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FY10 Enhancements Expected for SIF
Written by AL&T Online Magazine   

Lacking direct field support, Michael Tumminelli and his unit relied on makeshift workarounds to fix their equipment. A triangle, hanging from a tree and fashioned out of Meals Ready-to-Eat spoons and wire, served as their "field expedient antennae." Now, with the Single Interface to the Field (SIF) reachback capability, warfighters can benefit from having a one-stop, streamlined resource for field support—and enhancements are on the way.

The SIF is available to warfighters and forward-support personnel for any system managed by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Life Cycle Management Command. It is a single point for users to report systems-related issues, so that they can receive 24/7 support by phone or directly through the portal from the Support Operations Center (SOC), Fort Hood, TX.

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The warfighter or field support personnel can contact the SOC via phone or e-mail, or they can enter their own trouble report over the Web directly into the SIF website. Here, a digital systems engineer at the SOC accesses the SIF portal. (U.S. Army photo.)

The Army National Guard unit in which Tumminelli formerly served as a first sergeant used SIF to quickly locate experts to resolve its equipment issues. Through it, they obtained answers to their queries, contact information for subject matter experts (SMEs), and downloadable images.

"One time, [SMEs] were able to accomplish a forensic investigation within 72 hours to help solve our problem," said Tumminelli, who, in 2008, served with the 50th Brigade Embedded Training Team under Task Force Phoenix, in support of the U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations forces. "We literally relied on SIF every day during our deployment."

Program Executive Office Command, Control, and Communications Tactical (PEO C3T) developed SIF to streamline and enhance its support to the warfighter. Before SIF, Army Battle Command System (ABCS) 6.4 users had 11 separate numbers to call for support. Warfighter feedback indicated that PEO C3T was providing exceptional support, but improvement was needed for the processes and tools used for synchronization.

Assigned to PEO C3T’s Project Manager Battle Command (PM BC), ABCS 6.4 is a suite of digital systems with separate capabilities that allow warfighters to plan logistics, track one another’s whereabouts on a topographical map using Global Positioning System technology, plan fires, access weather information, share intelligence, predict improvised explosive device threats, and manage airspace.

As separate individual field service representatives used various tools, such as the telephone or Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, to report issues on a daily basis, PEO C3T realized that a singular, centralized approach to support was necessary; thus, SIF was created. Before, commanders pulled together information from various sources that used separate tools to create a report.

Upgrades Planned
Efforts are underway within PM BC to make greater enhancements to SIF’s capabilities. The SIF portal Version 2.0 will introduce a fresh appearance, feel, and navigation that are more intuitive, according to John Wilder, SIF Product Director.

Wilder explained that many of the improvements to SIF were based on user feedback. "We have a User Advisory Group that allows us to gather feedback from our stakeholders," he said. "In addition, we conducted extensive usability testing and worked with human factors experts to craft a new user experience."

The upgraded version is expected to include enhancements, such as tighter integration among tools and personalization capabilities, to allow users to return more easily to their most frequently visited pages and capabilities. This upgrade will be the first of a series of planned releases that will include enhanced search capabilities, increased personalization, improved training management, and increased knowledge management capabilities—to allow both warfighters and support personnel instant access to troubleshooting and "how-to" information for all systems and equipment through a single search and format.

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As long as the warfighter has access to a phone or the Web, SIF is the Soldier’s source for one-stop assistance. (U.S. Army photo.)

The SIF team also works hand-in-hand with specific programs to tailor support tools, such as the Weapon System Portfolio and Incident Reporting Module (IRM) to fit each’s support infrastructure and processes, according to Wilder.

The Weapons System Portfolio is an Army Team Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) online resource, providing data on Army Team C4ISR systems and technologies. SIF’s IRM is used to initiate trouble tickets on the aforementioned systems to the SOC.

Version 1.0 of the SIF portal and its supporting SOC went live in January 2007. The concept of a centralized support center was new to the Army community, as historically, it relied on a matrix of stovepiped support structures that used individual, separate help desks, tools, and processes to assist in field support and problem resolution. This proved to be a challenge for those needing support as they were required to track down specific help desks that supported specific systems.

Since the portal’s introduction, PM organizations have recognized that it is easier, less expensive, and faster to use SIF for systems and equipment fielding support, as it is increasingly becoming the authoritative data source for all equipment-related fielding, logistics, and support information, according to Wilder.

New Enhancements
With the SIF version 2.0 release, users will note an upgrade of SIF’s incident management capabilities to include both problem and asset management. Other SIF enhancements include newly designed unit and equipment pages geared to dynamically bring together real-time information on fielding, support personnel, and incident tracking in a single view, to help provide unit commanders with more complete operating status information.

"FY10 will be a very significant year for the SIF," predicted Wilder.

 
Did You Know?
  • 071910_symbolic_timeline_thumbs_0032_1987.jpg1987 - Technical documentation for SealandSymbolic Systems creates technical documentation for all business processes for Sealand, an enterprise transportation company.

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