USDA Rolls Out Thousands Of iPads, Says Other Tablets Don’t Measure Up

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iPads help USDA service survey farmers and collect agriculture data across the country.
iPads help USDA service survey farmers and collect agriculture data across the country.

The USDA is working its way through an ambitious iPad deployment that may come to serve as a model for a range of government agencies within the U.S. and around the world. The challenge was to develop a simple, intuitive, and effective field survey and data collection system.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is a division of the USDA that is charged with surveying and reporting agricultural data across the country. NASS operates in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico. With a staff of around 3,000 enumerators NASS conducts thousands of survey each year about agriculture across the country. The service has been operating since the mid-1800s and, until the iPad, it conducted surveys and collected data in pretty much the same way that it had back in the 19th century – with paper forms filled out by hand and mailed to various field offices. Although various technology initiatives have been tried by NASS since the 1980s, none was a successful fit before the iPad.

Secretary Of The Navy Wants iPads For Executive Dining At The Pentagon

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The Navy wants iPads in the Pentagon for executive dining room.
The Navy wants iPads in the Pentagon for its Executive dining room.

We’ve seen the iPad used in a range of workplaces. Although some are surprising, like industrial farming and the Vatican, most are a bit more pedestrian. The U.S. Navy is planning to use iPads in a way that is both pedestrian and very high-end.

According to a recent government contract that is up for bid, the Navy plans to include iPads in a revamp of its Executive Dining Facility in the Pentagon. The dining room is often used by the Secretary of the Navy and regularly plays host to high-level Pentagon guests.

Can iPhones Replace BlackBerries In Top Secret Government Agencies?

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If RIM does go belly up, can Apple be ready to meet the security needs of RIM's customers?
If RIM does go belly up, can Apple be ready to meet the security needs of RIM's customers?

It’s getting almost painful to read reports about RIM. The ongoing hype about how great BlackBerry 10 will be mixed with the reports of layoffs, inventory sitting around warehouses, the company’s share price plummeting – it all reminds me of the time one of my high school friends broke her ankle in gym class and hobbled around for nearly half a day trying to convince herself that she’d only sprained it.

Among all that news, however, is a question – can organizations that need incredible security manage in a world without RIM and the manageability made possible by its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES)? Is iOS up to that challenge? Is Apple up to or interested in making a major play for the enterprise market?

How TSA Plans To Spend $3 Million On Macs And Other Apple Gear

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TSA plans massive pilot project using $3 million worth of Apple products
TSA plans massive pilot project using $3 million worth of Apple products

TSA is the latest U.S. federal agency to make a significant investment in Apple technologies in what may be a move away from RIM’s BlackBerry and Windows PCs. The agency is set to start a pilot program that will run over the next three years and will involve heavy investment in Macs, iPhones, iPads, and even Apple TVs.

According to federal documents (PDF link), the security agency plans to spend $3 million on Apple products and has an amazingly wide range of uses for them in mind. The plans go well beyond the scope of Apple investments made by other U.S. government agencies like the EPA and FAA, which focus primarily on iPhones and/or iPads.

Good Offers Secure iOS Data Management Platform With Developer Partners [Mobile Management Month]

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Good offers a complete platform for information security
Good offers a complete platform for information security

May is Mobile Management Month at Cult of Mac, where we will be profiling a different mobile management company every weekday. You can find all previous entries here  and read our Mobile Management manifesto here.

Although Good does provide device and app management, its primary focus is securing business data. To that end, the company effectively segregates all business information and documents on a device from a user’s personal content. To accomplish this Good’s iOS app delivers the same features as Apple’s Mail, Calendar, and Contacts apps – a move that ensures business messages event data are always secure. Good also includes a secure web browser and secure on-device document and data storage. The secure data store is sandboxed and can restrict users from copying data to unapproved apps as well as prevent such apps from accessing business documents or files.Good also provides a government agency solution that has been certified to meet various government and military standards for secure access including two-factor authentication.

Good leverages these technologies through a new solution called Good Dynamics that allows other companies, including mobile management vendor Boxtone who we profiled earlier in this series, to take advantage of Good’s secure data store. See our Good Dynamics coverage for more details.

Thursby Updates Tool For Macs Used By Top Secret Organizations

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Thursby updates Mac tool for high security environments
Thursby updates Mac tool for high security environments

Thursby last week released ADmitMac PKI 4. The release is a specialized version of the company’s ADMit Mac software that focuses two factor authentication. The solution is largely aimed at government customers and regulated industries like healthcare where data security is paramount.

Thursby’s ADMitMac is an Active Directory integration solution that offers several features beyond the built-in Active Directory support that Apple provides in OS X. It offers Mac management capabilities, improved browsing of Windows network resources including Microsoft’s distribute file system, and a number of other administrative tools.

FAA To Dramatically Expand iPad Use While Punting on BYOD

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The FAA to expand iPad use, create internal app store
The FAA to expand iPad use, create internal app store

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.

RIM Clings To Delusional Thinking As Federal Agencies Move To iOS

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Is RIM's relationship with the U.S. government really as strong as the company says? Probably not.
Is RIM's relationship with the U.S. government really as strong as the company says? Probably not.

 

2012 hasn’t been shaping up to be a good year for RIM. The company has already lost some major enterprise customers, developers have publicly announced they’re shuttering BlackBerry support, and the new iPad sales beat the total number of BlackBerry PlayBook shipments three times over in one weekend.

The one bright moment, if you can call it that, came during the company’s recent quarterly financials call when RIM’s newly minted CEO Thorsten Heins told investors that his first action on the job was to seriously evaluate RIM’s business. After months of delusional pep talks, his very sober assessment was like a burst of lucid thinking. Unfortunately, the company’s executives seem to be covering that lucid moment with more of the delusional spin that’s become typical of RIM

The latest bout of RIM denying its situation involve comments by executives on the state of the BlackBerry in government.

U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs Cancels Long Term Contract With Microsoft

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The VA cancels Microsoft contract, which could mean widespread use of iPhone to follow
The VA cancels Microsoft contract, which could mean widespread use of iOS to follow

While many federal agencies have been defecting from RIM’s BlackBerry to iOS devices, the Department of Veterans Affairs seems poised to make a much more dramatic transition. The agency recently canceled its participation in Microsoft’s Software Assurance program. While the move isn’t likely to mean the VA is replacing all of its PCs with Macs, it may signal a significant transition to non-Microsoft mobile devices like the iPad.

UK Parliament Wants To Buy An iPad For Every MP

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Britain's government could soon be run on iPads. Photo by hozinja (CC BY 2.0)
Britain's government could soon be run on iPads. Photo by hozinja (CC BY 2.0)

Over in rainy Britain, members of parliament (MPs) might have something to smile about. The Commons Administration Committee has recommended that they all be given iPads and cellular data plans. This would cost a relatively small amount, around £260,000 ($415,000) plus data plans.