The AF Portal, which launched in 2001 to centralize internal information on the Web, soon will be accessible on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. (Air Force) ()
By the end of December, the Air Force plans to roll out a new portal for its primary Web gateway, the Global Combat Support System-Air Force, where airmen can centrally access mission apps and other internal information.
Here’s what users need to know about new features:
Mobile access.The redesigned AF Portal will now support mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
Just as they do on their computers, users will log in on a mobile device using a Common Access Card or public key infrastructure certificate. The portal will detect the device’s screen size and adapt the display automatically, paring down the feature and adopting the functionality that works best for that device.
“The team studied industry trends and acknowledged the shift to mobile information access anywhere, on any device,” said 2nd Lt. Rett Rayhill, the AF Portal service area lead at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. “In order for us to remain relevant, it was a logical next step to support mobile access.”
Broader reach. The redesign stemmed from a requirement to support users in low-bandwidth locations, such as overseas bases within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and geographically separated units in the U.S.
The portal is geared for multiple uses, whether by a service member trying to access personal information while deployed or an airman using a tablet to update an aircraft’s status on a flight line in areas such as Afghanistan, said Justin Oakes, with 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs at Hanscom.
Better navigation.The portal was reorganized and streamlined to make the system easier to use and navigate.
“The old system had become cluttered, difficult to navigate and was in need of an update,” said Danielle Dunn, the GCSS service area lead at Hanscom.
“The look and feel has been updated to reflect today’s Air Force,” she said. “The design helps users find their applications and information more quickly and efficiently.”
“My Stuff,” one of the new design features, allows users to personalize the system’s functions and organize quick access to favorites, alerts, workspaces and applications of personal interest.
For example, an airman can customize his or her workspace to include information and links needed for a job or career field.
Information sharing. Users will be able to compile information and then transfer it to other users. Such transfers would be useful before an airman leaves a location, similar to a continuity binder.
AF Portal groups, already available, also provide airmen with similar interests a forum where they can discuss and share ideas related to their career fields. Some of the most active groups are related to Air Force Specialty Codes.
A work in progress. The AF Portal launched in 2001. It has more than 750,000 active users and an average of 400,000 unique weekly log-ins. Future updates will continue to focus on user needs and technology upgrades, Oakes said.