From January-February 2012 Milcord participated in Cobra Gold military exercises in Thailand, demonstrating our MARCIM (US Marine Corps Civil Information Management) Semantic Wiki. This is the second year we have participated in the exercises; last year, Laura Cassani represented Milcord by presenting our sociocultural knowledge base. You can read Laura's post here for background on the exercises, and details about our participation in Cobra Gold 2011. Since then, we’ve developed another knowledge base built upon a Semantic Wiki platform, tailored to support the Civil Information Management needs identified in Thailand.
The MARCIM Semantic Wiki supports real time data collection, visualization, and analysis by automatically ingesting assessments and surveys conducted by Civil Military Operations (CMO) teams submitted via mobile devices, and semantically tagging and generating relationships with the field collected data. During Cobra Gold 2012, the MARCIM Semantic Wiki was placed in the hands of the exercise’s planning and operations team. This team, stationed at the CJCMOTF (Combined Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force) in Korat, Thailand, is responsible for overseeing all CMO activity within the country. I spent three weeks observing, interacting with, and supporting the users, and, based on their feedback, we customized the Wiki so that it could best assist and advance the efforts of CMO personnel. It was incredible to see how the Wiki evolved throughout the exercises from being something that was built on a conceptual level by Milcord to being a living, breathing tool that took shape around user feedback as we worked continuously to tailor the Wiki so that it could confer the utmost benefit to the troops. On a daily basis within the CJCMOTF, the staff used the Wiki to submit their daily reports, analyze demographic information within the area of operations, monitor team activity, and visualize responses to surveys and assessments.
During my time in Thailand, I gained an appreciation for the nature of the data collected during CMO missions; information is collected about the local infrastructure, medical needs of the population, progress being made at engineering sites, as well as sentiments of the Thai people toward the troops. Instead of placing this data onto inaccessible hard drives where it is unlikely to be utilized, the Wiki structures the data and places it into an analyzable form for users, thus presenting the value of the aggregated data to the troops. In addition to helping the troops understand the impact they’re making on the ground, the aggregation and analysis of this data also prevents duplication of effort by CMO teams by alerting them to what has already been achieved within the area of operation, and what activities and projects should be prioritized in the future.
Although our work within the CJCMOTF kept me busy, I was still able to sneak in some sightseeing. I visited the Weekend Market in Bangkok (the largest market in Thailand), toured the Royal Palace and Wat Pho, and visited Khmer ruins within Korat. The entire trip was a culinary escapade, and I quickly developed an appetite for som tam (spicy papaya salad with shrimp) and chai yen (Thai iced tea).
Since our participation in Cobra Gold 2012, we have been invited to participate in a number of other exercises, including Balikatan 2012 exercise in the Philippines, Pacific Partnership 2012 exercise in Southeast Asia and Oceania, and Black Sea Rotational Force 2012 operation in Eastern Europe. We look forward to posting further updates on the evolution of the MARCIM Semantic Wiki as we progressively gain insights from these operations and exercises!