News>Hanscom program finds savings while providing critical imagery
Satellite imagery captured by Hanscom's Eagle Vision program shows the town of Moore, Okla., with the Plaza Towers Elementary School in the center, before the May 22, 2013, tornado that devastated the region. The next image shows the same area following the tornado. This imagery can be used by first responders for disaster relief efforts. The program office is conducting a cost-savings review to find savings within the program while ensuring the imagery is still available when needed. (Courtesy image)
Satellite imagery captured by Hanscom's Eagle Vision program shows the town of Moore, Okla., with the Plaza Towers Elementary School in the center, after the May 22, 2013, tornado that devastated the region. This imagery can be used by first responders for disaster relief efforts. The program office is conducting a cost-savings review to find savings within the program while ensuring the imagery is still available when needed. (Courtesy image)
6/7/2013 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- A Hanscom-managed program that continually provides critical imagery to warfighters and first responders is also reducing costs.
Eagle Vision consists of five deployable satellite downlink stations that collect, process and distribute commercial satellite imagery in near-real-time. The data not only can be used to highlight areas of interest for U.S. or coalition warfighters in the field, but for disaster response efforts.
"As soon as the tornadoes struck in Moore, Oklahoma, the team went to work," said Capt. Chris Berardi, program manager. "Despite being in the middle of a tech refresh, where system equipment was being upgraded, the team turned their attention to ensuring FEMA, the National Guard and NORTHCOM got the required imagery they needed."
And although cloud cover hampered some efforts, data was provided within 72 hours of the initial event. Berardi emphasized that the commercial imagery that is provided can be freely shared between organizations.
And when a tornado touched down once again in Oklahoma on May 31, the program office immediately put their assets to work again. Usable imagery denoting the path of the tornado, as well as the extent of flooding in the area, was provided to first responders within 48 hours of the event.
In addition to ongoing military applications for the imagery, the team is also currently providing support to those battling wildfires in New Mexico. The U.S. Forest Service requested EV imagery after fires broke out near Tres Lagunas, N. M., also on May 31. Currently the fires have burned approximately 10,000 acres and are only minimally contained. Before and after imagery was provided within days.
According to program officials, the organizations often use the imagery for damage assessment.
"The different types of imagery, such as high resolution electro optical imagery and synthetic aperture radar, we can provide are helpful as well," Berardi said.
The tech refresh that Berardi refers to is part of the largest upgrade in the Eagle Vision system's history. New satellite constellations are being added, antenna upgrades are being done and new shelters are being provided to house the equipment.
Although the majority of this work is being funded by the National Guard, Berardi says the team is always looking for cost savings.
The program office performed an analysis on all Eagle Vision satellite providers.
"We needed to determine if what we were getting was worth what we were paying out," Berardi said.
The results led to the elimination of one constellation of satellites, for yearly savings of $610,000.
They also looked at redundant capabilities. The team was able to identify some redundancies within the software architecture and processing capabilities.
"Sequestration is causing everyone to look at what they're spending very carefully," said Berardi. "We need to ensure we're still able to provide the necessary imagery but do so in a more efficient and effective manner."
Eagle Vision is reviewing all current and planned acquisitions to determine if other cost savings are available.
"We are looking at all options, including cost avoidance analyses, to identify further cost reduction opportunities," Berardi added. "Ultimately, these are savings for the taxpayer."
He stressed that the cost savings initiatives would not negatively impact the program office's ability to respond when needed.
"We know how important the capability to provide this imagery is," Berardi said.