Portal offers new secure network tool similar to Facebook

By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson: Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON — Air Force Portal Web designers are keeping up with the Web 2.0 era by offering portal users a new means to engage in professional communications in a secure social media environment.

After initial tests among some 7,000 users in the Air Force’s logistics community, the portal’s newly developed professional networking capability, similar to Facebook and LinkedIn, is now available to more than 800,000 users worldwide.

“The Air Force Portal’s professional networking capability is a secure, behind-the-firewall, solution where airmen and warfighters can communicate and collaborate professionally, leverage data and information, and share knowledge across chronological and geographical boundaries,” said Lt. Gen. Bill Lord, chief of warfighting integration and chief Information officer.

This new capability, developed by designers with the Global Combat Support System-Air Force, features an enhanced “Personal Space” where an Air Force Portal users can customize and personalize their workspace with photos, Web and portal favorites and can post updates on their network wall just like they would on a public domain site such as Facebook.

To access their wall, portal users simply go to their existing Personal Space and click on the “Network” tab or click on the new “Network” link in the top right of every portal page. Creating contacts through a new-people search function is all that it takes to start networking.

“Portal users can connect and reconnect with others in the same job function regardless of organizational or geographic boundaries,” said 1st Lt. Alexander Gruenther, Air Force Portal operations chief at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.

Behind this secure firewall, users can microblog to share information or post questions as well as use the previously existing Air Force Instant Messenger tool.

“In addition to keeping up with colleagues, we wanted this capability to be something that would help airmen do their jobs more effectively and efficiently,” Lieutenant Gruenther said. “Airmen have proficiencies in a host of career fields, and having a secure site will allow these “subject matter experts” a place to share knowledge.,”

The Air Force Portal can be accessed with a common access card from work or home, and has security measures in place that Facebook and other social media avenues don’t have when it comes to the types of information Air Force members need to communicate with each other.