News Stories

Mobile District Data Collection Unit hosts open house

USACE, Mobile District
Published Jan. 18, 2024
Richard Allen, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District Data Collection Unit technical lead, shows Col. Jeremy Chapman, Mobile District Commander, the various equipment the DCU team operates during an open house at the DCU in Irvington, Alabama, Jan. 10, 2024. Moving into the newly renovated building in September 2023, the DCU stands ready to be the District’s go-to source for rapid data collection processing. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

Richard Allen, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District Data Collection Unit technical lead, shows Col. Jeremy Chapman, Mobile District Commander, the various equipment the DCU team operates during an open house at the DCU in Irvington, Alabama, Jan. 10, 2024. Moving into the newly renovated building in September 2023, the DCU stands ready to be the District’s go-to source for rapid data collection processing. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

Current and retired the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District Data Collection Unit members pose for a group photo with District leadership during an open house at the DCU in Irvington, Alabama, Jan. 10, 2024. The DCU is essential to the Water Management mission, and their expertise ensures high-quality data to support the daily reservoir operation decisions. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

Current and retired the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District Data Collection Unit members pose for a group photo with District leadership during an open house at the DCU in Irvington, Alabama, Jan. 10, 2024. The DCU is essential to the Water Management mission, and their expertise ensures high-quality data to support the daily reservoir operation decisions. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

Brad Simmons, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District hydrologic technician, left, describes equipment during an open house at the Data Collection Unit in Irvington, Alabama, Jan. 10, 2024. Simmons described the various equipment the DCU operates to collect data for the District. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

Brad Simmons, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District hydrologic technician, left, describes equipment during an open house at the Data Collection Unit in Irvington, Alabama, Jan. 10, 2024. Simmons described the various equipment the DCU operates to collect data for the District. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

By Chuck Walker

MOBILE, Ala. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District Water Management Department created the Data Collection Unit (DCU) to meet the demand for more data and collect it rapidly.

To help the DCU meet its ever-growing, ever-expanding mission, the District renovated the former DTOS storage building to be the new home for the DCU.

The DCU hosted an open house at its new facility in Irvington, Alabama, Jan. 10, 2024.

“Prior to moving into the Irvington location, we completed some renovations of the floorplan for functionality and cosmetics,” said Richard Allen, DCU Technical Lead. “We completed the renovations and moved in around the end of September 2023. Four months later and I couldn’t be happier. Our new facility has given us space for new equipment and a dedicated laboratory for water quality, biological, and sediment analysis.”

Since the early 1930s, the Mobile District has maintained expertise in hydrologic data collection such, as water level, streamflow, rainfall, and water quality.

Historically, the majority of the data collection effort supported the operation of the 28 dams within the District, dredging along the Gulf Coast, and a handful of planning studies. This effort was performed by a team of hydrologic technicians referred to as streamgagers.

The current DCU has the capability to rapidly collect, process, and analyze data economically and efficiently support USACE Civil Works and other unique District needs. The capabilities include Surface Water, Water Quality, Sediment Collection and Testing, Coastal Hydrodynamics, Hydroacoustics, Biological Assessments, Meteorological, Structural Instrumentation, LIDAR and Survey.

James Hathorn, Mobile District Chief of Management, said the DCU plays a vital role in the success of Water Management and the Mobile District.

“The DCU efforts are essential to Water Management’s mission,” Hathorn said. “Their expertise ensures high-quality data to support the daily reservoir operation decisions. DCU has been able to accomplish rapid data collection efforts for numerous civil works efforts for numerous civil works efforts at significant savings. The time consume effort to accomplish comparable tasks via a contract effort has made the DCU a very attractive alternative.”

Hathorn said that the DCU has excellent leadership and that the unit’s goal is to be the go-to source of data within the District.

“Richard Allen is the perfect fit in his role as the DCU Technical Lead,” Hathorn said. “A strong-willed leader, with an amazing work ethic that inspires his team to mimic, openly accepts the seemingly impossible tasks and most importantly he is a patient trainer. With his leadership, we simply want to become the District’s go-to resource and expertise for rapid data collection, processing and analysis in an economical and efficient manner.”

Allen said his team wants to continue pushing the limits on what it can do and meet customer needs with its data.

“Ultimately, we intend to be the go-to source for unique and challenging field data collection needs across a large range of disciplines for the Mobile District,” Allen said. “I am always looking for new ways to support the Mobile District mission. We are not afraid to try almost anything. We can be 50 percent or more cost-effective than outside resources. We give the Mobile District the strength to be autonomous and retain personnel with technical expertise, and most importantly, hands-on knowledge.”