Recently, I attended a seminar presented by Bisnow called “The Future of Mobility.” There were two presentations: one by a panel of Government experts involved in mobile, and the other a panel of entrepreneurs in mobile communications.
The first panel talked about government efforts to facilitate mobile computing (think smartphones and tablet computers) in the Government. Many government workers have been lobbying for “anywhere, any device” access, and the government sees the advantage of moving people to mobile platforms, in particular reducing the high cost of hardware and hardware maintenance, as well as landline phone, PBXs, etc.
A key concern for Government use of mobile is data and communications security. Agencies have been working hard to secure smartphone and tables used by government employees. A secure version of the Android operating system has been developed, although currently only one phone meets the specifications to run it. A particular, ongoing challenge is that phone technology changes very quickly; by the time a phone has been approved for secure use, it’s no longer available in the market. One government speaker said that “Industry needs to focus on making new secure phones inside the refresh cycles.”
A related topic, lobbied for by many government workers, is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). In essence, employees are saying “I already have a smartphone that I like, and I want to use it for both personal and business use.” However, there are many issues still to be addressed before this becomes reality. One example brought up by the panel was “Suppose I take a picture of my child with Grandma with my BYOD phone. If my phone needs to be wiped for security purposes, does the Government have any responsibility for ensuring I can still access my Grandma picture?”
The Federal CIO has defined an mGov initiative to coordinate mobility initiatives across the Federal government.