Adam Gartenberg's Blog

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Sametime: "The Official U.S. Army Chat Room Software"

I'm always on the lookout for good examples of organizations extending Unified Communications & Collaboration beyond their traditional "knowledge workers"... and I can't think of a more demanding example than the US's Army's new Green Force Tracking system, a slightly customized version of Lotus Sametime. How are you using Sametime outside of the office environment?

"The Army - which plans to use the software at garrisons, posts and forward bases - is now loading the software onto computers in Kuwait in order to bring more Green Force Tracking terminals to forward operating bases in Iraq.

"One analyst said Green Force Tracking could make a huge difference by connecting soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with the units that preceded them in their mission areas. "If I go to Iraq, I can reach back and ask about a mullah or a mosque or an intersection," said Daniel Gouré, vice president of the Lexington Institute, a Fairfax, Va.-based think tank. "It can really help the knowledge base. This is the Army really thinking."

"Gouré said the expansion of Green Force Tracking might even cut down on deployments. "It will be easier to find someone who has the requisite knowledge you are looking for," he said. "Also, this will allow you to use people with specialized skills in the Guard and Reserve without having to mobilize them."

"A typical use is for officers and troops of a unit headed for a combat zone, to get in touch with the troops they are replacing. This brings the new guys up to speed a lot more quickly, and provides them with email addresses of people they can get in touch with if they run into something, or someone, they believe the departed unit may know about. It's this kind of contact that the army wants kept secret, for obvious reasons. Despite warning the troops to only conduct this kind of communication via an encrypted Internet connection, that is not always possible. Green Force Tracking will help solve that problem, as well as making it easier for troops to transmit classified pictures, videos and documents.