NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- The Sea Warrior (PMW 240) Mobility Team has come a long way since deploying its first app, eDIVO, in Spring 2015.
To date, the team has created a dynamic and successful program from scratch, produced 23 apps for iOS and Android devices, launched the Navy App Locker, cloud-hosted the Enterprise Mobile Content Management System (EMCMS), developed a mobility-focused contract framework that accelerates the acquisition-to-development process, and streamlined the Agile process to reduce app production time to just 2-4 months.
The result is 300,000+ app downloads, 8,000+ general military training course completions via apps and pleasant feedback from sponsors and app users. Today, the Navy App Locker offers 72 apps and receives nearly 2,500 site hits each month - numbers that continue to grow.
By any measure, the Mobility Program is enjoying significant success. The question now is, what next?
"Of course, our main task in 2018 is to continue to produce and update great apps that our Sailors use across the fleet," said Emily DiSalvo, assistant program manager for engineering (APM-E) for Mobility. "But we're also addressing a number of important business and engineering areas that affect our program and other programs within DoD (Department of Defense)."
Two important focus areas for 2018 are:
* Tailoring engineering processes and helping establish mobile standards, and
* Developing transactional capabilities and exploring mobile-focused Identity and Access Management (IdAM) methods.
Since Mobility products are relatively small in scale, it is overkill to employ the Navy's large system requirements to develop apps. Consequently, the team continues to adapt Systems Engineering Technical Readiness (SETR) events to meet the needs of Mobility - tailoring large requirements down into simpler, in-depth processes that enable quick and effective movement of apps to production.
"We are some of the only people in the Navy who are tailoring processes this way," DiSalvo said. "No Mobility standards exist yet for DoD; we are helping influence them. So the lessons we learn and share will help guide app development and policy throughout DoD in the future."
Developing transactional capabilities and exploring mobile-focused IdAM methods.
To date, Mobility has focused on providing apps that offer Sailors official Navy information and functionality, while requiring no PII in order to use. The team has not yet been able to personalize the apps because there's no current IdAM solution that safely provides non-CAC (Common Access Card) access from personal mobile devices to the Navy back-end systems of record.
"All Navy systems with personal info are CAC-based now," DiSalvo said. "And DoD can't provide every single Sailor with a CAC reader. So the question is how to allow people to use their personal devices to make secure transactions without compromising their identities and personal information."
The first app that will attempt to bridge this gap will be the MNP-MR (My Record) app, which will display a Sailor's Electronic Training Jacket (ETJ) in a native mobile app. The app is being built in conjunction with an IdAM pilot, and is expected to undergo phased testing later this year. PMW 240 is working with multiple entities within the Navy and outside to ensure the app adheres to cybersecurity, IdAM, and mobile standards.
The Road Ahead....
Since personal devices won't be able to use CAC, this year Mobility will be looking at a variety of multi-factor and other types of authorization technologies that can take CACs out of the equation.
"CAC-based authentication and mobile apps just don't fit together," said David Driegert, APM for Mobility. "We are making strong progress on providing industry-based, multi-factor authentication (MFA) with our mobile apps. Sailors are already familiar with this form of authentication from their personal financial or health-related apps."
Driegert believes 2018 will be remembered as the year Mobility started laying the foundational groundwork to build mobile-focused IdAM, content management, and cybersecurity capabilities that will enable mobile apps to provide personalized information from the Navy's back-end systems.
"It's an exciting time in Mobility," Driegert said. "We are pushing boundaries and laying a foundation that will allow us to provide our Sailors enhanced mobile capabilities. We have to continue to focus on the warfighters and ensure they have the tools and information they need to achieve their mission."
In the end, providing better mobile capabilities allows Sailors to be better prepared and untethered to CAC-based machines.
"We still have a lot of progress to make, especially on the policy front," Driegert said, "but the PMW 240 Mobility Team will ensure we achieve mission success."
PMW 240 manages a complex portfolio of information technology systems that provide full life-cycle management to support the Navy's manpower, personnel, training and education (MPTE) business operations initiatives.
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