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When a crisis hits, timing is everything. Therefore accurate information is critical to a commander’s situational awareness. This is true also in the civilian sphere when decisions have to be taken in real-time. An information-sharing technology used by the US Army against terrorist threats is now also monitoring the spread of COVID-19.
The Joint Analytic Real-time Virtual Information Sharing System (JARVISS) Army software is designed to target criminal activity and natural disaster information in and around Army installations and stand-alone facilities. With the emergence of the COVID-9 pandemic, the software shifted its mission to also help leaders track the virus’ impact on installation readiness, training and recruiting.
“JARVISS was designed to compile information against any threat against the Army,” the program manager, James Allen said, so using data synthesis, the only real objective was to add another information layer that tracks COVID-centric data.
The desktop and mobile app can store unclassified Army data and open-source threat information from over 80,000 sources, including social media, news media, blogs and government agencies. It then translates the holistic information into actionable data to help commanders make real-time decisions.
When the CORONA pandemic became a full-on pandemic, by March 2020, the commanders needed the additional data information layer. “If (commanders) need to bring their Soldiers in from off-post locations, or in some cases keep Soldiers on a military installation because the outbreak is just too high,” “JARVISS helped make those decisions.”
The demand for the software is a case-by-case basis, Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, provost marshal general explained. For example, in early hotspots like Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, commanders responded sooner because of the high rate of infections there versus other parts of the country.
It’s also used in hardest hit COVID-19 locations. It’s used by the National Guard, which has thousands of troops across the country and other state and federal agencies. They are using JARVISS to track the spread of the virus, Allen said.
“As the Army phases into a steady state of operations, JARVISS has the capability of assessing the COVID-19 threat,” Vereen said. “It’s providing commanders with the tools needed to make appropriate decisions, and balancing readiness with the health and safety of the force is critical to our success.”