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AF, NASA partner for mission success

Sandbags are transported by the 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron to help prevent flooding during Hurricane Sandy at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Oct. 26, 2012. Significant impacts from Sandy could potentially begin as early as 2 a.m., Oct. 29, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Teresa Aber/Released)

Sandbags are transported by the 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron to help prevent flooding during Hurricane Sandy, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Oct. 26, 2012. Due to a partnership with NASA, the 633rd CES uses the Flood Impact Analysis Tool to determine locations that need more flood protection through the use of sand bags, keeping water out of buildings. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Teresa Aber)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Schrader, 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuel systems maintenance craftsman moves sandbags to various buildings to prevent flooding at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Oct. 26, 2012. Hurricane Sandy is expected to bring four to six inches of rain to the JBLE area, with sustained winds of 45 to 50 kts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Teresa Aber/Released)

Staff Sgt. Daniel Schrader, a 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuel systems maintenance craftsman, moves sandbags to various buildings to prevent flooding in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Oct. 26, 2012. Due to a partnership with NASA, the 633rd CES uses the Flood Impact Analysis Tool to determine locations that need more flood protection through the use of sand bags, keeping water out of buildings. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Teresa Aber)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) --

Developed in the mid-1990s by the NASA Geographic Information System office, the Flood Impact Analysis Tool illustrates the effects of localized tidal storm flooding.

Through a partnership with NASA, the 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis benefits from the multi-functioning tool, which arrived to the base in 2006.

“The intended purpose of the tool was so we would know where the water was going; however, it has allowed our team to focus on being more productive with our resources,” said Freddie Torres, the 633rd CES geospatial information officer. “We use the tool to make smarter decisions, from planning storm impacts to construction projects.”

The application allows the 633rd CES to efficiently manage resource deployment to more effectively protect people and mission-essential equipment across the installation.

“Keeping water out of the facilities is a main cost-saving benefit of the tool,” Torres said. “Every time we mobilize for a storm, there are 450 (633rd CES) personnel mobilizing. We can’t sandbag every building on base and if a building floods, it’ll be a huge project to renovate it. Now, we can focus on sandbagging the buildings that (could possibly) flood from the storms.”

NASA has also updated the application, which was created 20 years ago, to reduce the number of maps printed during potential storm surges. Now, the tool allows for a rapid, broader dissemination of data that allows individuals to calculate the number of sandbags needed to prevent water from entering a facility.

Along with flood mapping, William B. Ball, the NASA geospatial information system team leader, and his team created a new widget application that can help facility managers with space, spill response, equipment and environmental issues.

“We want to make all of our 250 tools available to Langley personnel,” Ball said of the application that works on desktop and portable devices. “Our Facility Management Portal helps resources be used efficiently and appropriately from the environmental assets to construction.”

Torres added that what began as a flooding impact tool has merged into a planning tool used to ensure construction of buildings on base are properly elevated to reduce the risk of flooding.

“Some of the questions that weren’t asked before about construction plans are now being asked, because I can see the impact,” Torres said. “Flooding has stayed at the front of our minds rather than being an afterthought.”

Torres ensured JB Langley-Eustis members the 633rd CES has a contingency plan for when a storm may affect the base.

“We replicated a standalone version of the FIAT to run on a laptop in case network connections were to fail,” Torres said. “We also have the ability to print hard copy maps for the different flood scenarios.”

For the 633rd CES, this innovative partnership with NASA has allowed for mission success in the event potential storms near the shores of the base.

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