updated 10:10 am EDT, Thu May 24, 2012
Obama order forces agencies to make two public apps each
President Barack Obama has ordered all major federal agencies to make more services available on mobile devices in the next year. The administration wants to increase governmental technology use, with agencies ordered to make services available for public access within 12 months. The news comes at the same time as reports that the US Navy will add LTE capabilities to three of its ships, allowing Android smartphones to be used out at sea.
A statement by Obama bemoans the fact that, with the advent of online commerce and account management of commercial services through mobile phones, Government services are for the most part "not optimized for smartphones or tablets, assuming the services are even available online."
Following Executive order 13571 (Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service), which asked agencies to cut costs and service delivery times to improve customer experience, the "Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People" strategy asks agencies to improve their digital services using a 12-month roadmap. The strategy is made to encourage agencies to deliver information in new ways that take advantage of the Internet and mobile systems, keeping information secure and private when necessary, and cataloging online resources for developers on a central site. Agencies have 90 days to create a subfolder to publicly report progress in meeting the strategy requirements, in an effort for transparency.
The US Navy is installing a microwave-based wireless wide-area network on the USS Kearsarge, USS San Antonio and USS Whidbey Island ships, reports Wired. Although the ships will still run their main communications through sattelites, the network will allow individual sailors to use NSA-secured Android smartphones, primarily to allow the handsets to send video and collected data back to the ship in real-time. The network will not be used for general communications, but may allow for inter-ship connections with a range of 20 miles between masts.
This places the Navy in a similar position to the US Army, which has previously worked with Android devices for military purposes.