Technology offers more ‘face time’ with commanders

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By Staff Sgt. Torri Ingalsbe, Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location-P / Published May 21, 2014

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WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

New advances in digital technology now allow commanders to speak directly to Airmen, despite geographical separation.

The Global Content Delivery Service, or GCDS, is a real-time video moderated forum, which enables Airmen to ask questions, receive information and engage in face-to-face conversations with commanders from their individual work stations, anywhere in the world.

"The biggest impact is that Airmen who traditionally haven't been privy to information at a conference or seminar can now have live access to presentations, briefings, etc.," said Capt. Ken Malloy, who does strategic outreach for Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, the office of the Secretary of the Air Force Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer.  "Airmen can interact with briefers and other participants as opposed to recorded sessions. Commanders can reach out to all their Airmen without geographical considerations as long as they have access to the (Department of Defense) network."

The technology, which was the result of concerted efforts from Air Force cyber professionals, the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Defense Media Activity, Air Force Space Command and industry, has already successfully been used in three major events, reaching more than 10,000 Airmen and saving approximately $5.3 million in temporary duty costs.

One of these events included the first online “Air Force logistics day.” In October of last year, Lt. Gen. Judith Fedder, Air Force deputy chief of logistics, installations and mission support, hosted the engagement which allowed members across the global Air Force logistics community to connect through the use of the GCDS presenter capability.

The online collaboration capability delivered presentations between two separate sites -- Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma and The Pentagon – in a live virtual conference. Participants could see presenters and presentations from both sites and ask questions using the text submission feature. At its peak, this event connected 1,175 participants from 15 locations.

“The overwhelming positive feedback coupled with the enormous TDY cost savings and global audience reach, provides opportunities for other Air Force organizations to capitalize on this game-changing resource,” Fedder said.

The GCDS differs from other video conferencing systems in both its cost-saving capability and allowing for a larger audience size.

“Benefits include getting messages by senior AF leaders more widely disseminated and live,” Malloy said. “Its global nature permits wider audiences for conferences and media engagements.

Malloy explained the GCDS is similar to watching an online streaming video, noting the only limitations to the system exist in the users’ network capabilities. Anyone with access to a DOD network can participate in GCDS-hosted events, including Airmen who are serving in contingency operations.

 “DCO and VTC are still viable collaborative tools, but GCDS can reach a broader audience where controlling access to the online video isn’t a requirement,” Malloy said.

The GCDS came at a time when two public affairs-led studies showed Airmen want information delivered to them directly and preferably face-to-face.

“The Air Force is leveraging existing technology to connect leaders with the field and save the Air Force money,” Basla said. “This is a smart way to do business, and I encourage leadership at all levels to take advantage of this valuable online collaboration capability.”

(Editor’s note: Anyone interested in using GCDS Presenter, contact the GCDS Streaming Team at email: gcds-ps-streaming@akamai.com.)

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