With more than 20,000 personnel assigned, this Air Force Unit B can easily be considered a very large organization. In order to maintain their readiness and situational awareness, the command sends hundreds of Airmen to conferences, symposiums and training located across the world. Despite maintaining their edge, Unit B leadership was frustrated with the disparate means of tracking the data from these engagements. They weren’t getting all of the data.
Unit B partnered with 2ENOVATE LLC to develop a cloud-based decision support system. This system would provide all travelers with a single point of entry for the data obtained during their external engagements, as well as providing leaders with near real-time access to the data. By providing data more quickly, Unit B would be able to make a more informed decision in a much timelier manner than ever before.
Due to the (sometimes) sensitive nature of military related data, Unit B was not able to implement a commercial product and have it meet the security and usability requirements imposed by the Department of Defense. Additionally, the solution shouldn’t impose any additional time requirements on Air Force personnel.
There are almost as many systems of tracking data from external engagements as there are subordinated units within Unit B. None of these methods are controlled, normalized or updated at specified intervals. Additionally, these are internal trackers. Nearly any request for information from any outside unit must be compiled manually. This is time and labor intensive. Once all of the requested data has been received, the requesting unit must normalize and compile the data into a usable format before the data can be queried and a report generated.
By utilizing the Mission Model Canvas and methodologies taught by the Hacking for Defense program at the University of West Florida, we conducted over 40 interviews of Unit B personnel and civilians with a Department of Defense association. These interviews revealed exactly what a solution would need to provide for acceptance and willing use from Unit B and its’ subordinate units.
Based upon this information, we generated a high-fidelity prototype for Unit B. After a few modifications, we arrived at technologically feasible and implementable solution. Amazon Web Services (AWS), coupled with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning provide a storage mechanism, as well as a query and reporting mechanism for all the data obtained by traveling Air Force personnel. Loading the data into the AWS database is accomplished via a lightweight and custom mobile application which utilizes speech-to-text functionality to allow a user to narrate their experience. We call this solution the Enhanced Situational Awareness Platform, or ESAP.