These Marines will take Android smartphones into the field

Marines MARCIMS civil affairs app

Marines working in civil-military assistance operations will, starting next year, be able to use Android smartphones for collecting and reporting information during disaster relief or humanitarian assistance missions.

The stylus-equipped phones will be loaded with the Marine Corps Civil Information Management System, of MARCIMS, which will not only let them leave pen and paper behind but will also automate their processes, the Marine Corps said in a release.

“We used to have to do assessments by hand,” said Maj. Mike Ohleger, who has worked on developing the system for two years at Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. “For civil affairs it means taking an outdated, manual system, automating it and bringing it to the cloud.”

The app, first developed with funding from the Office of Naval Research, contains several dozen forms, covering such assessments as the condition of water supplies or schools. Once entered, data is transferred to a Wikipedia-like cloud system accessible to other users, including inter-government and non-government organizations, as well as coalition partners.

“The system is great because it takes a lot of the old paper and pen and puts it into one central repository for all reports,” said Capt. Shane Pevehouse, operations officer at the systems command. “It makes it much, much easier for a new unit to come in and see everything that a relieving unit has done.”

Among its tests, MARCIMS was tested in real-world conditions in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last November, with good results, Ohleger said.

The Corps expects to field 300 MARCIM smartphones in 2015, starting with active-duty civil affairs detachments and, eventually, Reserve civil affairs groups.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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