Army tech brings high school graduations to the frontlines
June 5, 2008
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Soldiers in Afghanistan spied on their children's graduation ceremonies from Fort Campbell, Ky. area high schools May 16-24 using an advanced capability Soldiers use to support intelligence operations.
Streamed over the internet in near-real time, video captured by the Persistent Surveillance Dissemination System of Systems (PSDS2) and disseminated via Live Video Portal 2 (LVP2) made it possible for Soldiers to view the graduation ceremonies, even though many were providing their support to Operation Enduring Freedom from forward areas without a regular internet feed.
Cooperation between local schools and communications companies was also necessary to provide the welcome, morale-boosting video.
"Watching my daughter, Tamara Ortiz, graduate while I am deployed in Afghanistan is indescribable. To think that technology has advanced to the point that it feels as if I am actually in the stands is beyond words. I am very proud of my daughter and her accomplishments and if a picture is worth a thousand words then that video stream is infinite," said Master Sgt. Gilberto Ortiz, Joint Operations Center Sergeant Major for Bravo Co. 101st Division Special Troops Battalion.
In order to ensure soldiers that were on duty during the time of the live feed could see their children gradate; the Division Communications Officer (J6) downloaded the ceremonies on to the local networks, which soldiers could access later.
Preparations for graduation took students 13 years, but ensuring PSDS2 could carry the graduation took about a month and was coordinated by the J6 (communications staff element) of Combined Joint Task Force 101.
The schools also prepared for months to ensure the live feeds would be set up and work properly. "Our school district believed it was extremely important to offer live web streaming of all high school graduations to our deployed soldiers and their families. Parent involvement in a child's education is critical and we recognized that every soldier parent would want to be there when his or her child crossed the stage and received a diploma," said Michael Harris, Director of Schools for Clarksville-Montgomery County School System in Tennessee.
The opportunity to have their graduation broadcast to their parents was also important to the students. "I believe students have been very appreciative of knowing that while their Moms or Dads might not be with them, their parents were able to share in this very special moment," adds Harris.
Managed by the Product Manager for Robotic and Unmanned Sensors (PM RUS), PSDS2 is a networked system integrating intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems to provide real-time, full motion video and event data for display in the command center and dissemination of actionable information to the Warfighter.
In OEF, PSDS2 streams 16 live full-motion video feeds to over 1,400 user workstations in a bandwidth responsible manner. Dissemination via LVP2 does not require any special or unique client software, making the live-streaming video of the graduations available to every soldier parent with a computer connected to the network.