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6/7/2010
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Army Testing iPhone, Droid Apps

Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications pilot is studying the benefits of giving soldiers access to smartphones and mobile apps.

The U.S. Army is testing a variety of smartphones -- including iPhones and Droids -- as part of a pilot program aimed at testing the usefulness of giving soldiers, both in the field and in administrative positions, access to mobile applications.

The Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications program also uses Touch Pros and Palm Treos to give soldiers access to information, like interactive maps, and training and intelligence applications to help them better perform their duties.

The goals of the program are to define best practices for equipping soldiers with new and emerging technologies as well as to develop new approaches to helping educate soldiers through the use of technology, according to a document outlining CSDA provided by the Army.

The Army also hopes to save money by developing ways to update and disseminate information relevant to soldier duties through the use of mobile devices and applications.

Potentially useful applications the Army is eyeing for CSDA fall into three categories -- training, administrative, and operational or tactical.

Interactive media instruction, cultural training, and distance learning are three potential applications in the training category, while appointment scheduling, finance, and career management are administrative apps the Army is considering.

Operational or tactical applications the Army may develop as part of the program include GPS location, two-way translation of speech and text, and biometric data and evidence.

The pilots are being conducted within several Army units, including the Army’s Evaluation Task Force, 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division at Ft. Bliss, Texas. Soldiers there were given 200 phones to test field applications that could, among other things, help them identify friend or foe in the field.

Other pilots were conducted at Army Initial Military Training courses to study the benefit of giving soldiers a way to use mobile apps to study training materials when not in classes, according to the Army.

The Army also is using the program to educate soldiers on mobile-app development itself. A pilot it conducted within the FA53 Officer Information Systems Managers course at Ft. Gordon, Ga., is providing university courses on application development to soldiers so they can develop in-house applications the agency finds useful.

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