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CHIPS Articles: Distance Support...Technical Assistance at Your Fingertips

Distance Support...Technical Assistance at Your Fingertips
By ETCS James P. Delaney - October-December 2001
Fleet systems today are becoming increasingly complicated requiring interconnectivity capability, comprehensive IT training and enhanced troubleshooting skills. Many times, when your system has a problem the help entails more expertise than is available on the ship.

What if you could reach the technical expert that you needed, any time of the day or night, regardless of where you are located. You could discuss your problem, get advice, transfer pictures, test equipment results, and solve the problem before the ink is dry on the CASREP message. Does this sound too good to be true? Well don't be too skeptical because the future is now and the technology presently exists on your ship.

The idea of Distance Support is not new but it has been updated and enhanced with the latest technology. Through the use of the SIPRNET and your personal computer (PC) you can chat with the field service engineer that you need, when you need to—anywhere in the world—24x7x365—from the comfort of your ship office on the ship. You can display digital photographs of the equipment, drawings, alignment procedures, test equipment readings, just about anything you will need to remedy the problem without waiting for a technician to travel to your ship. Since the SIPRNET is cleared for classified information, you won't be limited to discuss your IT problems.

Now that we have peaked your interest, let's look at how this really works:

Distance Support can be initiated by a telephone call, e-mail or by a CASREP message from the ship. Since the Fleet Technical Support Center, Atlantic hosts the Navy Integrated Call Center—technical assistance is available for any system, from any source—24 hours a day. When you contact the field service engineer, you determine the information required and the medium in which to transfer that information.

If the information is best transferred on the SIPRNET, you and the technical representative will set up the distance support capability, passing the required Microsoft chat or Netmeeting address information via telephone or e-mail. The field service engineer then uses a SIPRNET-equipped computer to log on and enter the battle group "Chat Room". Once connection occurs, the parties are able to discuss the problems by typing questions/answers, or passing files, pictures, diagrams and other pertinent data.

Further arrangements can be made to allow the distant end to complete a set of tasks that provides needed feedback to the technical representative to continue the technical assist. The distance support technician can even monitor your progress and offer further help through the use of the video camera provided in the Distance Support Kit.

After completion of the chat session, the results can be saved as a permanent record and kept as history until the technical assist is completed. It can also be used as a trouble log for future requirements.

So how do you get the required access? You can contact the Navy Integrated Call Center at WWW.ANCHORDESK.NAVY.MIL or by telephone at 1-877-4-1-TOUCH. You can contact FTSCLANT at 757-443-3872 or the FTSCLANT Duty Officer at 757-439-3391.

ETCS Delaney is the Operations Officer/Chief Knowledge Officer for FTSCLANT.

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