US Army Going All the Way with Mobile
According to this short article over at Informationweek.com, the US Army is really taking mobile seriously. Beyond simply creating a branded mobile app, the Army will begin distributing smartphones to soldiers as standard issue equipment.
The Army began a test program earlier this year to evaluate the capabilities and usefulness of certain mobile apps (one mentioned in the article is supposed to allow soldiers to use the devices to differentiate between friendly and enemy forces). In my opinion this is a huge move for an organization as large as the US Army with a tremendously diverse population dispersed all over the world. To go with all of those challenges, the Army hopes to add secure communications to the devices so soldiers can eventually communicate during a conflict.
I think this could be a great body of knowledge for us in the learning field to see just how mobile devices will be adapted in the field to perform work and also to see the kinds of changes soldiers go through when adapting to this new form of communication and interaction. It’s one thing to use a device to find information as part of my job. I can adopt the self-importance that I sometimes do when telling myself that my life is so fast paced and important (then I knock myself down a peg). But accessing information for a soldier could mean saving your own life or the life of another, or friendly fire or innocent casualties.
The Army has shown here that it trusts mobile devices despite all their security problems because the potential to bring speed and access of information at the time of need will outweigh the potential risks.
Soldiers are already using mobile devices in the field to do translation work and to access field manuals and other more high impact decision support and training applications, but the Army deploying devices across its’ population will insure that these devices and applications will have the most impact.