TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 601st Air and Space Operations Center at Tyndall Air Force Base recently benchmarked a new program as students of Collinsville Middle School in Collinsville, Okla., got a first-hand look at the center's operations floor by way of a live virtual video tour over the Internet.
"The live video tour with Collinsville Middle School was a not only a first for 'America's AOC,' but for any AOC in the world," said Col. Randy Spear, the 601st AOC commander. "We are living in an age where QR codes and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are a part of our everyday vernacular. Virtual tours via the Internet just seemed like a natural progression and a very effective way to tell our story."
Kathy Prickett and students of her sixth-grade class first viewed a 601st AOC welcome video introducing the class to the center's mission. The video was followed with a live video tour, during which students were shown the operations floor and spoke with members of the 601st AOC.
"It was an awesome experience," said Prickett. "My students in Oklahoma were able to see and hear how the AOC operates and how they protect our skies without us having to leave our classroom. We were able to go right to the source for our information. I look forward to the possibility of setting up another video tour with the AOC next year during our unit on aviation."
Col. David Garner, the 601st AOC Combat Operations Division chief, explained some of the issues the 601st AOC faced in launching these video tours.
"Anytime you start a new process or program for the first time, it's going to present challenges," said Garner. "For us, the issue was that our AOC's operations floor normally operates in a classified environment. We can sanitize the area for tours, but we also need to have the ability to go back to full-up operations at a moment's notice."
Solutions to issues like that took some creative thinking, but the 601st AOC has developed the proper technical solutions and procedures to deal with these issues.
"We treat these tours like we would if the people on the other side of the camera were actually here," said Garner.
"By utilizing video tour capabilities, we are able to greatly expand (with whom) and how we share our mission," he said. "We can literally show off our AOC to someone halfway around the world. Now that's a tool that should be utilized."