Mobile

Making sense of mobile data management

A dramatic shift has occurred in the government's approach to managing mobile data. Traditionally, agencies provided employees with mobile devices that were preloaded with approved applications. That approach restricted the way data was accessed and allowed the agency to retain maximum control over its information.

Unfortunately, the agency-issued device was not always the platform of choice from the user's perspective, and over time, employees gravitated back to their own devices. That dynamic has forced the government to evolve from focusing on mobile device management to mobile data management.

According to a recent white paper by Good Technology, the benefits of secure mobile data management are significant. For example, the company estimates that encouraging mobile data access in a police department could save officers as much as 30 minutes a day by allowing them to quickly check for outstanding warrants, use mapping applications and access translation services. A wide range of federal workers could see similar time savings.

 

Although the benefits are clear, moving from mobile device management, with clear restrictions and well-defined security, to mobile data management means more data becomes visible outside the organization, which increases the probability of accidental data loss and deliberate data breaches. To minimize those risks, government agencies should consider taking the following steps.

1. Choose which platforms to support. The IT department first needs to determine which platform or platforms it will support. Unfortunately, no two platforms are the same, so each one will require a unique approach and specific adjustments. Additional platforms also mean more customized work for IT departments that likely are overextended already.

2. Decide which data to allow. The next step is determining which data should be accessible over the mobile network and how users will be allowed to interact with that data. Deciding which data should be accessible and which should not might sound like a simple task, but there are numerous levels of access and each one must be fully addressed.

Once this step is complete, IT departments should continue to approach the issue from the employee's perspective: How will users interact with the mobile data, and will they have the ability to access it, edit it and/or delete it?

3. Develop a governance plan. Ideally, all policies, governance and restrictions for mobile data management should be grouped into a comprehensive, organizationwide data governance strategy. Decisions about data security typically rest with the chief security officer, who has traditionally been focused on procedural matters such as how to sign in guests or perform security checks on vehicles. But with the exponential growth of data, the CSO's role has been expanded to keep agencies from becoming swamped in a sea of data.

Because building consensus about the rules and policies required to govern mobile data is a complex challenge, large-scale change over the short term will be difficult. What is possible, however, is departmental, incremental change.

To help overcome the challenges of mobile data management, we might see the rise of a new position: a point person who is strictly responsible for data management and acts as a liaison between the CSO and the IT department. That individual would help ensure that informed decisions can be made about what information should be shared and accessed via mobile devices on government networks.

Bringing new insight to the growing challenge of mobile data management will help departments keep projects on track and secure.

About the Author

Chris Grossman is senior vice president of enterprise applications at Rand Worldwide.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Wed, Jul 9, 2014 Basicun Incorn Washington DC

As a government employee I can tell you our policies around cell phones, laptops, and tablets are so outdated. Some entity needs to step up and set a standard set of policies that we can all follow. Well written piece here however.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group