An app or application is “…a small, specialized program downloaded onto mobile devices,” according to Dictionary.com. The technology behind a mobile device—the primary platform for apps—changes faster than you can say IBM Simon Smart Phone.
So why has the military traditionally invested more in the device or platform versus the app technology itself?
Historical data highlights how mobile devices or platform technology changes rapidly and cannot keep up with ever-changing military needs. Not to mention the commercial product development lifecycle (the time it takes to produce smartphone technology and bring it to market) is just a matter of weeks. Whereas the government's product development lifecycle can take years and by then the technology or requirement may be obsolete.
Operating & Monitoring
Mapping & Positioning
Increased Efficiencies & Voice Command
How Operational Apps Increase Warfighter Readiness:
- Data Collection
- In-theater communication
- Increased Efficiencies
- Voice Command
- Operating and Monitoring
That’s not to say the government hasn’t taken a crack at developing its own apps. But the Department of Defense (DoD) aren’t app developers by trade. Although these apps effectively deliver on military requirements—something commercial developers fail to consider in product development—it didn’t take long to realize it was too robust and slow to be truly reliable for use in theater.
In the past five years, app usage has become widely accepted by the DoD and is only expected to grow in tandem with app technology capabilities. Compared to the civilian world, military apps are clearly more advanced, but there are striking conceptual similarities. For example, a self-detonating communication device that erases proprietary information from a remote location is similar to the self-deleting features of the popular social media app, Snapchat. Although a frivolous example, it’s the advancement of technology like this that has led to an increased use of both the military-specific tactical apps and commercial easy button apps by military personnel.
Military-specific apps can enhance operational readiness through increased efficiencies that save time and money.
An easy button app, or commercial app, is differentiated by its ability to save time. Often called a time machine, this type of app automates manual tasks, decreases human error, increases efficiency or saves resources. The apps advantages are apparent, but many don’t correlate taking less effort to complete the same task with tremendous military cost savings.
On the other hand, a military-specific or tactical app is created through a diagnostic approach of harnessing the power of data to determine ways to save time or money in an operational capacity. A good example of this diagnostic approach involves observing unit level exercises on how soldiers shoot, move or communicate to improve situational awareness or reduce costs. It’s hard to believe this can be achieved through a blue force tracking capability on a smart phone app but it can, and has!
Regardless of the type of app, it’s even more important to consider constraints for the end user, such as operational security, transmission rate, ease of use, human factors or even how noise or light may endanger the mission and safety of service men and women. Companies like Kopis Mobile, have developed a proprietary diagnostic approach that takes all these factors into consideration when developing military apps.
Unlike commercial app developers, Kopis Mobile specializes in designing and manufacturing custom apps and app-enabled equipment backed with a thorough understanding of the troop’s mission. Their warfighter-centric development approach has been the driving factor behind the creation of multiple custom apps for the DoD, law enforcement and private security markets since 2009. Fast Form family of apps, MMRIS, and NTtv are a few Kopis Mobile apps that have gained rapid popularity in recent years.
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