Officials at the Defense Information Systems Agency have launched a new centralized conferencing service that they hope will assist in information sharing across the force.
Known as Enterprise Audio Conferencing, DISA officials said the service is beginning to take hold among participating Defense Department agencies.
"As contracts and lifecycles expire on other audio conferencing systems services, our mission partners are discovering the many benefits of using DISA's Enterprise Audio Conferencing," said Ren Boyd, project lead for EAC. "We have seen a steady increase in demand, as a result."
Unlike decentralized systems, which may or may not talk to each other across various networks, EAC allows users to connect with others without pauses, disruptions and breaks.
The service is accessible anytime, anywhere - including deployed environments - using commercial or DSN lines, according to Boyd. Toll rates might apply for commercial calls.
According to the agency's frequently asked questions white paper, EAC is a "reservation-less conferencing service" that offers users a permanently assigned bridge that can be used at any time, night or day. It is touted as being capable of "virtually limitless access to enterprise, centralized ad hoc audio conferencing."
What this means is that as many as 40 users can dial into a conference call for as long as needed to work through issues without worrying about getting bumped from the service. And according to Boyd, almost all DOD-affiliated employees can utilize the service.
"Any service member or DOD civilian is eligible," said Boyd. "Contractors sponsored by government employees are also eligible."
Security is also built into the system.
According to the FAQ white paper, each bridge requires a unique dial-in, access code and pin number that users will need to know to access teleconferences. A chairperson is assigned the pin, which allows them to control the bridge. The chairperson also has the authority to lock a bridge or add a passcode, if necessary.
If there is a need for more than 40 personnel to join a conference call, the sponsor may submit an email request to the DISN Customer Contact Center Incident Management address for greater participation: at email@example.com.
Boyd said feedback from customers since the service originally launched a pilot version in 2014 has been positive.
"DISA has received a positive response overall to the service," said Boyd. "The reservation-less conference feature has been particularly popular. It's like having a personal audio conferencing service."
One of the features that has been particularly appealing is the ability to use smart devices during conference calls.
"EAC currently has the capability to allow smartphones to initiate or participate in any EAC-hosted audio conference," said Boyd.
Boyd explained that while some changes will occur to the service to meet technological advances, EAC is here to stay.
"We are continuously looking at ways to improve the services we provide," said Boyd. "The platform will likely continue to receive minor upgrades, but for the foreseeable future we plan to continue with this concept."
(Editor's Note: For more information on EAC or to request to be a user, call toll free 844-347-2457, Option 2 or commercial 614-692-0032, Option 2. Request the "DISA Enterprise Audio Conferencing Users Guide.")