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DoD Command, Control & Communications (C3) Data Model

Updated: May 31, 2022

DoD Command, Control & Communications (C3) Data Model leveraging the DoD-High Microsoft 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC).


Partner description:

ACES is a business productivity and solutions innovation company focused on helping government organizations leverage the Microsoft 365 GCC to streamline and automate government operations. As a Microsoft Charter Partner, we specialize in the areas of Content Services, Process Automation, Data Analytics, and Training.


Industry:

Federal Government / Defense.


Products/Solutions:

Use this space to list which Microsoft products were used in the solution you provided.

  • Microsoft 365

  • Office 365

  • SharePoint Online

  • Microsoft Teams

  • Advanced Data Governance


Solution Summary

There has been no centralized data repository for DoD organizations to report and maintain information related to Tactical Communications equipment and modernization efforts. The DoD CIO is responsible for ensuring interoperability throughout various upgrades and modernization efforts. The numerous non-standard data repositories have existed in the form of Excel Spreadsheets with an occasional SharePoint list or database.


Due to high turnover, evolving mission requirements, and organizational changes, maintaining these repositories has been difficult and integrating them unreasonably complicated. The Microsoft 365 GCC has finally provided a DoD-wide accessible platform with the necessary tools to solve this long-standing problem. The ACES C3 Data Repository solution uses SharePoint Online and Power BI to provide organizations an unprecedented ability to access and maintain their C3 mission data for planning, analysis and reporting. The relational data model uses SharePoint lists with Lookups to relate the data. Data in the model can be combined with financial data, for example, to explore C3 financial characteristics.




Challenge

DoD Headquarters Organizations have been left to their own to manage their C3 equipment inventories and modernization efforts. As DoD has transformed into a highly integrated Joint Warfighting Organization with strong dependencies on Mission Partner interoperability the need to understand the status of C3 equipment within each unit has significantly grown. Before war planners can task units they must understand if the units all have compatible radios able to access to the necessary networks with the latest crypto updates. As the rate of hardware and software upgrades continues to increase, it has become too hard for planners to continue making phone calls to each unit to get a status on their equipment and capabilities.


Additionally, HQ organizations required to oversee status of upgrades and ensure interoperability throughout modernization efforts have not been able to keep up given the rapid software-defined-radio change cycles. Trying to find, analyze, track, manage, and report C3 information to all the right people in such a large organization as DoD with so much change happening so fast in the C3 space requires an easy to access and maintain centralized data repository. Until recently, Excel Spreadsheets, siloed SharePoint Lists, and a few disconnected databases have been used for tracking this information in a wide variety of non-standard ways with no common data architecture. Architecting a common data model in a capable, enterprise-wide technology for DoD C3 data has been an extremely complex, difficult, and long-standing challenge.


Solution Strategy

The use of so many different places, processes, and products to track C3 data in DoD was a big problem that was being felt at every level in the department. There was little disagreement on the need to organize and centralize the data but who would lead the effort and where would the repository reside? The DoD CIO C3I government leadership looked to ACES Group to provide the thought leadership required in designing and developing the data model and data repository based on a long track record of success in building similar DoD-wide solutions. Although a variety of technology stacks were under consideration in DoD, ACES recommended the Microsoft 365 DoD GCC High environment since it had the full suite of integrated capabilities needed to develop and maintain the data model as well as visualize the data in reports and dashboards using Power BI.


ACES Group developed a drillable dashboard demo using Power BI. The dashboard rolled up data from a variety of sources and applied the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Query (NLQ) capabilities in Power BI as part of the demo. The DoD CIO leadership were so impressed with the capabilities they asked for the demo to be provided to the CIOs for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Although the Service CIOs were impressed with the capabilities of Power BI, they had already directed their organizations to use the Advanced Analytics (ADVANA) platform developed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Comptroller since the vision of the Comptroller was for this platform to become the enterprise analytics platform for all DoD information and data. They also wanted us to store our data on their ADVANA platform. We showed how easy it would be for people to enter and update their data in SharePoint and how difficult it would be for users to access and update the data in the government’s ADVANA platform. The decision was made to use SharePoint to create, manage, and update the data and use the ADVANA platform to visualize the data in QlikSense dashboards and reports.


Results

The C3 Data Model has enabled the DoD CIO to track progress for modernization efforts and manage updates to C3 equipment and networks across DoD. It has also provided transparency to other services and combatant commands regarding the status of upgrades within their own organizations as well as other organizations of interest throughout DoD. Furthermore, this capability has enabled the identification of several issues related to funding, timing of upgrades, and interoperability that would have been undetectable without this solution. Mission Planners are expected to get significant value from this as well by using it to quickly determine which operational units have complete necessary C3 upgrades and are able to be combined into a Joint Force or Coalition Warfighting package as required to support military operations. Although an exact dollar figure is hard to quantify, one Air Force Tactical Radio Subject Matter Expert expressed this solution will easily save him 10 hours a week that he would normally have to spend digging up C3 information for reporting and analysis. He also estimated it will do the same or more for hundreds of others across the department and give the DoD and decision advantage in the C3I space far beyond anything it has experienced in the past.


Customer Quote

Your team has turned technology into a force multiplier for C3I when we needed to interface with our PSC, SATCOM and TCMP community. The C3I SharePoint portal, database solutions, and your Teams ability to get results in the Microsoft 365 environment have exceeded expectations and are a bright light on the SharePoint scene in CIO.

- Government Lead Tactical Communications, C3 Infrastructure

DoD CIO



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