Tinker AFB uses data analytics to improve gate wait times

  • Published
  • By Clayton Cummins

There is a new tool being utilized to help ease traffic backups at gates entering Tinker Air Force Base. Defenders at the 72nd Air Base Wing Security Forces Squadron are now using data analytics to help predict gate traffic and assist defenders with day-to-day staffing.

Tinker AFB is the first base in the U.S. Air Force to begin using the technology for gate monitoring.

Nearly 30,000 people work at Tinker, making it the largest single-site employer in the state of Oklahoma. With that volume of military and civilian personnel entering the base each workday, traffic can easily become a problem.

“It’s not only a frustration point when you talk to the senior leaders at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, they also highlight that it is an impact to production,” said Lt. Col. Ronnie Synakowski, Deputy Commander of the 72nd Mission Support Group.

A recent analysis discovered that over 16,000 vehicles enter the base each day via the Liberator, Lancer and Hruskocy Gates. The analysis found that a delay of just five minutes each day was estimated to impact production as much as $5 million to $7 million a year.

The data analytics technology is accessed through a web browser, established by the Department of the Air Force Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Office. To begin the process of making a prediction into the future, Defenders input traffic data from any gate.

“If Security Forces would like to plan for a Tuesday that is two weeks in the future, they can look at the calendar date and use historical information to generate an expected flow of cars to the base for a 24-hour period,” said Dr. James Stockton, Lead Data Scientist for the Contractor Support Team at the Department of the Air Forces’ Chief Data and AI Office. “It (data analytics) generates a prediction for how many cars are going to arrive on base at each of the gates as a function of time from midnight to midnight.”

Another obstacle Defenders face in staffing gates is the constant fluctuation in manpower due to deployments.

“Right now, our senior master sergeants who are doing the scheduling and trying to apply the resources most effectively across gates are going off experiences in the past,” said Synakowski. “They might know that there is a week in August where everybody is done using their summer leave, the kids are back in school, nobody is taking leave, and the gates can be really bad.”

Right now, the Tinker Gate App utilizing data analytics is a proof of concept and continues to be calibrated. Changes are still being made, including adding the ability to allow traffic data to automatically load into the app, and automatic notifications of potential troublesome days in the week ahead.

“Once we have everything fully calibrated, the Air Force Security Center is very excited to see this reach full operation capability and then scale to other bases that may need it,” said Synakowski.