Geospatial Software Goes ROGUE

U.S. ARMY ERDC Completes Operational Demo of Open Source Platform

By Kristin Quinn

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is going rogue—developing a distributed versioned editing platform for geospatial feature data. The ERDC’s Rapid Open Geospatial User-Driven Enterprise (ROGUE) recently completed the first year of its Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD).

JCTDs provide rapid fielding—within 2 to 3 years—of mature or maturing technologies for a specific operational area and require two technology demonstrations each year, as well as an operational demonstration at the conclusion of each year.

Robin Rodgers, ROGUE technical manager with ERDC, said the goal of the project is to improve humanitarian and disaster relief efforts for the DoD and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)—ROGUE’s combatant command sponsor—using collaboration via open source software.

“Our focus is being able to manage all of this geospatial data we collect and keep it organized—so when you’re out in the field, we’re operating under the assumption that you’ll likely be in a disconnected environment,” Rodgers said. “When you have multiple users in the field in disconnected mode, they can download the data before they go into the field, then when they come back into the connected environment, whatever changes they made in the field will sync and merge harmoniously.”

ERDC is working in partnership with LMN Solutions and Boundless to develop the ROGUE software, which operates on the foundation of Boundless’ OpenGeo Suite. At the heart of ROGUE’s capabilities lies GeoGit, an open source distributed versioned editing tool for geospatial feature data. Another open source tool called GeoNode is leveraged for the viewing of data.

ROGUE’S first operational demonstration was held in Honduras in September 2013, in collaboration with the country’s Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECO) and SOUTHCOM’s Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-B). A team of eight handpicked trainees and eight volunteers used ROGUE to support Honduras’ Sept. 15 Independence Day festivities.

The team ran simulations of a partial stadium collapse scenario Sept. 12 using the ROGUE web platform and mobile app. During the actual celebrations Sept. 15, COPECO sent out teams using mobile devices equipped with ROGUE to add incidents, which were displayed in real-time at the COPECO operations center.

“The COPECO staff at the emergency operations center realized they were getting information from the ROGUE field teams faster than other teams that weren’t using ROGUE,” Rodgers said. “COPECO was initially using ROGUE in parallel to their standard operations, but then the other field teams started reporting incidents through the ROGUE mobile app as well, so all field operations switched over to using ROGUE.”

ROGUE is completely unclassified and open source, according to Scott Clark, the ROGUE program manager with LMN Solutions.

“It’s to SOUTHCOM’s benefit that all of this is open source and fully transferrable to any partner nations,” Clark said. 

Entering year two, Rodgers said the project would focus on conflict resolution. For example, determining which change to accept when two people make changes to the same feature.

At the completion of the JCTD, the Pacific Disaster Center will act as the primary transition manager and incorporate ROGUE into its DisasterAWARE real-time disaster monitoring platform. The second point of transition for ROGUE will be the U.S. Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit, and the third is the open source software community.

Ultimately, Rodgers said ERDC hopes ROGUE capabilities will have the potential to be stood up and modified by any organization with a need to share and keep track of geospatial data. 


Photo Credit: Pacific Disaster Center