JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas --
Updates on a variety of community initiatives, as well as a look at the future of automated vehicles in San Antonio, were on the agenda during the latest meeting of the Joint Base San Antonio Public/Public/Public/Private, or P4, Community Partnership Initiative meeting held at the Alamo Area Council of Governments Nov. 30.
Meg Reyes, JBSA Director of Community Initiatives, opened the meeting by telling those gathered about the 31 initiatives completed so far, which have generated $28 million in benefits to JBSA. Another 32 initiatives are either in research or development phases.
The P4 Community Partnership Program between JBSA, businesses and public entities in the San Antonio area allows JBSA and the 502nd Air Base Wing to enter into partnerships in the community to provide, receive or share installation support services for many of its municipal and morale, welfare and recreation functions.
The first JBSA Community Partnership Ideas Workshop was held in February 2014 with leaders throughout the San Antonio regional area gathering to discuss opportunities for community partnerships, with the San Antonio governance charter signed in August 2014.
The Community Partnership Program is a framework to match installation and community needs and resources to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve quality of life, as well as facilitating and sparking brainstorming of partnership ideas.
“While these community partnership proposals work to maximize the array of tools and authorities available, they are not meant to work around or outside of existing authorities and roles/responsibilities,” Reyes explained.
San Antonio is one location where the Texas Innovation Alliance is using as a real-world test-bed site to study the feasibility of automated, or driverless, vehicles in certain urban areas. The Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio is also one of the 10 national proving grounds for the vehicles.
“Fredericksburg Road has been chosen as a test-bed site for the driverless vehicles because of its long block lengths, high pedestrian use and designation as a VIA Rapid Transit Route,” said Hannah Santiago, senior innovation specialist with the Texas Innovation Alliance & Texas Automated Vehicle Proving Ground Partnership.
The subject of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or sUAS – commonly known as drones – and their use around military installations and other locations was discussed by Chris Kelly, who was most recently the director for the JBSA Air Show.
While drone technologies have advanced to the point where they are safe and affordable to own and will likely find their way into many homes over the holidays. But there are still issues to be addressed in their use, such as a public lack of understanding of sUAS, flight hazards of sUAS, airspace concerns and installation security and mission impact.
Kelly noted public messages must be created to alert people in San Antonio of the rules and regulations governing the use of these popular miniature aircraft.
Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, commander, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA, wrapped up the meeting with a look back at this year’s successes and the challenges in the new year.
“The way San Antonio came together to assist those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria highlighted Joint Base San Antonio at its best. It was an ‘all-in’ effort that showed how well we can all come together,” the general said. “2018 will be even better for us with myriad opportunities for us to shine, such as the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four tournament and the San Antonio Tricentennial Celebration.”