Homegrown Airman Tracking System saves time

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Time is valuable, especially in the Air Force. 

Now, Sheppard's Airmen-in-training and military training leaders can save a lot of it.
Airmen-in-training must be accounted for at all times to ensure they maintain proper phase and for MTLs to keep an eye out for them. So every time they leave their dorms, they must sign in and out. 

Since the middle of April, Sheppard training dorms have used the new Airman Tracking System, a streamlined Airman check-in and out process and curfew-check program. 

The system doesn't involve implanting computer chips into Airmen's ears. However, the technology is such that it can save an Airman up to 30 minutes a week and MTLs up to an hour a week, said Master Sgt. Tim Bamburg, from the 360th Training Squadron, said.
Instead of signing in and signing out at the charge of quarters desk each time he comes and goes, an Airman just swipes the barcode of his common access card under one of the check-in and check-out scanners, which are controlled by a computer at the desk. 

To conduct a curfew check, an MTL only has to mouse-click on reports in the ATS computer program, and in seconds, the computer displays a list of Airmen who are checked out of the dorm that is categorized by phase. Before, MTLs had to sift through several sign-in/out sheets to determine which Airmen were out past curfew, if any. 

"The best benefit is accountability," said Senior Master Sgt. Terry Neuharth, superintendent of the 82nd Training Wing Training Operations office. "We know whether our Airmen are in or out of the dorms, and phase checks are much simpler." 

In August, wing leadership expressed the need for a tracking system. Sergeant Neuharth and his office tracked some down. 

"We ran into many dead ends for the project," he said. 

In February, about five or six vendors demonstrated their systems, but none were in Sheppard's desired price range. One wireless system cost about $115,000. With that system, Airmen would have had to carry around an extra chip card that sent a signal every time they left the premises. 

After the demo day, 882nd Training Group's Tony Carmosino designed the $6,000 system that is in every Sheppard training dorm today. 

"It is cost-effective and easy on the Airmen because his program uses something the Airmen were issued already, their common access cards," Sergeant Neuharth said. 

They put his system through a two-week test beginning April 1 in the 882nd TRG dorms. Sergeant Neuharth said the only bug was if Airmen scanned two cards simultaneously, the system didn't register them.

 Mr. Carmosino ironed out the kinks, and after the two-week test, he and Sergeant Neuharth presented the program to 82nd Training Wing Commander Gen. James Whitmore for review. The system became fully functional in every dorm by May 1. 

"It makes our jobs much easier," said Airman 1st Class Shane Blankenship, CQ worker at the 360th TRS. "Plus, it's much quicker to check in."