Military Jumps on the Tube

December 15, 2010
By Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Connections
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Troops now have a secure means to share videos. With the unveiling of milTube, the latest addition to milSuite, the military work force no longer needs to turn to YouTube—a practice the higher echelons frown upon—to share training or professional development clips. The set of tools known as milSuite also includes milBook, milWiki and milBlog, which all feature easily recognizable user interfaces and, more importantly, security.

Like YouTube, the video-sharing capability enables users to upload video clips that can be viewed via the Web. Unlike YouTube, the sharing takes place behind secure network firewalls, expanding the type of material that can be legitimately distributed among warfighters.

Justin Filler, deputy director, MilTech Solutions Office, explains that his team worked on developing milTube as one of its projects for approximately a year. Of particular importance was ensuring that milTube could be used throughout the U.S. Defense Department by anyone who can access either Army Knowledge Online (AKO) or Defense Knowledge Online (DKO).“We are working on allowing access to anyone who has a Common Access Card,” he explains.

Filler describes the video channel as “very secure,” because the site has received accreditation, and users are required to employ personal credentials. Material shared through the tool is unclassified but categorized as For Official Use Only. “With firewall protection, users from all branches and organizations can share official unclassified internal information and engage in dialogue,” he relates.

As social networking tools have grown in usage in the commercial world, the number of milSuite users also has surged. Across the armed services, more than 88,500 warfighters and military leaders use the tool suite. The number of requests for the addition of a video-sharing capability was high. Not surprisingly, the introduction of milTube to the milSuite family was an immediate success. Filler estimates that at the soft release of the capability, new videos were being uploaded every minute, with a few hundred available within days of its debut.

The goal of adding milTube to the milSuite is to make available an additional means to manage knowledge and create an online depository of information that is best shared visually. Developing it was not about creating standards but rather meeting needs, Filler emphasizes.

Material that warfighters can view on milTube includes news as well as videos that relate to training or official military ceremonies. By utilizing channels, categories and tags, users are able to watch, upload, sort and search video content. The capability is designed to be bandwidth-availability sensitive, alleviating frustrations in areas of operations, Filler explains.

In addition, a milSuite capability enables Defense Department members to point viewers to additional material concerning the same subject available that is available on other milSuite tools. For example, a milTube video about a change of command could be linked to the command’s milBook page, he explains.

Filler reveals that the next addition to the milSuite may be a photo repository similar to Flickr and other photo sharing sites; however, an official decision about how to continue to expand networking tools has not yet been made, he adds.
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