IT helps Navy manage bases - Pilot ATM intranet links security, administrativesystems and cuts costs
- By Gregory Slabodkin
- Apr 20, 1998
The Navy hopes a pilot called Smart Base will help it run its bases less expensively
and more efficiently.
Smart Base, which uses an asynchronous transfer mode intranet to consolidate base-level
operations, would incorporate smart cards, bar codes and cameras at security gates and
other automated systems to reduce staff and manage administrative tasks.
The service is evaluating 35 Smart Base technology and business practice improvements
at two sites--Naval Station Pascagoula, Miss., and Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, N.H.
The service estimates that once Smart Base is installed at Navy bases, it will save
several billion dollars in infrastructure costs that can then be redirected to pay for
Navy readiness and modernization programs.
"The key enabler for change is information technology," said Rear Adm. John
Scudi, director of the Navy's Shore Installation Management Division and Naval Outsourcing
and Privatization Programs Division.
Investment in IT will help Navy bases perform equal or better services less expensively
by using commercial hardware and software that provide the lowest lifecycle costs, Scudi
The focus of the program, Smart Link, is a WAN that will consolidate the IT
infrastructure on Navy bases. It will be linked to ATM hubs in Washington; Norfolk, Va.;
Groton, Conn.; Seattle; San Diego; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Jacksonville, Fla; and
The Navy intranet links all the base operating support functions. The network has
high-bandwidth voice, video and data connectivity at 80 Navy sites.
The service plans to link more than 200 sites by 2000, Scudi said.
The WAN will enable distance learning, remote technical and medical assistance,
electronic commerce, a personnel X.500 directory and computer-aided emergency dispatch.
The Navy recently began offering simulcast courses between the Naval Sea Systems
Command's Human Resources Office in Arlington, Va., and the pilot sites via Smart Link
Possible Smart Base and Smart Link programs include Small Procurement Electronic Data
Interchange. SPEDI lets personnel order standard supplies and materiel through their PCs.
Pascagoula and Portsmouth are set to go online this year.
The Navy is economizing by building some of the intranet on existing base
infrastructure. The Naval Air Station in Brunswick, N.J., saved more than $1 million by
building on an existing network belonging to a local cable television company.
Until Smart Link can come up with T1 access that costs $75,000 a year, Brunswick is
settling for the cable company's less capable 56-Kbps line at $20,000 a year.
Another initiative in the Smart Bases program: smart cards.
Embedded computer chips, bar codes and magnetic stripes on the cards track transactions
and let users buy goods and services without cash.
The Navy has issued more than 55,000 cards, which will eventually be accepted at all
Smart Gate, an automated gate system that limits access to military installations,
began testing last month in Norfolk.
Under the Smart Base program, the Navy also wants to consolidate police, fire and
rescue emergency radio dispatch at a single computer console that can access safety,
records management and automated intruder detection systems.
The Navy expects the consolidation to save up to 30 percent in labor costs.
But the program is not just meant for land. The floating version, Smart Ship, is
undergoing testing aboard the Aegis missile cruiser USS Yorktown and the amphibious ship
USS Rushmore. The Smart Ship program, too, has reduced personal needs.
Through the use of Pentium PCs running Windows NT 4.0, the Yorktown has reduced its
crew size by 10 percent and saved more than $2.8 million annually.
The ships' damage control team once needed 124 sailors, but after installing a LAN
system and PCs, the number of needed staff was slashed in half.