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How a small Air Force team used Vertex AI to overhaul their manual processes

As part of an effort to overhaul and accelerate processes within the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force Chief Data and AI Office wanted to explore how Generative AI could help modernize current processes, which were draining the time and energy of their service members and directly impacting their mission to supply airpower anytime, anywhere. Speeding up processes would help Airmen focus more time on the core challenges of their mission and less on the paperwork supporting that mission.

One process they identified as potentially benefiting from Generative AI technologies was their e-Publishing website. This site is home to thousands of documents that active duty, associated civilians, guard, and reserve service members use to check non-classified policies and regulations, such as dress and personal appearance standards or specified career field operations. The existing system was cumbersome and heavily saturated, making navigation time-consuming. Airmen often struggled to find policies they needed to reference, while new members could be saddled with hours of sorting and sifting to learn what would be expected of them.

The Airmen that worked with Google Cloud on this project consisted of volunteers with various skills, ranging from project management to UX development. These volunteers could dedicate six to eight hours a week on top of their normal duties, which meant they had a strict deadline in mind. They also needed to complete the project and showcase it to their leadership within 90 days.

Generative AI and ML tools help developers move fast

After evaluating the different models available to them through Vertex AI, the team decided to use Vertex AI Search and Conversation, previously known as Generative App Builder, to create a new portal for searching, browsing, and reading e-Publishing PDFs. Using these tools, the small team of volunteer developers were able to create a fully functional search portal and chatbot within their 90-day deadline.

Choosing Vertex AI gave the Air Force team several key advantages. The platform is designed for developers of all skill levels, from those with deep technical experience to those who are just starting their journeys with AI/ML solutions. For example, the Dialogflow tool allowed developers to build hybrid agents that combined the power of precise conversation controls with the flexibility of generative AI. This meant developers created chatbots for complex and dynamic conversations while providing a natural and engaging user experience. These tools brought Airmen with different skill sets together and allowed them to choose how involved they wanted the development process to be. Ultimately, Vertex AI Search and Conversation made the thousands of PDFs easily searchable and consumable. The Air Force team has turned a process that would normally take three or four hours into one that takes a single minute and enables them to work with AI in a crawl, walk, run approach for the Department of Defense (DoD).

Feeling inspired and looking to leverage the next generation of AI/ML tools? Try Vertex AI.

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