Smartphones have been around since the late 1990s. What started as a novelty item for those who needed to conduct business on the go has changed into a device that most of us cannot live without. This mobile trend has morphed into Kindles, tablets, and other portable devices. As a result, the need for instant gratification—when it comes to accessing information—has become the norm.
Nearly 968 million smartphones were sold to end users worldwide from 2007 to 2013, sources say. Consumers can use these devices to carry out a broad range of activities that previously required a desktop or laptop computer—including shopping, banking, and accessing government services. As a result, the Obama administration is striving to provide government services “anytime, anywhere, and on any device.”
According to the Government Accountability Office’s new report, there are many challenges preventing agencies from reaching this goal. Highlights from the report were outlined by Nextgov’s recent article. They are as follows:
While mobile traffic to federal websites still pales in comparison to traditional desktop visits, the number of mobile visitors is growing rapidly. The number of people using mobile devices to access Interior Department services increased from about 57,000 in 2011 to more than 1.2 million in 2013. Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency received 3.1 million mobile visits in 2013 — the most of any agency site.
Still, challenges persist. Looming large is the fact that not all, or even most, federal websites are designed [for] pocketsize screens, touch-screen keyboards and scaled-down browsing capabilities.
Too many of Uncle Sam’s websites are cluttered with extraneous information and require users to click through multiple screens to access information, GAO noted.
“Government websites in particular are not always streamlined with the end user in mind … Government websites may include unnecessary content, making it difficult for mobile users to find the information they are looking for,” the report stated.
All 24 agencies required to comply with the Obama administration’s digital strategy — all executive branch agencies and most of the large independent ones — have identified the services they plan to revamp for mobile devices, GAO noted. Meanwhile, 21 of them have already revamped at least two services as required by the strategy.
For example, the Interior Department optimized its main Web portal using responsive design, building a website so it operates the same on desktops and mobile platforms alike.
For more information regarding the GAO study, see the full Nextgov article.
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