Because dredging contracts are typically large-scale projects with high costs and potentially large impacts to a variety of other interests (shipping and the marine environment) collecting information on dredging operations can validate the effectiveness of dredging and provide an impartial documentation of these activities. The mission of the Dredging Quality Management (DQM) program, as stated in its guidance document, is "to provide standardized Corps-wide technical support of dredging through automated tools and services and to evolve these capabilities to meet our growing needs."
Automated monitoring of dredging activities was intended to provide inspection cost savings, improve confidence in dredging environmental compliance and "improve estimation of scope and cost of dredging projects, increasing their efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity for greater value of the Federal investment in channel maintenance Corps-wide." The DQM program grew out of a research project at the Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC) called Silent Inspector (SI) early in the new millennium which utilized sensors on board the dredge plant to continually monitor dredge activities and operations. This effort was conducted under the Dredge Operations and Environmental Research Program (DOER).
The project was migrated into a nationwide operational program in 2006 under the Operations Division, Spatial Data Branch at the USACE Mobile District with the release of CECW-CO Memorandum, Implementation of Automated Dredging Quality Assurance Monitoring date 17 April 2006. Initially, the program was to monitor all civil works dredging projects using hopper dredges and/or scows, but over time this mandate has been amended to add guidance for monitoring projects requiring USACE permits and to add monitoring of hydraulic pipeline dredges as well.
Although the primary mission of the National DQM Program is operational, the program is committed to continually evolving to incorporate emerging technologies and to provide comprehensive analysis of trends and summaries to assist in dredging estimates and decisions. The DQM Center is made up of a small core group of USACE personnel and both on-site and remote contractors which includes engineers, scientists, software developers and technical support specialists. The Center continually strives to exceed expectations of its customers by working to provide consistent quality in the data and support that is delivered while also increasing the range of services provided and the level of automation and efficiency throughout the data handling and analysis processes.
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