Imagine an app Navy reservists could use on their phones to complete mobilization documents — allowing them to avoid completing a massive stack of papers by hand.
Thanks to one officer, the service is working to make that a reality.
The light-bulb moment of inspiration came to Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Calhoun, a reservist assigned to U.S. Fleet Forces Command’s Maritime Operations Center in Norfolk, Virginia, as he completed a mobilization exercise earlier this year and was inundated with the required paperwork.
Calhoun said his new idea to this old problem involves sailors completing documents and requirements through an app that pre-populates information through their mobile phones so that they aren’t spending time filling out repetitive information like name, rank, and address by hand.
Pre-populating that information also reduces the likelihood of errors, Calhoun noted.
“It would save a significant amount of time, and what could take up to a full week to get done could be completed within just a few hours,” Calhoun told Navy Times.
“As soon as they show up to their Navy Reserve Center for mobilization, all of the information is already completed, verified and validated, as opposed to having to complete multiple different forms from scratch,” he added.
Calhoun’s idea, called “Leveraging Mobile Technology to Streamline Mobilization,” won the i3 Waypoints program last month, a new competition that Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. John Mustin established so sailors could share ideas with top Navy leaders.
“We are already moving out on the design for Lt. Cdr. Calhoun’s mobile application,” Mustin said in a Navy news release last week. “His idea to add mobile technology to our distributed activation process helps us achieve our goal of mobilizing the entire Selected Reserve force of 50,000 in 30 days, if required.”
The i3 Waypoints program —a name based on innovating something new, improving an existing program, or integrating several concepts — received a total of 107 submissions over the course of a five-week period, and the competition will proceed as an annual event.
“With such an enthusiastic response from the force, and so many great ideas to modernize the way we do business, we saw enough in this inaugural event to commit to making i3 Waypoints an annual program,” Mustin said. “Very little is more important to us than keeping the direct pipeline open for creative ideas to flow to top leadership without filter or disruption.”
Calhoun, who served five years active-duty and eight years in the Reserves, said he would encourage others who’ve thought of concepts to improve the Navy to make their voices heard because leadership was receptive to the presentations exhibited at the i3 Waypoints competition.
“I think coming out of this process, I’ll definitely encourage others — if you have an idea, speak up, because leadership is willing and eager to listen,” Calhoun said.