The March of Mobile Computing

Posted by Kathleen Smith

We love technology, so we attended AFFIRM’s in-depth look at mobility this morning to learn what’s happening in the world of mobile devices, apps and the like as it relates to the federal government. 

Simply walking down the street or riding the metro means you know there has been a dramatic increase in smartphones and tablets (iPads!) over the past year. The growth has been fueled both by personal use and by an increasingly mobile workforce, as well as the explosion of social media.

In 2012 it’s estimated that sales of desktop/notebook computers will be 430 million units, while sales of smartphones alone will be 460 million units. In Japan 84% of web pages served for social networks were from mobile devices. This is our future.

Voice usage of smartphones has declined while data usage has increased dramatically. That’s one of the challenges with mobile – bandwidth usage and the struggle to provide acceptable, cost-effective service with ever increasing data usage. In fact a number of the speakers referenced bandwidth as a much greater issue than security.

The feds are doing a number of things to implement and test mobile devices and apps. Some interesting nuggets:

Lt. Col. Amy Torres, Director Secure Go Mobil for the U.S. Army, shared that iPads are being used now in DoD by some individuals as a version of very large three-ring binders filled with ‘Secret’ information. The device’s bluetooth has been disabled (jailbreak!) to make the iPad secure. This allows users to carry reams of documentation to meetings on a small tablet vs. what would have previously been stacks of three-ring binders.

Gwynne Kostin, Director Mobile with the GSA says the user experience is going to change with mobile devices. Form will follow function so the way we do business will quite possibly change, even though we’re not sure what those changes will be yet. For example individuals may not need the traditional office suite on a phone or tablet that is found on a desktop or laptop computer.

GSA is also assisting other government agencies in developing apps. Check them out at, especially the app from the IRS that helps you track your tax refund!


This entry was posted on Thursday, April 14, 2011 8:24 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of updates to this conversation