TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads
Transportation Security Administration budgets $3 million for iPhones, iPads, and other Apple gear for IT security testing, mobile app development, and other uses.
According to a public solicitation posted last week, TSA plans to use the products for a variety of purposes, from printing marketing material and producing video to IT security testing and developing mobile applications for public consumption.
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TSA primarily uses Windows-based computers and RIM BlackBerry devices to fill most of those needs, according to the agency's request for information. The Apple products will help to fill a "capability gap," according to the document. TSA has issued a separate RFI for the acquisition of Google Android-based devices.
The agency tested several dozen Apple iOS devices last year. It's now looking to expand that to several hundred devices and had identified 15 use cases. Among the potential users are bomb appraisers and behavior detection officers. TSA says it's following "the public-driven demand for more mobility."
The agency wants to be able to use free and inexpensive off-the-shelf mobile applications, including those available through Apple's AppStore. It identified Google Translate and airline and weather apps as among those that could potentially help the agency meet the government's objective of using new technologies to operate more efficiently.
[ Learn more about the feds' mobility push. Read 3 Goals Of White House 'Digital Government' Plan. ]
TSA said it needs Apple hardware and software to enable it to update its MyTSA iPhone application, which has been downloaded more than 250,000 times. With an eye on developing new iOS applications, the agency is looking to acquire Apple's Xcode development environment and the developer licenses necessary for posting to the AppStore.
TSA's RFI illustrates growing demand for mobile devices in general--and Apple products in particular--across federal government.
In March, the Air Force Mobility Command awarded a $9.36 million contract for up to 18,000 iPad 2s, and in April the Federal Aviation Administration said it would expand a pilot iPad program to more employees. Other federal agencies supporting iPads and other Apple gear include the Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Army.
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