JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Virginia --
Innovators from across the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing attended the third iteration of the ‘Innovation at the Edge’ Summit Sept. 12 to 15, 2017, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
This summit gives Airmen a venue to engage with senior leadership about advanced innovations with viable products. It also helps them to mature their ideas for implementation across the enterprise, said Ryan Hatfield, 480th Innovation Cell deputy chief.
Group level leaders sign off on the innovations confirming they are ready and want the innovation to be considered for wing implementation, said Hatfield. With advances in today’s technology, 480th ISRW leaders believe the best way to improve their weapon system is by creating an innovative ecosystem, he said.
By empowering the Airmen who are working directly with the system, the Airmen have been able to develop innovations that either improve operations or save time for the operators.
“I have attended all three summits to date, and I see the processes maturing,” said Linda Halverson, Air Combat Command Air Force Distributed Common Ground System Weapons System Team chief. “Each one helps me gain a better understanding of the opportunities for the weapon system to leverage the investment the wing commander is making in terms of materiel and non-materiel resources.”
One innovative idea from last year’s summit was the Stone Wall application, which began with an Airmen having to cut and paste each field of information into a report, which was taking up the majority of his time, Hatfield said. The information was machine-formatted and came out the same way every time.
The Airman took the initiative to write a program that takes the machine-formatted information and move it into the correct data field on the report. It even pulls up the report needed by the analyst next to the machine-formatted text, allowing the analyst to verify the information and send it. This saves the analysts countless hours, Hatfield said.
“We have a lot of talented Airmen who get the opportunity to solve the problems that are frustrating them by using the talents they possess,” said Hatfield.
Several ideas which provide broader information to the operators were also showcased at the summit, such as the Enterprise Wise Operational Capabilities dashboard. This dashboard shows communication logistics sustainment Airmen the second and third order effects to interconnected networks when one system goes down, as well as the impact it has on the other systems connected to it, he said.
“What I liked about this summit is that we had heavy involvement from our communication logistics sustainment,” said Hatfield. “We’re an intelligence wing. Sometimes we get intel focused and don’t give enough attention to the people who make it possible by laying the communications and security groundwork or infrastructure. They have their own challenges and own ideas for innovation.”
Another innovative Airman at the summit was Staff Sgt. Matthew Begeman, 480th ISRW Weapons and Tactics shop, who said he was inspired when his innovative idea was retweeted by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Dave Goldfein.
Begeman utilized his formal training in Aeronautical Reconnaissance Coverage Geographic Information System to create a weather program for Hurricane Irma, on his own time. The application collected data from various websites which showed real-time updates on the hurricane. Users could share photos, which enabled emergency responders to see situations prior to arriving on scene and use that data to create alternate evacuation points.
Overall, the summit was informative and a positive experience for the Airmen who attended.
“I find it beneficial for several reasons,” Halverson said. “Site personnel can share problems and potential solutions, and this cross-talk sometimes leads to more innovative ways to solve the problem. From an (Air Combat Command) requirements perspective, it helps me to understand first-hand what the units struggle with to accomplish their mission and gives me better understanding as I interact with (others) on their behalf. It gives us all an opportunity to share initiatives being worked by ACC/Special Process Officer that the Airman may not otherwise be made aware of.”