MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia -- After several years in development, the Marine Corps civil affairs community is getting smartphones armed with software that will streamline civil-military assistance operations.
Trading pen and paper for smartphone and stylus, the Marine Corps Civil Information Management System, called MARCIMS, will allow civil affairs units to automate their entire process for data collection, planning, and reporting during disaster relief or humanitarian assistance missions.
As a former civil affairs officer turned acquisition professional, Maj. Mike Ohleger has been working on the project for the past two years at Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Virginia.
“We used to have to do assessments by hand,” Ohleger said Oct. 6 during the handoff of some 60 kits to the Marine Corps Civil-Military Operations School. “For civil affairs it means taking an outdated, manual system, automating it and bringing it to the cloud.”
The app was originally developed through science and technology funding from the Office of Naval Research.
MARCIMS enables users to share, organize, visualize and analyze field-collected data. The data can then easily be shared not only with the civil affairs community, but with inter-government organizations, non-government organizations and coalition partners.
Once on the ground, Marines can enter information into an Android-based phone using one of several dozen standardized forms: information such as the condition of water or sewer facilities, schools, churches or mosques. The data is then uploaded to the cloud and accessible in a system similar to Wikipedia.
Having access like that is key, said Capt. Shane Pevehouse, operations officer at MCCMOS. Pevehouse is a member of the new equipment training team that will teach civil affairs Marines how to use MARCIMS.
“The system is great because it takes a lot of the old paper and pen and puts it into one central repository for all reports,” he said. “It makes it much, much easier for a new unit to come in and see everything that a relieving unit has done.”
MARCIMS is already battle-tested with good results, according to Ohleger.
“Marines on the ground during Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines collected data using the S&T version of this,” he said. “It is proving to be a real force multiplier.”
Beginning in 2015, MARCIMS will initially be fielded to all active-duty civil affairs detachments and then to the civil affairs groups on the Reserve side. In all, 300 devices will go to the fleet.