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595th SCS Airmen create air show app

Airman 1st Class Ebony Crawford, 595th Strategic Communication Squadron strategic software programmer, who led the iPhone programming section for the 2018 Air and Space Show app, reviews the code for the program June 6, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. This year’s app will involve live updates on parking and performers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Hammes)

Airman 1st Class Ebony Crawford, 595th Strategic Communication Squadron strategic software programmer, who led the iPhone programming section for the 2018 Air and Space Show app, reviews the code for the program June 6, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. This year’s app will involve live updates on parking and performers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Hammes)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

Airmen with the 595th Strategic Communications Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, launched the 2018 Air and Space Show app for Android and iPhone Aug. 1, 2018.

Coding apps is a challenging job for many programmers, and this was one of the first projects the Airmen workedair on after arriving at Offutt AFB after technical training.

“I didn’t know the language we were using or the development environment we were using,” said Airman 1st Class Dalton Edmisten, a 595th SCS strategic software programmer who led the programming for the Android app. “There was a huge learning curve. Once you’ve got some base knowledge, though, it’s relatively easy. It’s just time and effort.”

It was very important that the app be efficient, user-friendly and dynamic, Edmisten said. That kind of thinking was key in the production of the app. Unlike past years’ apps, this app is intended to be re-used year after year, which lets the programmers design one app rather than a new one each year.

Airman 1st Class Ebony Crawford, a 595th SCS strategic software programmer who led the iPhone programming, said the reusability of the app will save the Air Force time and money.

In the past, the 595th SCS would spend months each year designing base and year-specific apps for air shows at other bases. This year’s app can be linked to those air shows, eliminating the need for the 595th SCS to create apps from scratch for individual bases.

“If we’re doing the same process and app for a bunch of air shows, we’re going to save a lot of time and money if we just kind of have one template and let people add information where they need to,” Crawford said.

The team at the 595th SCS is also emphasizing form and function in the app.

“It’s something a lot of people are going to be using, and people are very visual.” Crawford said. “The way it looks can really change the experience for people.”

The team has also acquired developer IDs, which allows them to create an administrative app from which they can push notifications.

“This way, if the schedule gets pushed back or – god forbid – there’s an emergency on base, being able to push out a notification through the app itself gives the user the ability to read the information and know what to do,” said Airman 1st Class Gabriel Stines, a strategic software programmer with the squadron who worked on the app development team. “Being able to push notifications is a huge functionality that this app will have, that others haven’t.”

Push notifications will also allow the app to be updated in real time with information about parking availability in each lot, countdowns to other air shows and moment-to-moment updates on performance schedules.

Maj. Hunter Horste, the lead on this year’s air show, said apps like this are key to air show success.

“It’s important that there’s an air show app so that everybody coming to the air show can receive live updates,” he said. “If the parking lots are full, if there’s any kind of weather delay or anything like that, they can get live updates on their phone. The app also has a map of where everything is on the ramp.”

These updates, in addition to the reusable nature of the app, help the 595th SCS run more efficiently.

“Basically, by frontloading an application like this, you’re doing more work at first, but then over time, the more air shows that use that app, the higher a return is on the time and money you spent,” Stines said.

Horste said this year’s air show will provide a variety of experiences for attendees.

“The air show this year should be a lot of fun, with the F-22 and F-35 demos and U.S. Air Force heritage flight, he said. “We are looking to have some more STEM-related activity for kids to participate in. We’ll also have some returning favorites, such as the 501st Legion and a lot of our favorite civilian performing acts.”

The 2018 Air and Space Show app can be downloaded for Androids at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=usaf.airshowapp and for iPhones at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/usaf-airshow/id1416143764?mt=8.