JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center is testing an installation community events mobile app aimed at building a sense of connectedness and camaraderie among Airmen.
Called What’s Up, the app serves as a centralized bulletin board for an installation or organization. After launching at Yokota Air Base, Japan, in June, AFIMSC began testing the app internally in July.
“It’s very intuitive and easy to use,” said Maj. Victoria Villa, logistics readiness officer functional area manager and AFIMSC Round Table president.
The AFIMSC Round Table sponsors and hosts a variety of morale, professional development and community engagement events for Airmen and families throughout the year. Villa, also a member of the AFIMSC Connectedness Committee, is eager to use the app to advertise all AFIMSC events in one location.
“We want to have all our events listed in one spot,” Villa said. “With this app, AFIMSC Airmen and families won’t have to search emails or monitor multiple Facebook groups to stay connected and engaged.”
Anyone within a group or organization that hosts an event can become an event creator in the app, said Emilie Miller, an innovation program analyst with AFIMSC Ventures. The goal is for What’s Up to be the one-stop shop for installation events, she said.
What’s Up allows users to view and RSVP to an in-person or virtual event without having to log into an account. Users select their base when they download the app in order to see events relevant to them. Other app features include:
- Admins can create events and assign user roles.
- Creators can create and host events, and monitor number of attendees.
- Shareable event links available via email, text or share tray on device.
- Event flyers created in .PDF format and shareable via email, text or share tray on device.
- Priority messaging for admins.
At the installation level, force support squadron community event coordinators can use the app to advertise base-wide events and assign admin or creator roles to others outside the FSS who support installation and community events, Miller said.
At Yokota, AFIMSC is working with the Yokota Spark Cell, or YokoWERX, to test the app. So far, YokoWERX has received a lot of positive feedback about the concept and they’re working to garner more participation from the base community, said Master Sgt. Brett Kiser, a member of the Yokota Spark Cell.
“If the whole base used this platform, we would cut down on email traffic and not be tethered to our work emails,” he said.
The original idea for the app was awarded 1st place and $250,000 during the first AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo in early 2019. AFIMSC partnered with the Air Force’s Business and Enterprise Systems Product Innovation Office, or BESPIN, and Big Nerd Ranch, a web and mobile app developing agency on development.
“This is our first Innovation Rodeo winner,” Miller said. “It took a little bit of time to be ready for release, but it is exciting to see it rolling out to the Air Force. We love what we have been able to learn with BESPIN and Big Nerd Ranch, and for their amazing efforts to bring this idea to life.”
Developers focused on delivering an app that would be helpful to users and aligned with senior leader goals and priorities.
“We worked very hard to get our target audience to test and help design the app. We also connected with the AFIMSC leadership and their connectedness goals, and discussed needs with the team for some features that would enhance value from their perspective,” Miller said. “Those features are coming soon, including event feedback for our admins and event creators. We are still learning and still gathering feedback to further refine the app.”
The team also worked diligently to keep the app secure, running it through security reviews and vulnerability assessments before testing, Miller said.
The app is currently only available on Apple devices. Users can find the app by searching for “What’s up app USAF” in the app store. An Android version is in development and will be released as soon as it’s ready.
“We are excited to share this simple, easy app to support our community events. If anyone has feedback, please reach out and let us know, we are happy to listen and incorporate what we learn,” she said.
For more information, contact AFIMSC Ventures at AFIMSC.Innovation@us.af.mil.