By Joseph Lacdan, Army News Service
New app simplifies housing repair requests
Soldiers living in barracks and other non-privatized Army housing are now able to file and track maintenance orders from the convenience of their smartphones using one uniform system.
The Army Maintenance Application, or ArMA, allows Soldiers and their families to instantly interact with public works clerks instead of making walk-in appointments or phone calls. The app will not apply to residents of privatized installation housing.
The app will eventually become the primary tool for maintenance inquiries for residents at service-operated housing across the Army, said Luis Miranda, a housing management specialist at U.S. Army Installation Management Command.
Residents currently file requests differently at various installations with some sending email requests and others inquiring through their post’s website. Doug Enfield, a management and program analyst at IMCOM, said ArMA will simplify the filing process.
“Wherever they live, they're going to have one single place for them to go,” Enfield said. “When they move, they'll just change their registration and what building they're in, but they'll still use their same account and the same app.
“[ArMA] is absolutely going to create ease of use as opposed to having to talk to somebody [and] find out their phone number. They're going to be able to do this all from their fingertips.”
The app, developed by IMCOM and a private contractor, was released Tuesday. Instead of launching ArMA in app stores, IMCOM will make it immediately available through a website -- www.armymaintenance.com -- where users must register to access the application.
“The app is actually the website,” Enfield said. “It makes us available on all platforms without having to update the app. It allows us to literally be available on any device in the world at any time, as long as they're connected to the internet.”
ArMA, part of the Army’s wider effort to improve quality of life for Soldiers and their families, will also be accessible through the service’s Digital Garrison app. Digital Garrison connects residents with installation services including their post exchange and morale, welfare and recreation programs.
IMCOM currently has two pilot programs underway, one for family housing at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria in Grafenwoehr, Germany, and another at the Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for barracks.
ArMA uses a simple interface where residents can submit requests and provide a description of their case. Residents can take photos of the maintenance problem using the app’s camera feature and they can also access a maintenance catalog and list of services.
A request must meet certain requirements to qualify as a work order. For instance, Enfield said, a request to wash a home’s windows would not qualify, while a broken window would warrant repairs.
Users have an option to submit questions and provide feedback in the app. Residents may also create a “household” folder within the application, which allows family members to monitor each order’s status. When a work order has been approved, residents will receive a text message or email when the status has changed.
Miranda said that public works employees can submit questions about work orders directly to the customers who filed the request and the residents in turn can provide instant replies. Responses in the app’s user surveys will be instantly viewable by garrison command teams.
“[The app] will be the most productive and efficient way for the residents to submit their work orders,” Miranda said. “Instant feedback is what ArMA provides to the customer, which is something that we never had before.”
Enfield added that barracks residents have experienced delays in filing requests through different entities, which prompted the need for a more direct connection to public works.
“When the resident had a problem in their barracks room it wasn't always getting up to the right channels at [directorate of public works] to get fixed,” Enfield said. “We wanted to connect the residents directly to their maintenance without creating layers of having to find the right person or get it into the right channel.”
Enfield added that the maintenance app as well as Digital Garrison are run through a secure, federal network, assuring that residents’ personal data will be protected. The app also provides Soldiers another option to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“People are just spending more time in their residences as lockdowns happen and they work from home,” Enfield said.
“We wanted a way for our tenants to be able to interact with their maintenance through an application so that they could report a problem at any time of the day or night,” he added.