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Mobile devices still face integration challenges

Feb. 13, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
Samsung Unpacked 2013 Episode 2 In Times Square
Mobile devices still lack the full confidence of some agencies. (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images for Samsung)

When Daniel Doney, the chief innovation officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, gets to work every morning, he leaves his smartphone in his car and switches to his agency-issued one-way pager.

Though an attack on a mobile device network is improbable it is still possible and prevents the agency from fully embracing mobile devices, according to Doney. This concern over security is not an unusual phenomenon. As agencies ramp up their use of smartphones and tablet technology there are still significant challenges remaining before they are fully integrated into agency operations.

Speaking at the Adobe Digital Government Assembly on Feb. 6, Doney said the DIA is making progress in incorporating mobile devices into its operations to help recruit younger federal workers and to boost productivity.

“We are right on the verge of being able to crack that nut,” Doney said.

Daniel Risacher, associate director of enterprise services and integration at the Defense Department, said at the conference he has a government-issued smartphone he cannot take to most of the places he works. Instead, he has his computer print his schedule on index cards.

DoD has struggled with the security issues of mobile devices while recognizing how transformational the technology can be if harnessed safely, he said. DoD components are working with the Defense Information Systems Agency to develop an enterprise-wide mobile device network, he added.

“There is lots of promise but lots of challenges remain in the defense and intelligence space,” Risacher said.

Avi Bender, the chief technology officer at the Census Bureau, said at the conference the agency pays attention to security issues but has embraced mobile devices to engage taxpayers as well as collect and disseminate data.

But he said the real challenge will be using mobile devices to help transform agency operations and save money by boosting productivity and encouraging efficiency.

He said the integration of smartphones and mobile devices should encourage agencies to rethink how they perform their missions.

“It’s about how we take these enabling technologies and fundamentally rethink our business models,” Bender said.

Kathy Conrad, the principal deputy associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and innovative Technologies, said GSA is working to remove barriers to producing mobile friendly content and developing the software needed to make mobile devices more valuable.

GSA has set up a program to share Application Programming Interfaces – the information developers need to tap government data with their apps -- and allow agencies to use them without developing their own.

“Mobile is not a trend, it’s a revolution and it’s here to stay,” Conrad said.

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