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SparkED Team: keeping innovative ideas rolling

  • Published
  • By Giancarlo Casem
  • 412th Test Wing

Electric scooters are now available for use at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The electric scooter share program is a first for the Air Force, said Command Chief Master Sgt. Ian Eishen, the 412th Test Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant.

“Today is the result of over a year of work with multiple Airmen in Contracting, Civil Engineer Group, Mission Support Group, Force Support Squadron and across the base,” Eishen said.

Eishen added that the program is also the first off-grid, solar-powered scooter share in the DoD.

“If it was easy, this would have happened a long time ago but I am glad that we finally have this capability for our Airmen,” Eishen said.

Interested riders must download the Spin app on their smartphones and sign up for the program and are able to utilize the scooters for a small fee of $1 to unlock and $0.15 per minute to ride. Airmen residing at the base dorms may be able to ride the scooters free of charge in case of personally owned vehicle issues, Eishen said.

The scooters are currently located at Wing Stop, Higher Grounds and the Commissary with plans to expand to more locations, such as billeting and the base clinic, after user feedback. Base-specific rules are covered in the Spin app, and mirror current rules for bicycles on base.

The genesis for the base’s scooter-sharing program originated during one of the Wing’s Innovation campaigns organized by the SparkED Innovation Team.

“Innovation created the culture of change where any Airman, at any level, believed they could raise their hand, and say I have a better way,” said Britney Reed, SparkED Team member. “With help from AFWERX, the Difference, Gaping Void, strong support from Wing Leadership, and a team of dedicated first adopters, the first two Eddie campaigns, ‘Eddie’s Big Quest’ and ‘Eddie Needs the Right Ideas,’ were a huge success. Edwards AFB was the most active Air Force Challenge on Ideascale as of February 2019 Air Force wide and lauded by AFMC We Need’s Team in Fall of 2019 as “one of the most progressive wings when it comes to innovation.”

The 412 TW Innovation Team, known as SparkED, was designed to grow a network of collaborators, share ideas, like the Spin scooters, and foster a results-driven culture of innovation. The SparkED team quickly responds to innovation initiatives with resourcing options for idea owners, facilitate rapid project start-ups and promote a culture of innovation. The team aims to inspire Airmen to bring tomorrow’s tools to the warfighter today. The scooters are making transportation needs of Airmen more accessible to carry out a greater mission, Reed explained.

The Spin scooters is just one of the innovative ideas that sprung from innovators that the Wing has implemented. Reed said that implementation of these innovative ideas may be a long and difficult process, but does not want innovators throughout the base to be discouraged.

“We get hundreds of really good ideas in every Ideascale challenge and through innovators directly contacting us through our social media channels,” she said. “Unfortunately, many ideas will not make it to fruition for various reasons, time, money, legal constraints, etc. When a project like the scooters, the electronic weather stations, the Mamava pod for nursing mothers in Building 3000, the solar-powered golf carts, the fall projections bags, and the re-useable containers at the DFAC actually get implemented, it feels like a community-wide success.”