While garrison commanders and other Army leaders rely on Digital Garrison to communicate critical information during emergencies, a global push notification test April 22 highlighted an opportunity for improvement.
Digital Garrison is the Army’s free mobile app that communicates important information and connects Soldiers and their families with a full array of on-post services and events. One of its capabilities is push notifications intended to deliver emergency information about gate closures, inclement weather or disruptive events. Commanders at multiple installations successfully used these push notifications during last year’s hurricane season and recent winter storms.
During an April 22 test of Digital Garrison’s ability to push notifications to its global audience, the app incorrectly sent two messages without identifying them as tests.
“While we were encouraged by Digital Garrison’s ability to instantly reach a global audience, the false alarm highlighted an opportunity for improvement. Steps have been taken to mitigate the potential for future miscommunication,” Tom Shull, Army & Air Force Exchange Service director/chief executive officer, said.
Digital Garrison is a partnership between the Army and AAFES. The Army’s point person is Lt. Gen. Doug Gabram, commander of the Installation Management Command.
“Digital Garrison is a primary tool for commanders to keep their communities informed,” Gabram said. “In the Army, we maintain and test our weapons and other tools regularly. Today, our test wasn’t perfect, but we reacted quickly by correcting misinformation, learned a couple of important lessons, are addressing what happened so it won’t happen again, and continue to work with our garrisons and AAFES to improve this critical technology every day.”
Digital Garrison is customizable by the user to provide information specific to one of 63 Army installations. That number will grow in the coming months. The app integrates information about installation services provided by IMCOM, Army MWR, AAFES and the Defense Commissary Agency. Individual users switch between Army bases they want to visit and set up their account to accept push notifications and other announcements via the app.
“This global test, albeit imperfect, showed about 15% of Digital Garrison users have opted in to receive push notifications and announcements. This highlights an opportunity to further encourage users to receive notifications because commanders use them to provide critical information in times of emergency,” Shull said.
Current users should open Digital Garrison and go to the Account icon at the bottom of the landing page, and from there choose Communication Preferences to opt into these features. Digital Garrison is a free app available on the Apple and Google Play stores.
Users can set up their account, select their installation and opt in for notifications. Users can then choose to link to their ShopMyExchange.com account to use Digital Garrison’s ability to shop with AAFES and have purchases for in-store pickup or shipped to their home.
“Digital Garrison is another great way the Army and the Exchange partner to improve the everyday quality of life for Soldiers, civilians and families,” Gabram said. “We are working together every day to make it even better. If you haven’t yet downloaded it and discovered what it can do for you and your family, you should. This is especially true for those who are about to PCS.”
Digital Garrison links users to the Army PCS App, the Army Maintenance App, the Interactive Customer Evaluation System, privatized housing maintenance apps, newcomer and COVID information, and much more. Digital Garrison is part of the Army’s move from the industrial age to the information age. Download it for free today.