While government might seem behind the times as Americans are already accessing massive amounts of data through their cell phones, smart phones and other Internet-connected devices, the “Federal Executive Insights on Mobility in Government”opening panel for FOSE 2011’s Enabling the Mobile Government Workforce session track showcased how agency officials view their data and what they’re doing to get that data out to you.
NSA’s Troy Lange, speaking on a panel at FOSE, Federal Executive Insights on Mobility in Government.
This session gave FOSE 2011 attendees a new look inside the mobilization efforts of govenment. Here are a few key points that were made:
- Mark Day, Chief Technology Officer at Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), said that data about the housing market is important to get out to the public. Mobile applications, for example, can allow people to help flooding victims find rental properties. On the whole, mobile applications / platforms are available. The real challenge is getting the data to those applications. HUD, said Day, wants to be device agnostic. The challenge is presenting data that people can use. Day stressed the need to partner more with the private sector to make use of existing platforms to get data out there.
- Tim Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer at Department of Transportation (DOT), echoed what Day said about the need to get the data out there. He said that the focus is on making content more rational so it can reach multiple devices. DOT wants to get applications and data to the market quickly. Schmidt also discussed new mobile technology, like the IntelliDrive program designed to enable cars to communicate, so drivers can know where all cars are on the road. Mobile has great potential to improve road safety
- Gloria Richmond, Air Traffic Control Communications Administrative Telecommunications Manager at Federal Aviation Administration, talked about the FAA’s move to a VOIP (voice over IP) structure, which gives their workforce more mobility. She said that mobilizing those who work on keeping the flying public safe by getting them “into the field” is a significant step forward.
- While all the panelists talked about the availability of technology and the need to get data and information out and available to the public, each stressed the need for security.
- Troy Lange, Mission Manager for Mobility at the National Security Agency, talked about how good mobile technology can be used for malevolent purposes. For example, how do you stop rouge transmissions that interfere with a system like IntelliDrive? How do you prevent terrorists or other hostile individuals from stealing government assets (mobile devices) and being able to use them? At the end of the day, Lange said that “we have to come up with a way to make things secure and balance that with the user experience.”
In terms of mobility in government, it is clear that the heads of government agencies want to get make their data available for public consumption and to work more closely with the private sector. The government wants to get information to market faster, and not be in the business of developing new technology platforms.
Perhaps the greatest challenge, however, rests on the government’s desire to offer a positive user experience, while maintaining that delicate balance with security.
FOSE 2011: Cartwright Stresses Digital Modernization, Competitiveness as Keys to Military and Government
There will be more than a few perspectives offered today on U.S. Marine Corps General James “Hoss” Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s “Competitive Advantage for the Warfighter” opening keynote at FOSE. In listening to the General speak I found that he sounded at times like a chapter out of Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave, talking at length about the need for digital modernization and a departure from industrial era thinking.
General James E. Cartwright, USMC, delivers the opening keynote at FOSE 2011
Key points from General Cartwright’s opening keynote:
- We are faced with a $15 trillion deficit. Even if we shut down the DoD for 10 years we would still not pay that off. The financial realities coupled with our moving from an industrial age to a digital age present significant challenges.
- “What are the implications of social media?” Cartwright says the DoD needs to understand social media better. One person’s collaboration tool is someone else’s weapon. So, what does social media mean to the military? How do you deal with it across the globe? As an example, he talked about the “Arab Spring.” In Egypt and elsewhere, you have large groups of people massing quickly through social media, but they have limited decision-making ability. How do you respond to that? This is a challenge for the military going forward.
- In his view, the cyber command is critical. But Cartwright stresses that we cannot keep it isolated – people have to know what technology assets are at their disposal. Perhaps General Cartwright’s most controversial comment was that the DoD is “in the Stone Age.” But he emphasized that he’s the type who is never happy with the way things are.
- DoD needs to find ways to modernize more quickly and efficiently. He again touches on the idea of moving from the industrial age or factory model of production / development to a more technologically sophisticated approach. One would think that this applies to the acquisition process in the government as a whole – not just DoD.
- “People will tell you the solution to everything is the cloud. It’s not.” Yet, he does believe the cloud is a huge leveraging tool. But at the end of the day, the DoD has the processing power and storage. The challenge is moving that data around and making it mobile, while keeping it secure.
- Another key set of comments from Cartwright were on culture. He said that culture bias in government and the military creates challenges to progress. People are used to doing things a specific way. Some culture changes have not lasted, and people have reverted back to the old ways of doing things that are not optimal for the modern age. Cartwright stressed, “Perfect information late is useless.” Regardless, Cartwright does believe that “diversity will always carry this nation further” than one inventor.