Blue Innovation: IAF Hackathon Blue Innovation: IAF Hackathon Blue Innovation: IAF Hackathon Blue Innovation: IAF Hackathon 40 soldiers from the IAF left their units and gathered for a three-day software development marathon, as part of a general innovation initiative

Nadav Berger

Another step in the IAF race for innovation: Around 40 soldiers left their offices and arrived at the Microsoft office in Ra’anana to participate in a three-day “Hackathon” in which they developed ten new applications and software programs to be integrated into different divisions of the IAF. The “Hackathon” is an event that brings together software professionals and project managers for a short predetermined time, during which they combine forces to turn ideas into concrete capabilities. Events of this kind are becoming very common among civil development societies and are now commonplace both in the IAF and IDF in general.

Years-long processes in just days
The IAF “Hackathon” is a direct continuation of the Air Force’s application contest. During the contest, hundreds of people joined to think of new ideas to improve the IAF. The suggestions were examined by their potential contribution to the Air Force, the number of people they will affect, and the ability to carry them out in a short time. “The goal of these projects is to take months-long processes and conduct them in only few days”, explains Major Yair, an IAF officer for innovation. “We have people from various fields and our aim is to provide solutions for every problem in the most efficient way”.

The soldiers, both officers and regular soldiers who had a suitable background, were chosen for the project. They came from all units in the Air Force, from units that deal with software development and units that do not. In addition to the soldiers from the IAF, soldiers from the Israeli Navy, the Mamram Computer unit, and the 8200 intelligence unit also participated in the “Hackathon”. Among the programs that were developed were a registration and management system, a professional management literature system, and an application for managing the leasing vehicles of the soldiers serving in the force. In addition to the contribution of the software itself to the smooth management of the force, the event brought about an opportunity for soldiers from different units to compare notes and share knowledge, which will help the developers during their daily routine.

Part of A Long Process
The event, which was held last week, was not a one-time event, but a continuation of the emerging innovation processes in the IAF as part of its general strive for innovation. “Every organization, of course an operational organization like the IAF, requires creative, innovative thinking”, says Captain Omer Yuval, the Innovation Project Officer of the IAF. “The ‘innovation stage’ is a central tool in managing breakthrough processes in the IAF. In the short period of time that we have been dealing with the field of innovation, many technological platforms have shown great interest in our endeavors and have created partnerships that will directly affect the missions of the force in all areas”.

“Encouraging initiation and innovation is a long process that has only just started and will continue to expand over the coming years”, added Colonel G, Head of the Planning and Organization Department at IAF Headquarters. “Its contribution is reflected in the software itself, in saving resources, in sharing knowledge, in connecting different units, and most of all in the fact that it makes the participants continue to initiate, to enhance, to impact, and to think different”.