RAPID EQUIPPING FORCE
United States Army

COCREATE
CONCEPT

CONCEPT

“Soldiers are living and breathing the fight, day-in and day-out, so they have the best ideas for new capabilities and technologies to solve their most urgent challenges. We need to create a means for connecting those ideas with the people who can make innovations a reality.”
– SFC Adam Asclipiadis, U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force

After more than ten years in combat, Soldiers and veterans in the U.S. Army have gained invaluable experience and insight to the operational challenges presented by asymmetric threats in complex environments. The Rapid Equipping Force, launched Army CoCreate, an online community, to harness Soldier ideas and address challenges.

The Army CoCreate platform will:

  • Create a venue for Soldier-focused innovation
  • Build a community of interest, made up of problem solvers and Soldiers
  • Institutionalize lessons learned and ideas from Soldiers deployed globally
BACKGROUND

The U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) looked to industry to study business best practices and found that crowdsourcing has proven to be a valuable resource for private companies and defense organizations, such as DARPA. In 2013, REF launched its proof-of-concept crowd-powered design platform, Army CoCreate, to examine how this process could help refine Soldier challenges and find solutions.

The online platform connects Soldiers, civilians and scientists to collaborate on solutions that enhance warfighter performance and safety. Soldiers will bring the community's designs to life at two Make-a-Thon events held at Fort Benning on December 9-13, 2013 and January 13-16, 2014.

DIRECTOR'S INTENT

Develop a platform that connects passionate engineers, designers, scientists and civilian supporters with Soldiers to develop real-time solutions.

END STATE

Determine if the crowd-powered design technique can be used to capture lessons learned; as well as to assist the Soldier in refining requirements and developing solutions. Additionally, the Make-a-Thons will provide a platform to inform the larger Army community about the mobile Expeditionary Laboratory (ExLab) capability deployed by REF to theaters of operation.

HOW IT WORKS
The Army CoCreate process contains four phases and the portal will have three pages.

1. IDENTIFY PROBLEMS. (Ideas page)

Big or small, ideas are the foundation for innovative projects. Participants will identify specific Soldier challenges for the community to address. Community members will vote or comment on their favorite Soldier challenge idea. The more votes an idea receives, the more likely it is to be selected as the main Army CoCreate project.

2. SUGGEST SOLUTIONS. (Design page)

Participants will upload sketches, graphics and renderings for a Soldier solution. Solution designs may or may not directly relate to a problem identified on the ideas page. Users can like, comment or follow updates for their favorite designs. Designs can inform the main Army CoCreate project or inspirepeople who can make the idea a reality.

3. TACKLE A PROJECT. (Projects Page)

Based on the community’s ideas, designs and feedback, REF will select a main Army CoCreate project for in-depth collaboration. The moderators will post detailed Soldier challenge information such as the size, weight, power, operation and endurance guidelines. Community members will select and contribute to the part of the project that interests them the most. From the projects page, participants can start a conversation thread on any topic within the project area.

4. BUILD PROTOTYPES. (Make-a-Thons)

In the final phase of Army CoCreate, REF will demonstrate the ability to receive electronic blueprints and rapidly prototype from a forward location. The Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) Fort Benning will host two, week-long innovation workshops called Make-a-Thons where the resulting virtual designs from the online community will be prototyped using 3D printing capabilities and the REF expeditionary lab. Make-a-Thons will take place December 9-13, 2013 and January 13-16, 2014.

WHO SHOULD PARTICIPATE

Anyone can join this online community.
  • Active Duty Soldiers
  • U.S. Army Reserves and National Guardsmen
  • U.S. Army Research and Development Subject Matter Experts
  • Other Department of Defense personnel
  • Veterans
  • Civil and Mechanical Engineers
  • Labs, academia, and industry solution providers
  • Any Civilian with an interest in supporting the warfighter
Visit ArmyCoCreate.com today and register for an account. This site is open to the general public.

PARTNERS

ABOUT THE U.S. ARMY RAPID EQUIPPING FORCE (REF)

The Rapid Equipping Force is the Army-sponsor for the Army CoCreate effort. As a function of the U.S. Army, REF provides urgently needed capabilities to U.S. Army forces deployed globally through its unique acquisition authority. REF focuses on harnessing current and emerging technologies to improve operational effectiveness and fill capability gaps.

ABOUT THE MANEUVER CENTER OF EXCELLENCE (MCoE) CAPABILITIES DEVELOPMENT AND INTEGRATION DIRECTORATE (CDID)

The MCoE CDID will host and provide participants for the two Make-a-Thon events at Fort Benning. The MCoE, through CDID, conducts research, development and experimentation to ensure the Army’s future Maneuver Force is prepared and equipped to fight and win in a complex future environment.

ABOUT EXPEDITIONARY LAB MOBILE (EXLAB)

With the Ex Lab capability, REF is able to rapidly prototype and engineer solutions to the urgent operational needs of forward-deployed Soldiers. In Afghanistan, REF operators accompany units on patrol to observe tactical and equipment challenges. With direct Soldier input, they are able to design, prototype, and deliver custom solutions in the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: WHAT IS CROWDSOURCING?

A: Crowdsourcing is the outsourcing of an activity to a large, undefined online crowd of people. A question or problem is posed, members of the crowd submit potential solutions, without dialogue, refinement or validation, and the activity sponsor chooses a solution they believe is the best for their current need.

Q: WHAT IS COCREATION?

A: Unlike crowdsourcing, "cocreation" relies on a web-based dialogue not just between the crowd and the organizer, but also within the members of the crowd itself. Users and the experts who have the knowledge, skills and tools to bring ideas to life collaborate to deliver better, more relevant results in a shorter amount of time.

Q: WHY REF?

A: The Army CoCreate proof-of-concept effort is a natural evolution of the REF mission to rapidly develop solutions and quickly get them to Soldiers on the battlefield. REF will use this proof-of-concept to increase Soldier participation in requirement refinement and solution development.

Q: CAN ANYONE BE A PART OF ARMY COCREATE COMMUNITY?

A: Yes. Anyone can be a part of the community. In fact, active duty military, reservists, veterans and the general public areencouraged to participate. Simply log onto ArmyCoCreate.com to register and learn more about Army CoCreate.

Q: WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT FOR ONLINE COMMUNITY MEMBERS?

A: It depends on the person. Similar platforms have attracted more than 10,000 members over several years. The Army CoCreate platform will be live and available to the public for several months. Participation is voluntary and will vary by individual.

Q: HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?

A: Log onto ArmyCoCreate.com to register and contribute your ideas and designs today.

Q: CAN I PARTICIPATE AT FORT BENNING EVENTS?

A: The Make-a-Thons, hosted by MCoE, are by invitation only. If you are an active duty service member and would like to be considered for participation, please contact kenneth.b.strayhorn.civ@mail.mil.

Q: I AM AN ACTIVE DUTY SOLDIER. CAN I PARTICIPATE ON THE ARMY COCREATE PORTAL DURING NORMAL DUTY HOURS?

A: The Rapid Equipping Force is not authorized to task any Soldier to contribute to Army CoCreate. Participation is voluntary and participation during normal duty hours must be addressed by the appropriate Chains of Command.

Q: I AM ON A GOVERNMENT COMPUTER AND AM HAVING TROUBLE ACCESSING THE SITE. WHO DO I CONTACT FOR ASSISTANCE?

A: Please contact support@armycocreate.com if you are experience technical difficulties accessing the portal.

Q: HOW WILL WE MEASURE SUCCESS?

A: The success for this proof-of-concept will be measured in multiple ways including, but not limited to, community participation levels, the ability to refine and properly articulate requirements, and the capacity to create a virtual design that can be manufactured.

Q: WHO CAN SEE THE INFORMATION AND POSTS ON THE ARMY COCREATE PORTAL?

A: The portal is open to the general public. Information posted to this web page must maintain Operational and Information Security protocols. Be aware that anything posted to this page will be visible to any and all visitors. It is your responsibility to make sure that you do not post sensitive information, images or material. For the convenience of those employed or contracted by the U.S. Government or Military, please see our operational security (OPSEC) link on the Army CoCreate homepage.

Q: I AM A BUSINESS DEVELOPER. CAN I SUBMIT MY WHITE PAPER TO ARMY COCREATE?

A: Army CoCreate is a portal to empower Soldiers to participate in solution development and is not intended for industry proposals or white papers.