(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 24, 2020) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has sent public events nationwide to a screeching halt. Sporting events, religious services, presidential election state primaries have been cancelled or postponed.

The U.S. Army has not been immune. The nature of Soldiers’ work requires that a lot of people work together. Often in tight spaces, under physical stress, and without the recommended six feet of social distancing.

Certainly innovations like Army Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and Zoom have gone a long way towards solving some of the problems facing the Army in these tough times. But there’s another resource Army units and organizations may not have thought to use, and it can be found on Army Knowledge Online (AKO) 2.0.

AKO Communities are essentially websites created within AKO to support an organization or knowledge community. They may include various features including an About page, Activity Stream, Assignments, Blog, Calendar, File sharing, Forums, and more.

SharePoint/AKO Developer Jeffrey Scroggins, said his organization, the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) chose to create an AKO Community about a year-and-a-half ago because it has unlimited community storage, which no other platform has. This has come in handy, particularly during this current health pandemic.

“We continue to use [our AKO community] to host large presentations to share around the aviation world,” Scroggins said. “One of these was a 1.8 gigabyte PowerPoint training presentation with embedded video of the Commanding General and embedded audio. The AKO support team helped us with this and were very responsive to our needs.”

Knowledge Management Site Lead for USAACE, Michele Black, said not only was the unlimited storage of AKO Communities an attractive feature, but also the reach back capability for students once they leave Fort Rucker.

“With a CAC, students can access AKO from any place in the world,” Black said. “As the platform becomes additionally stable, word is getting out from unit to unit that this is a platform that can help them meet the mission.”

Since President Donald J. Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency on Mar. 13, the USAACE AKO Community and all of its groups combined have seen well over 35,000 page views according to Adobe website analytics.

“We use the AKO Community to enhance aviation training, readiness, leader development, collaboration and information sharing between operating and generating forces,” Scroggins said.

As an avid Community user, Scroggins said the most important lesson he could impart on new users is to lay out their community hierarchy up front.

“It must be correct at the beginning as it is difficult to change once you’ve created it,” he said. “Ensure your admins have good training up front as they can really mess up a community.”

To date, there are over 1500 Communities published within AKO. To begin building your unit or organization’s presence on AKO 2.0, please assign an AKO Community point of contact and email that information to: usarmy.belvoir.peo-eis.mbx.ako-communities@mail.mil. Or, you can visit the AKO Home Page and click the “Community Request” button at the top of the page or the “Request a Community” link under Help & Resources at the bottom of the page.