From laser cannons to night vision goggles, the men and women of the military get access to some of the most technologically advanced hardware available anywhere. If access to all those toys wasn’t enough to make you a little jealous, now the US Army is considering outfitting every solider with their own smartphone.
The suggestion follows Army strategies of making sure soldiers have seamless access to the information they need to perform their duties. Wireless connectivity combined with the right selection of apps for the job give smartphones the potential to provide just that kind of pervasive access to data.
Rather than invest in designing its own smartphone, right now the Army is leaning towards using off-the-shelf models, possibly giving them some minor upgrades to better handle wear-and-tear in the field. Soldiers might even be given the leeway to pick out their own favorite model and pay for upkeep with an Army stipend, so long as the device would be capable to accessing the force’s data. Although, while the Army Capabilities Integration Center named Android and iPhone devices as some it would like to see adopted, we’re a bit concerned by the revelation that it’s “open to using Palm Trios (sic)”.
The first step in getting smartphones out to soldiers is making sure they can securely handle sensitive data. While we’ve seen a few smartphone security issues, by-and-large they should be easier to lock down than something PC-based. Key to maintaining security will be the introduction of smartphone readers for the government’s Common Access Card, a smartcard that can authenticate the user for access to restricted data. Both Android and the iPhone will get CAC readers in 2011.
Of course, a battlefield of smartphone-equipped soldiers is only going to be as useful as the network supporting the handsets, but we’ll leave it to the Army to work out the logistics of that one.
Source: USA Today