The college’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology (CGIT) is improving informational databases across service lines of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, which will help 15,000 veterans access educational, employment, and support resources in the commonwealth.
The center developed a new database for the Virginia Veterans and Family Support Program and for Veterans Education, Transition, and Employment, working to determine the specific needs of each organization and to facilitate communication between veterans and their dependents, and schools, businesses, and hospitals.
CGIT Operations Officer Brandon Herndon’s experience as a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force was an asset throughout the process. “I was able to be an engaged collaborator, recognizing the different needs of each organization. And because I was familiar with the terms and data that these organizations were working with, I could ensure we developed a program that best suited their needs.”
One challenge was merging a wide range of data from several different sources and databases. Project Associate Javier Ramírez was tasked with creating a process to import thousands of data points into a single system, thus reducing data duplication. The new system went live in February 2018, with all organizations fully transitioned by June 2018.
As the center’s role in the project transitions from development to maintenance under a new contract, Herndon is looking forward to expanding CGIT’s contributions to Virginia veterans. “We’re hoping that the next step will be to use geospatial data to create additional, public-facing tools that veterans can use. For example, if veterans are looking for educational opportunities, we can use geospatial data points to help them find colleges, trade schools, or certificate programs nearby that are eligible to receive GI Bill funding.”
Brandon Herndon (left) and Javier Ramirez