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AFIMSC tools deliver data-driven solutions across DAF

  • Published
  • By Malcolm McClendon
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s Innovation and Improvement Division is transforming the way Airmen do business by integrating cutting-edge data-prep and data-visualization tools across the Department of the Air Force.

The AFIMSC team is providing the resources decision-makers need with platforms like the PRISM project that provides snapshots of installation support metrics, ATLAS basing and beddown tool, manpower and personnel models, and resource management allocation models, said Dan Clark, data analytics officer in the AFIMSC Studies, Analyses, Assessments and Lessons Learned Directorate, or A9.

The tools provide the holistic site picture commanders need in real time to assess performance and make decisions across multiple installation and mission support areas, he said, adding that AFIMSC offers a training program to help units use the tools effectively.

“Our program equips teams with access and the knowledge to utilize cloud-based collaboration tools like Tableau server, data analytics automation and geospatial data,” Clark said.

AFIMSC kicked off the program in 2016 and has since trained more than 3,000 Airmen across the Department of the Air Force in virtual and in-person classes. The center offers more than 20 classes each month that cover all Tableau licenses and skill levels with new training opportunities being fielded every quarter, said Stephen Tickal, instructional systems designer. 

In each intermediate Tableau class, students can pick their own data from among the plethora of datasets currently used for training purposes.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to gain insights on how to attack their specific data analytics challenges,” Tickal said. 

Since AFIMSC’s inception, data has been important to the center’s mission, said Jadee Purdy, AFIMSC A9 director. 

“Our superpower is the enterprise-wide ability we have to share what we're doing and scale it across the Department of the Air Force,” she said. “Our other superpower is integration. We want to take data that has historically been on one or two laptops, or maybe on a SharePoint site, and put it out there in the cloud where everybody can access it to increase transparency and communication.”

She encourages Airmen and Guardians to use the predictive visualization tools AFIMSC offers, not only to enhance their job performance effectively and efficiently but also to enable AFIMSC to leverage and share the data across the installation and mission support enterprise, she added.

Last year, a team of AFIMSC data-prep and data-visualization instructors traveled to Patrick Space Force Base in Florida, Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson in Alaska, and Kadena Air Base in Japan to deliver training on the software tools.

“Kadena has a significant number of degraded facilities. In many cases these old facilities are failing via concrete spalling, which presents a significant safety concern,” said Col. Justin Morrison, 18th Civil Engineer Group commander. “We used the training to help us model data we have collected, track facilities of concern and even predict which facilities have spalling that has not yet been discovered. We can now prioritize facility inspections to identify safety concerns and where repairs are required.”

This training is worth the investment. The Kadena team is using its installation data in ways not possible even a few years ago to help inform decisions, he added.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center, a subordinate unit of AFIMSC, also saw improvements by using the data preparation and visualization tools. 

“AFCEC eliminated a six-week data collection effort by applying the power of robotics process automation,” Clark said. “The task to receive, edit, collate and report has been scripted into computer language and runs behind the scenes. Now, AFCEC can conduct this six-week data call in a few hours.”

The program and tools are also helping base teams advocate for resources in a fiscally challenging environment. 

“The facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization, and demolition program degradation program applied these tools and demonstrated the entire built infrastructure of the DAF could be modelled onto a single screen,” Clark explained. “With the financial data applied, we were able to show a time-driven analysis of how poor the entire DAF infrastructure would become at current fiscal realities, with a total of over 55,000 buildings and all their subcomponents visualized on one screen.” 

The end-result was a $1.7 billion increase to FSRM funding levels that year, he added.

The program anticipates growing a presence in other cloud-based collaborative platforms, such as ADVANA, ENVISION and BLADE, and pursuing the increasing momentum in the MS365 app spaces.

AFIMSC aims to equip Airmen with the necessary tools, training, and support to foster continuous growth in data literacy and provide leaders at all levels with insightful dashboards and installation health assessments to enable informed decision-making and improve installation and mission support health, Purdy said.

“The ‘what's in it for you,’ is a lot fewer manual updates and no more data calls to installations or individuals. This really is an opportunity for Airmen and leaders at every level to increase efficiency and spend less manual time manipulating the data if we got it all in one place,” she added.

For more information about AFIMSC’s data-prep and visualization training, email