. These teams are how the DoD determines what infrastructure is in need of repair, upgrade or replacement. It’s a Sisyphean task that is akin to asking a single “cable guy” to service a large city of customers by himself. It’s little wonder that the DoD itself rated 32 percent of its facilities worldwide in poor or failing condition.

The challenges to changing this obsolete status quo are threefold. The first is the budgetary climate. Budget cuts have reduced the funding for facility sustainment to 74 percent of requirements, compared to the goal of at least 90 percent. As described above, the second challenge is the inefficient, labor-intensive and costly way the DoD handles infrastructure management. Finally, the siloed fashion in which data is stored cannot possibly meet the demand for timely, accurate and integrated perspectives needed to provide actionable intelligence.

Clearly, this kind of “business as usual” approach is untenable. Current practices can never generate the insight required to power the effective decision making required to address these infrastructure challenges and accomplish the mission. The entire infrastructure management process of data capture, analysis and solution visualization needs to be transformed with new technologies.

Thankfully, new technologies offer a clear map road for transformational success. Drones (yes, drones!) can take data collection to an entirely new scale. Cloud computing can enable the DoD to efficiently store, share and manage the massive amounts of infrastructure information captured. And 3D/4D visualization tools that can present analytic findings in dashboards and other types of interactive displays, powering improved decision-making.  

The DoD’s infrastructure maintenance battle will never be won by using the data collection and analysis tactics of yesteryear. Until more advanced technologies are leveraged, the DoD’s facilities will never accomplish a total state of readiness. 

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