DISA piloting wireless portal

Continuing its focus on becoming more customer-friendly, the Defense Information Systems Agency has established a prototype wireless portal for customer account managers.

The fledgling portal is designed to enable DISA's customer account managers to download to a personal digital assistant all the information they need to support customers, regardless of where they are located. Information can be sent or retrieved from anywhere in the world with only a two-second delay, said John Hooder, who heads DISA's information technology implementation branch.

The portal uses the Defense Department's classified and unclassified networks as well as the commercial Internet. It was built in 30 days to prove that the concept of a wireless portal is viable, Hooder said. The portal is housed at the Sheraton Hotel in Alexandria, Va., two blocks from the agency's headquarters.

Customer account managers are tweaking the prototype now and will conduct a more comprehensive proof of concept with DISA field offices in May.

"This is a portal demonstration using wireless technology for the customer account managers to draw information for the services so that we can have better, faster service for our customers," Hooder said.

The effort is part of Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr.'s 500-day plan for making DISA more customer-friendly. He has established customer account managers so that customers have only one point of contact rather than having to wade through DOD's bureaucracy.

"This is a very simple project. We had a simple problem: We had to get fast action to the customer to tell them the system was down. That doesn't sound too bad unless he's [in] Bosnia," Hooder explained.

"The reason we wanted to do this and start using PDAs was because we wanted to make sure the [customer account managers had information] readily at hand," Hooder said. "Because PDAs had this capability, we built this portal so that they could download all the information, two ways, in a secure environment."

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