Air Force logistics goes for rich Web experience

Flash-based dashboards enable logistics personnel to track a variety of metrics

The Air Force has deployed Flash-based dashboards that let logistic personnel track a variety of metrics relating to the readiness and status of inventory.

Roundarch, a Web site design and development company based in Chicago, working as a subcontractor with Lockheed Martin, developed a series of Rich Internet Applications that provide a graphic user interface specifically for the Air Force Portal, including the RIA-based summaries of live logistics and mission support data, said Colt Whittall, vice president of Roundarch.

Air Force personnel can create presentations that automatically update with current data and changing historical trends, he said.

For several years the Air Force logistics community has been working to aggregate data into a data warehouse, said Tony Tran, also a vice president at Roundarch. Business intelligence tools were built on top of the warehouse to receive the type of analytics and reports they needed.

However, they discovered that the tools were overkill for the basic needs of the majority of their users and the tools were not easy to customize, Tran said. “The tools weren’t giving them a consistent experience because there were so many different BI tools,” he added.

Using Adobe Flex, a software development kit based on the Adobe Flash platform, Roundarch developed dashboards to give personnel more information about the quantity and shipment of equipment.

During the past three years, Roundarch has developed top-level summary dashboards for senior leaders. These dashboards provided online slideshow presentations with real-time data, covering assets such as vehicles and munitions. Now the framework has been expanded to include inventory tracking, supply and transportation areas, Tran said.

For example, aircraft availability can be displayed next to supply information, so if there is a maintenance issue, personnel can see why supply inventory isn’t getting to the plane on time for repairs, Tran said.

RIAs free cycles that traditionally were handled by a server because presentation and business logic are embedded in the Small Web Format files that get downloaded to the Web browser when a user requests information, Tran said. As a result, the browser doesn’t have to pull information from a server to update presentations, Tran said.

This also gives users a rich, cinematic Web experience, he said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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