It should come as no surprise that the Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the agencies leading the way in mobile device adoption and management. Given the global reach of Defense operations and missions, mobility in one form or another has always been a way of life for the agency. The focus now is on evolving, consolidating, and streamlining mobile operations to enhance overall effectiveness of DoD personnel – whenever and wherever they are located.
Shortly after the Federal CIO (Steven VanRoekel) and CTO (Todd Park) released the Digital Government Strategy, the DoD released its Mobile Device Strategy. The direction given by VanRoekel was to spur innovation and leverage the full potential of mobile devices – and the DoD with the leadership of its CIO Teresa (Teri) Takai, is doing just that.
The DoD strategy notes that “through faster access to information and computing power from any location, field units can maneuver unfamiliar environments with real-time mapping and data overlay capabilities; soldiers can identify friendly forces; engineers can take pictures of mechanical parts for immediate identification and replacement ordering; and military healthcare providers can diagnose injuries and remotely access lab results while away from hospital premises.”
In order to keep the DoD on the forefront of innovation, the agency is focusing on advancing mobile information sharing capabilities, with specific attention on how to identify the right mobile devices, establish a robust and efficient wireless infrastructure, and evaluate supportive mobile applications.
The strategy, released June 8th, outlines three primary goals:
1. Advance and Evolve the DoD Information Enterprise Infrastructure to Support Mobile Devices: Improves wireless infrastructure to support the secure access and sharing of information via voice, video, or data by mobile devices.
2. Institute Mobile Device Policies and Standards: Establishes policies, processes, and standards to support secure mobile device usage, device-to-device interoperability, and consistent device lifecycle management.
3. Promote the Development and Use of DoD Mobile and Web-Enabled Applications: Provides the processes and tools to enable consistent development, testing, and distribution of DoD-approved mobile applications for faster deployment to the user. Establishes policy, processes, and mechanisms for appropriately Web-enabling critical DoD IT systems and functions for mobile devices.
While mobility is not new to the DoD, supporting the rapid expansion of mobile devices on the network does present some new challenges. First, the DoD must find ways to evolve spectrum management processes and expand its infrastructure to support the growing population of mobile device users and the growth of wireless networks.
Second, as the strategy notes, “mobile devices expand the boundary of threat.” Using mobile devices opens up agencies and organizations to a new multitude of security risks, beyond the traditional viruses, malware, and data breach scenarios. Additionally, while it is more cost-effective to rely on commercially-available mobile devices, these devices do not come equipped with security controls, access protocols, and other information assurance features required by the DoD. As such, DoD must establish mobile device policies and standards, mobile device management monitors, and undertake a workforce training program to ensure users understand the appropriate use of mobile devices and applications for work-related functions.
As a first step – to properly and effectively implement a more robust mobile strategy, the DoD has identified three broad categories of users: enterprise-wide, executive, and tactical support. Each category carries out distinct functions and requires access to information at various classification levels and a range of environments and terrain conditions.
The goals and objectives outlined in this new strategy serve as an excellent point of departure for the DoD to move ahead with mobile advancement and adoption. What’s next for the mobile DoD enterprise? The DoD will move forward to develop an implementation strategy to address some of the challenges and goals outlined in the strategy, as well as a communications strategy to offer guidance regarding the acquisition of future mobile technologies, and to address cultural challenges associated with enterprise-wide mobile device adoption and deployment.
For additional information on the new Federal Digital Government Strategy check out our article, Feds Drive Mobility Forward with Major Digital Government Initiative.