There’s been a lot of news stories this year about iPhone and iPad use by U.S. federal agencies. Most of those stories have been reports of agencies ditching BlackBerries for iPhones and/or iPads.
This week’s news from the FAA is different in that the FAA already has iPads in the hands of employees and the agency is planning to expand their user dramatically – to the point where employees will be offered a choice between an iPad and a laptop as their mobile computing device.
According to AVWeb, an aviation news site, the FAA had already invested in iPads but didn’t allow extensive use of the devices by its employees. Those using iPads had access to agency email, but not to any other network resources. That is expected to change in the near future as the agency ramps up iPad use significantly. By 2014, the agency will offer workers the opportunity to ditch their laptops for iPads (the agency also plans to investigate Android tablets as an additional option).
The FAA noted that mechanics, lawyers, and other information consumers are a particularly good fit for the iPad. Specific uses that the FAA highlighted include:
- Parts requests
- Filing reports
- Access to shared resources
- Access to technical manuals
- Better access to legal files
- Replay of flight path deviations and other airspace violations – an app specifically deployed for attorneys in the agency
The FAA is also looking to expand the iPad use, particularly focusing on its uses in training scenarios. The agency also plans to create its own enterprise app store that will allow employees to browse and install commonly used apps – which will likely include internal FAA apps as well as publicly available selections.
While the FAA is leading a charge for iPad use in government, the agency is not pursuing a BYOD model. All iPads deployed will be owned and managed by the agency itself. Robert Corcoran, an IT official for the FAA, recently told Politico “We’re going to punt” on BYOD because the FAA finds the policy, legal, and HR issues to be “very complex.”
That decision highlights an important point according to many leaders in the consumerization of IT movement – that consumerization is a larger trend that doesn’t always include users bringing their personal devices into the workplace.