Coding Innovation

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- "Embrace innovation," is part of the 7th Bomb Wing commander's leadership philosophy, which he shared with the wing when he assumed command in February 2014.

Col. Michael Bob Starr reiterated his commitment to this value when he unveiled his priorities for the wing during a commander's call in September, challenging the command to be revolutionary in its approach to innovation.

Since then, Dyess Airmen have accepted Starr's challenge, instilling innovation into the way they conduct business. A perfect example of can be seen at 7th Operation Support Squadron.

Master Sgt. Terrance Miller, 7th OSS airfield manager, recently utilized his self-taught skills to create a smartphone app to help him and his Airmen inspect the runway.

"I've always been interested in technology," Miller said. "It's always been a goal of mine to design an app from start to finish."

The innovative app, which took Miller six months to design, allows him to streamline the data collection and work order processes for damaged runway section by geo-tagging--the process of adding longitude and latitude information to a digital photo-- the damages.

"You can use your phone to document discrepancies on the flight line," Miller said. "You can use the camera on your phone to take a picture of the damage and geo-tag and then email it so it can be input to a spreadsheet."

Miller has included other abilities into the app to make it as useful as possible.

"I designed the app to be a multipurpose tool," Miller said. "It has everything we need to inspect the runways. Besides the geo-tagging ability, it has weight and turning radius information for many different airframes, a runway surface condition calculator and even Air Force Instruction and regulation references."

The app allows airfield management Airmen to stay on top of preventative maintenance and to more easily collect data and work order information.

"It definitely makes our lives a lot easier," said Staff Sgt. Amanda Bragg, 7th OSS air field management operations supervisor. "It has really streamlined what was once a pretty time intensive process."

Although programming was just a hobby to Miller, he recognizes the importance of using this technology to his advantage.

"The process before this was not very accurate," Miller said. "We would have to go out, find the damage, take a picture of it, email it and then manually enter it into a spreadsheet. With the new app, once you take a picture, it's almost completely automatic."

While the development of an app to use for airfield management is a revolutionary approach to maintaining a safe environment for planes to fly in, it has also led to new and exciting ways to garner interest in the airshow, too.

After fine-tuning the Airfield Manager app, Miller began working on an app for the 2015 Dyess Big Country Airfest, the upcoming airshow being held here, May 2-3.

"In less than a month, I've been able to get a working version of the Airfest app," Miller said. "I've applied what I've learned from building the last app to this one. Hopefully, this app will be completely done soon."

Both apps are free to download and open for public use. The Airfield Management app is available for Android and iPhone and once the 2015 Dyess Big County Airfest is finished, it, too, will be available on both platforms.

"Being able to utilize this new technology has been fun for me," Miller said. "I've been able to learn new HTML5 capability which makes programming easier."

The Android version has had nearly 500 downloads and more than 280 active users since it was put on the market. The popularity is helping Miller branch out into other app creations.

"I plan to make more game-based apps down the road," Miller said. "But for now I'm focusing on the Airfield Management and Air Show apps. As they say in the programming world, 'code what you know.'"