TASC, Inc. has successfully prototyped applications that can be integrated into users mobile devices out in the field, the company said.
The applications would allow a standard iPhone, iPad or Android to task a satellite and retrieve imagery. The devices would also be able to talk to each other and carry massive amounts of documents.
It’s the difference between a solider carrying a mobile device or 12 binders under his arm, according to Tony Dahbura, technical director for TASC’s mobile apps group.
“The weight of a mobile device does not increase no matter how much records material contains,” he said.
For soldiers already carrying packs in excess of 50 pounds, the ability to transport and transfer data in a handheld device is crucial. The lightened load would also decrease the cargo weight on planes moving soldiers to the field, he said.
The applications available are currently for unclassified information, Dahbura said. He expects the industry will develop solutions for classified information in two to three years.
The applications attempt to streamline day-to-day tasks, but they present several challenges. The apps must be able to communicate with backend systems already in place and be built upon secure code. Most importantly, the device running the apps cannot be dropped or compromised while in use.
Dahbura said TASC’s engineers have been able to overcome these issues and that the existing iOS and Android operating systems include encryption standards that help keep data secure.
One of his developers said to him, “there are more certificates on my device than the entire data system had five years ago.”
Most service members have required little training, Dahbura said, as the applications are based on commercial products they use in their personal lives.
He said this is the first time he has seen the industry, the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community aligning on the need for mobile applications to improve efficiency by giving end users more control of information.
“What’s really shifted in the IT arena is that the user is really in charge of the data and how they use it and how they get to it,” he said.
Dahbura said budget cuts will not have an effect on the development of mobile applications and may encourage their implementation as a strategy for cost containment.