05 August 2010

Now if there were only an application to replace AKO

Black Hawk pilots in Iraq and Afghanistan store their mission data on a device known as an Electronic Data Module (EDM).  Functioning as a  digital "kneeboard", it stores map data, waypoints, and can even send text messages.  Unfortunately, it's the size of a brick and runs on Windows XP. Not to mention, as anyone who's ever used a DoD-designed user interface can tell you, its touch-screen display can be woefully counterintuitive. Pilots often spend so much time trying to navigate through menus that they jokingly refer to the EDM as the "heads-down display".

Certainly, an iPad could replicate most of the functions in a much more intuitive format, and process information far more efficiently. It would also be far lighter than the current EDM, and might not need to be tethered to a cable, either.  In fact, aviators have long since preferred some of the functions of software such as Google Earth to the US military's Falcon View, especially during disaster relief missions, where information is shared government agencies and NGOs.

This spring, the Army continued its push towards crowdsourcing innovation with a competition to develop the best military-related application for mobile platforms, such as the iPhone and Droid.  Soldiers attempted to outdo high-priced contractors with home-made solutions to high-tech problems.  Among the entries was a mobile platform that interfaced with the US Army's Command Post of the Future (CPOF) software.  Wired.com reports:

The overall winners ranged from a workout guide to an app for disaster relief efforts that allows the user to search, create and edit maps using Google Earth. But in terms of battlefield utility, the most important app may be “Sigacts” program for the iPhone. It lets a soldier tap into the Army’s futuristic command post software (called, I’m not kidding, “Command Post of the Future“) and learn about bombings and firefights in his area.

(Though, it should be noted, that with the standard CPOF computer coming equipped with three big screens and a DVD player, it's more appropriately nicknamed the "Command Post of the Right Now".  You work out the acronym on that one.)

There are a lot of fantastic, innovative solutions that can come from outside the traditional defense contractor channels.  Anyone care to crowdsource a good alternative to AKO?

Don't forget the coverage at Attackerman.


Michael C said...

Yeah start emailing everyone from Gmail, and just put at the bottom, "I don't use AKO anymore because of the mailbox size limits, please reply to my Gmail account for all future messages."

Michael C said...

I know I just posted but I have to relay this story about AKO, since it shows how screwed up the whole system is. I am deployed to Iraq using the pay for internet here. I remember I never filled out the DADT survey, so I go to the website to do that, and it says that it can't trust my security connection. Another win for AKO!

建邱勳 said...
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Anonymous said...
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FaST Surgeon said...

Reminds me of our super great, completely awesome, incredibly advanced, sophisticated looking DAGR........ It too has the weight and dimensions of a brick with a menu system that was most likely designed by an Al Qaeda operative!


Starbuck said...

Funny you bring this up. Right when I read this message, I had just returned from trudging through the woods, looking for a Raven UAV. I was navigating with a PLGR (the OLD GPS). I had absolutely no idea how to use it, so I switched to my Blackberry :)