Early successes pave way for more mobile in DOD’s future, CIO says

Mobile computing has done a lot to support warfighters, and the Defense Department’s efforts are just getting started, according to DOD CIO Teri Takai. But the department still needs to improve its vetting network access processes.

Speaking at the 4th Annual MobileGov Summit Feb. 27 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Takai highlighted the success of DOD operational mobility pilot programs, reported the American Forces Press Service. The summit is designed to bring government and IT industry leaders together to discuss current issues and trends regarding government mobility solutions.

“The goal is to ensure the warfighter has access to information, anywhere, any time, on any device, and the DOD is making progress in achieving this goal,” she said. “These pilots allow DOD to gather lessons learned, identify cost reductions and improve productivity.”

One example is the Air Force’s electronic flight bag program.

In 2013 the Air Mobility Command purchased more than 16,000 Apple iPad 3 Tablets for use as electronic flight bags, replacing up to as much as 100 pounds of paper navigation charts and flight manuals. The program was designed to eliminate cockpit clutter while also letting easily use search functions to browse through lengthy flight manuals.

The electronic flight bag also can automate certain functions such as takeoff and performance calculations.

“This will allow flight crews to perform flight management tasks more easily and efficiently, with less paper -- all while increasing security and efficiencies,” Takai said. Not only could the EFB program save about $1 million annually in fuel by reducing the weight of paper-based reference materials, but new layers of security and encryption can augment protection of data, she said.

Takai also underscored the improvements in DOD certification of mobile devices. The Apple, Android, and BlackBerry operating systems have been approved; Microsoft devices are still being certified. The certifications have allowed for several recent purchases. The Army has recently agreed to buy 7,000 Samsung Galaxy Note II smartphones for its Nett Warrior program, while the Air Force has announced that it will be replacing 5,000 BlackBerry devices with Apple products.

Despite this, DOD is still figuring out how to vet applications and how to control better control network access, Takai said. The plan is to adapt DOD software and data sources to enable cloud-based services and mobile applications.

To achieve the DOD’s shift toward mobile computing, Takai stressed the need for partnerships with industrial leaders.

“We hope to see increased industry participation in DOD’s security standards, vetting tools and processes,” she said.

About the Author

Joey Cheng is an editorial fellow with Defense Systems.

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