FORT KNOX, Ky. – A specialized smartphone and tablet app is revolutionizing how users can navigate and keep up-to-date with military installations, especially for those moving to new duty station.
A partnership between the U.S. Army and the Exchange has led to the creation of Digital Garrison, which is customized for each individual installation. Army Installation Management Command public affairs specialist Sarah Luna said the app is designed to help anyone who accesses an Army post, or wants information about a particular one.
“Anyone can benefit from it,” said Luna. “You don't have to be on the installation in order to access the services and information available."
Luna said the app provides a host of resources to help military members become acclimated to a new installation. For those arriving at Fort Knox, for instance, she said there’s a perfect starting point once the Digital Garrison is downloaded.
“The Newcomer's Guide should be your initial stop,” said Luna. “In addition to that, there's the Installation Directory, which lists all of the different services like housing, child care and more, to see what's available even before you come to the installation. You can look at the maps and get all of the information you need to kind of map out your life at the post."
The mapping functionality goes one step further than simply helping get a lay of the land, according to Luna.
"There's a search function, so if you know what place you need to go, you can just enter that building or that key information and hit the little magnifying glass, and it will take you right there,” said Luna. “It then connects to Google Maps and will take you to the location that you're trying to access.”
Luna advised that while the app uses Google Maps to help route you to your destination, users are better off going directly through Digital Garrison to find where they need to go.
"The information in the Digital Garrison is going to be the most accurate,” said Luna. “It's updated by our public affairs officers, so Google Maps may not bring up the exact information that you would find in Digital Garrison, oftentimes.
“We hear time and time again of when people who are new to an installation put something in Google and can't find it, or wind up someplace that is not correct."
In addition to being able to use the app for mapping their new installation, Luna said incoming Soldiers will find an array of other resources within the Digital Garrison – including one in particular that will help them prior to their PCS.
"You can go into our library and access the Army PCS Move app, which helps you connect with all of those things you're going to need as you're going through your move,” said Luna. “We know that sometimes that can be really stressful.”
Once Soldiers and Family members arrive at Fort Knox, Luna said the next step is to allow the app to continually provide updates.
"You can opt in for push notifications so you are aware if there's any post news being put out, such as inclement weather [or] if a gate's closed: if there's any kind of emergent information to be aware of,” said Luna. “If you opt in, that information then delivers directly to your phone."
Luna explained the app will also provide notifications about general happenings around the installation, so users are always the most up-to-date.
"The Digital Garrison will put out announcements about events, town halls, changes of command, outdoor recreation, youth services, and a lot of the fun things that are happening on the installation as well," said Luna.
In the event a user encounters a problem or has a question or idea about something the app could offer to improve its functionality, Luna suggested the best place to go is the app itself.
"You can go directly to your account and hit 'contact us,'” said Luna. “That should be the most direct route."
In an effort to consistently enhance the user’s experience, Luna said the Army is in constant contact with its partners at the Exchange because they also receive feedback from the military community. She recommended checking the app often to see what’s new.
“It's constantly evolving,” said Luna. “The DG you downloaded last month is not the same DG as you would update today."
The goal is to provide Soldiers, Families and all who use the app everything they could possibly need in regards to their installation, said Luna, who hopes those who take advantage of all Digital Garrison has to offer will share their comments.
"Be sure to rate us as well so we know how we're doing," said Luna. "We want to make sure the Digital Garrison is definitely your one-stop shop."