Obama: Government Agencies Have One Year To Deploy Smartphone-Friendly Services4:01 PM EST Wed. May. 23, 2012
President Obama announced Wednesday a new "Digital Government" initiative that mandates all federal agencies to deploy mobile apps for at least two of their respective government services by this time next year.
The aim of the program is to create a model by which American citizens have easy, on-the-go access to government services via their smartphones and tablets rather than having to sift through a "labyrinth of information across different Government programs" to find what they are looking for.
In the directive he sent out to agencies, Obama made note of Americans being able to do things like pay bills, buy tickets and check airport wait-times on their mobile devices but still struggling to access government-issued services. The "Digital Government" initiative, he continued, is designed to change that.
"Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere, and on any device. By making important services accessible from your phone and sharing government data with entrepreneurs, we are giving hard-working families and businesses tools that will help them succeed," Obama said in a statement.
Agencies have been asked to follow a 12-month roadmap, as outlined by the "Digital Government" program, to deliver information in ways that take full advantage of mobile and web-based technologies. In addition to making at least two services available via mobile devices, agencies are being tasked with creating online resource portals for third-party developers and implementing analytical tools to gauge customer satisfaction on all ".gov" web sites.
Obama positioned the new program as an opportunity for the federal government to not only make the "mobile shift right along" with American end-users, but to spark job creation as well.
"The Administration is also ramping up its ongoing efforts to make large amounts of government data more easily accessible to the public to spur entrepreneurs to develop innovative new services and mobile applications that take advantage of this data, creating new opportunities, businesses and jobs in the process," the press release said.
NEXT: What Gov. Mandate Means To The Channel
One of these new business opportunities will be awarded to the channel. As government agencies strive to build out new mobile strategies, many of them need to make sure they have in place a robust wireless network to support them, explained Kyle Yost, a partner at En-Net Services, a Frederick, Maryland-based solution provider that specializes in the public sector.
"We do wireless networking, and this is certainly going to enhance or spur agencies to install or upgrade their wireless network," Yost told CRN.
In addition to building out wireless infrastructures robust enough to support the "Digital Government" initiative, solution providers face an opportunity to step in and establish the security measures needed to move forward with the plan risk-free.
"It sounds like you are going to have a million different types of devices that are going to need to connect to the network, and the wireless networks are going to need to handle this, all while being secure," Yost said. Bob Venero, president and CEO of Future Tech Enterprises, a solution provider based in Holbrook, New York, agreed that Obama’s new initiative opens up new doors for the channel.
"I applaud the direction that Obama is taking around the mobile app initiative," Venero told CRN. But he also said that, without the proper guidelines in place, it’s a move that could blow up into a massive security breach of personal information including social security numbers and tax records. "[You] have to be very careful about what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it," he continued.
Ultimately, though, this risk could be good news for the channel, as it demands the involvement of enterprise security experts who can help steer agencies down the right path.
"There absolutely is an opportunity for companies like Future Tech to help give guidance around the mobile app space," he said. "And, in my opinion, what he [Obama] should do is put together a group of folks that are non-government that can help build out and provision and help give guidance around what should be done."