GeoBase: keeping Nellis on the map

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Whitney
  • Nellis Public Affairs
For many people, whether they are traveling across the country or trying to get across town, maps are a tool to help them get where they are going. Thanks to the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron's Geospatial Information Office, maps are the oil that helps the machine known as Nellis run smoothly.

GeoBase, the Air Force's geospatial mapping program of choice for nearly 10 years, provides a single, up-to-date, all inclusive, synchronized common installation picture for all personnel. At first glance this would appear as a just map, but lurking beneath the user-friendly surface is a multitude of options waiting to be utilized by military members.

"This program doesn't just produce pretty, colorful maps; this is an information highway with huge amounts of valuable information," said Catherine Hall, a 99th CES geospatial information manager. The Nellis GeoBase program covers an area that spans more than 3 million acres across Nevada, to include Nellis AFB, Creech AFB, Nevada Test and Training Range and community resources that contains unimaginable amounts of data that sits at user's fingertips.

Everything--from a building's name, number, perimeter, square footage and location, down to signs, walls, fences, infrastructure, and the different parts of the Nellis Flightline--anything taller than 4 inches has been marked and mapped into the GeoBase system.

These features represent only a small portion of the many ways that GeoBase has been used at Nellis. Nearly every unit can use GeoBase in some way or fashion, whether it is the 99th Security Forces Squadron setting up cordons around areas, or firefighters assessing the best means to enter a burning building.

Another use that Nellis has found for GeoBase is integrating the mapping system into the Theatre Battle Management Core Systems. The TBMCS program is used to support Nellis Command and Control, and provides commanders situational awareness of an event, giving commanders the tools they need to make more informed command level decisions.

GeoBase has been useful in the fight against encroachment as well, a growing problem around most military bases. By displaying a potential property on the GeoBase system, for instance a multi-floored condo, senior Nellis leaders can negotiate with the property owners and communicate to them the impact such construction would have on the Nellis mission.

"We just finished a large scale project in October where we spent more than 30 hours on the flightline marking geographical points of obstructions standing more than 4 inches high using the Geo XT, a mobile global positioning device that logs data into the GeoBase system," said Roger Clarke, a 99th CES geospatial information manager.

This was done in preparation for the upcoming annual Air Force safety inspection that, with the help of GeoBase, is expected to have incredible results.

Although it is used all the time, GeoBase has been used only by a small percentage of the base population.

GeoBase users can opt to have information on GeoBase edited so they receive information that pertains to their job, or exclude information that doesn't apply to the task at hand.

"The problem is that people don't know about GeoBase and what it can bring to the table," Mr. Clarke said.

"99th CES for instance, might need to know the location of underground waterlines when performing construction or building maintenance. Using GeoBase, they can simply check the map electronically instead of having to go through channels and call people to find out where the water is. The reliability of the data is attributed to our shop craftsman's data and active participation with the GeoBase program," Mr. Clarke explained.

"We use GeoBase for all of these things, but there is still a lot of untapped potential, the biggest thing is just letting people know where to find the program," said Mr. Clarke.