British Army's data platform recognised for support of NHS COVID-19 response

The 42 Engineering Regiment "broke new ground" with its geospatial intelligence system

Lt Col Alex harris of the 42 Engineering Regiment holding an award

A regiment in the British Army has been globally recognised for its work on a "groundbreaking" data platform that was used to support the UK's COVID response.

The platform, built by 42 Engineer Regiment, is a geospatial intelligence system (GIS) capable of pulling together data from NHS facilities, and those belonging to its partners, to inform real-time decisions.

The work, which is considered the first to be the first example of a military project being used to support a civilian emergency, has won the 2021 Esri Special Achievement in Geographic Information Systems (SAG) Award.

Information system specialists Esri recognises organisations that have set new precedents and improved the world using geographic information systems. In the case of the 42 Regiment, its work helped to inform decision makers and planners with a dynamic common operational picture of all aspects of the COVID crisis in the UK.

It broke new ground, according to Esri, by being the first data platform capable of overlaying COVID incidence data with NHS infrastructure, hospital bed capacities, population demographics, partner facility locations and available personnel numbers. The extent of its reach was also unique to the UK's pandemic response, given it joined up multiple organisations and over 1,000 users, spanning the Cabinet Office and government departments to the NHS, SAGE, local authorities, first responders, and military personnel.

The 42 Regiment is said to have drawn on its experience using GIS for humanitarian operations to create a secure, web-based 'COVID Viewer' using Esri's ArcGIS service within a matter of days. This gave instant access to real-time data to all parties to make faster and more informed decisions.

In turn this helped to ensure effective deployment of limited resources and ultimately, saved lives, protected the NHS, and combated the pandemic, according to Esri.

"42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic) is proud to have played a key role in enabling the government to make faster, well-informed decisions in the battle to protect the NHS and save lives," said 42 reg support lead captain Luke Parker. "The online GIS platform helped lots of different organisations to work together to make the big decisions about how the UK responded to the pandemic".

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