The Pentagon’s Warfighter Capability Demonstration Center (WARCAP) is making a big move in 2011 to implement more nimble, flexibly-configurable video teleconferencing solutions. In an average month, WARCAP’s VTC team supports one major exercise and two or three demonstrations of emerging technology. End users and subject matter experts join in classified and unclassified briefings and conversations with top military leaders.
“Warfighters themselves can talk to the leadership. Guys on the floor of an Air Operations Center brief capability of the technology and its value — or lack thereof.” Anna Santos de Dios, Director of the Air Force’s Warfighter Capability Demonstration Center (WarCap) told us more. “Using VTC for exercises lets us bring the field experience right into the Pentagon. Senior decision-makers based here, who often lack the time or budget travel to event, can get in one room or on the same call, and bounce ideas around about what they’ve just seen.”
WARCAP offers its clients three VTC options.
DISN VIDEO SERVICES GLOBAL (DVSG) uses Tandberg systems to link multiple sites but each participating site is a fixed conference room and must be equipped with DSVG-specific hardware. AT&T schedules the VTC and allocates bandwidth.
Internet-Protocol (IP)-Based VTC is about to get a lot more popular. This approach is used between two points that each connects their Tandberg MXP-IP coder/decoder (Codec) or similar gear (like the Polycom VSE-7000 IP-based Codec) to connect to the network used to conduct the military exercises and demos.
“Even some guy in the field with a webcam and internet access can be on the call,” said Santos de Dios. “We’ve had guys doing VTC’s standing next to their HUMVEE’s talking about how systems perform, and that’s much more powerful and memorable than someone briefing from a PowerPoint.”
But WARCAP wanted the flexibility to arrange those calls itself, to multiple points, and do it more quickly. So, WARCAP’s NCO’s collaborated with team from SAIC to come up with the solution. By April of 2011, General Dynamics IT and its subcontractor, PPI, will have installed a Multipoint Control Unit (MCU), the Tandberg MCU-4150 to improve service by bridging multiple locations.
Finally, WARCAP uses Defense Connect Online (DCO), a software-based VTC system, for informal meetings and document sharing that doesn’t require high bandwidth or ultra-high resolution video that the military exercises do. Once a computer has the software installed, plug in a USB web cam, and they’re good to go.
“The people we support — those running exercises, and those advocating more resources for work in the field — feel that VTC helps them reach audiences they wouldn’t have access to any other way,” said Santos de Dios. “The senior leaderships appreciates the opportunity to see exercises or evaluate technologies without disrupting their schedules with additional travel.
“The big challenge is that, with constant turnover in personnel that simply part of military life, we always have to keep educating people that this resource is available, so we’re always doing outreach about WARCAP’s VTC capabilities.”