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App Helps Commanders Track COVID-19 Outbreaks

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U.S. Army
Monday, May 18, 2020

Army leaders around the world are relying on a mobile and desktop app to get real-time information on local COVID-19 outbreaks, a tool that could become increasingly valuable as communities start to lift restrictions and businesses reopen.

Known as the Joint Analytic Real-time Virtual Information Sharing System (JARVISS), the software pulls from more than 80,000 sources to provide “real-time” information relating to local criminal activity, natural disasters and, now, COVID-19 patterns.

“As the Army phases into a steady state of operations ... JARVISS has the capability of assessing the COVID-19 threat,” Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, Army provost marshal general, said during a recent press briefing.

“[It’s] providing commanders with tools needed to make appropriate decisions,” Vereen said.

The “proven information” provided through JARVISS, he said, is “a valuable tool for commanders to know and understand the threat in their area of responsibility.”

When the first reports of confirmed human-to-human spread of the virus, followed by the first cases in the U.S., appeared in JARVISS, the Army took swift action, and leaders were able to use the app to track clusters of outbreaks, Vereen said.

Since the start of the outbreak, installations have put temporary restrictions in place—such as social distancing, mask policies and restricted gate access—as part of a larger Army effort to stop the virus from spreading.

James Allen, JARVISS program manager, said the software saves commanders time by pulling relevant information and providing “key COVID updates,” such as community restrictions, local outbreaks and stay-at-home orders.

“If [commanders] need to bring their soldiers in from off-post locations, or in some cases keep soldiers on a military installation because the outbreak is just too high, JARVISS helps make those decisions,” Allen said.

As economies around the globe begin to reopen, the app will help senior leaders track the impact of the virus in their communities.

“Commanders can make real-time decisions on how to integrate their workforce and ... make some adjustments to how they do that based on the virus outbreak,” Vereen said.

The app, which shares open source and unclassified Army information, is also used by local and federal agencies, according to the Army.

“Balancing readiness with the health and safety of the force is critical to our success,” Vereen said.