Agencies test user ideas for mobile tech

When the Federal Aviation Administration considered mobile technologies, it's managers asked employees to come up with practical business applications that would save the agency money.

The result is that mobile is now being deployed or tested in 52 “use cases” throughout the 50,000-person agency, Rob Corcoran, manager for architecture and applied technology in the FAA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, said at a seminar on April 3 that was part of 1105 Media's FOSE trade show in Washington, DC.

Overall, about 1,100 mobile devices are currently deployed throughout the diverse agencies for many types of applications, he said.

“Our focus was on how mobile can be used to enable business,” Corcoran said.

The proposed use cases were rigorously analyzed to determine that they would add value and reduce costs, and some of the proposals were rejected, he added. The ones that were accepted are saving the agency money.

For example, the FAA’s legal department has saved $100,000 in each of several legal actions with an iPad application that displays radar images, photographs, charts and other visual evidence in a conference with other parties to the case. Previously, such evidence could not be easily displayed while in a conference room with a defense legal team.

“Many cases have been terminated in those meetings, when the defense realizes what evidence will be used in the case,” Corcoran said.

Another business case was made for safety managers who must wear special gloves while working near high-voltage electrical lines. They are now using an iPad application that allows them to remotely access critical data and instructions without removing the gloves, Corcoran said.

At the Veterans Affairs Department, executives are testing out applications for distribute mobile devices to field workers to help identify shelters, food programs and other aid for homeless veterans, said Stephen Warren, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Information and Technology.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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