Data

Data visualization Army style

open eye and data

The famous 19th century graph by Charles Joseph Minard showing Napoleon’s troops during the invasion of Russia is an intersection of data, illustration and storytelling. The graph depicts three distinct and major variables that factored into the eventual French defeat – troop levels, temperature and movement.

Even though the process of cartography is starkly different in the 21st century, the use of pictures and diagrams as visual data is still prevalent, at least for the U.S. Army.  

Data visualization is helping the Army cut through red tape by displaying information such as equipment counts in places all around the world, said Chuck Driessnack, vice president of missile defense at SAIC.

For example, Driessnack said that having a comprehensive view of the estimated $36 billion worth of equipment in Afghanistan is crucial as the U.S. continues to draw down its presence and bring equipment back home. 

napoleon map

Charles Joseph Minard, a French civil engineer, drew this map depicting Napoleon's 1812 advance into and retreat from Russia. According to scimaps.org, it 'may be the best statistical graphic ever drawn.'

"We have all this equipment that has accumulated over all those operations and they're sitting over in Afghanistan and we're coming out," said Driessnack, who was speaking at the Tableau Customer Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Monday.  Tableau Software specializes in making data digestible through visualization systems, and works with both the private and public sectors.

An example of SAIC’s visualization program is a map that shows how many Army ambulances are at locations around the globe.

"So what's common in these organizations is they have the data but they can't get arms around it," he said.

The other major benefit in implementing visualization systems is ensuring that personnel at every level receive consistent information through dashboards. This allows for better information sharing from data analysts all the way up to the upper echelons of Army leadership.

"I'm talking about from the four-star general all the way down to the analyst and they're seeing it all at the same time," Driessnack said. 

About the Author

Reid Davenport is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him on Twitter: @ReidDavenport.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Sun, Sep 15, 2013 Hugh McMullan Melbourne Australia

I was at Chuck's talk at Tableau, and it was as ground-breaking a presentation as I have seen.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group