NASCIO directory of mobile apps developed by states

NASCIO site puts states' mobile apps in one place

Many state governments are developing their own mobile apps for citizen services. And considering that all states provide essentially the same services, being able to share those apps would be handy.

But how to put them all in one place? The federal government has the Mobile Apps Gallery to help people find federally-developed apps, but how would someone find what they need in their own or another state?

States such as California have a fairly comprehensive list of apps, but not every state does. Those living close to a state border (which is actually most of us) might not be able to find out what is available in neighboring states.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has answered this call with its new State Mobile Apps Catalog, a clearinghouse for smart-phone and tablet apps developed for the 50 states throughout the country . Visitors can click on a map to find all of the apps for a particular state, or search the entire library for a particular type of app.

Currently, there are 160 apps in the Catalog, which is a small fraction of what is actually in existence, but more are being added all the time — the home page includes a link states can use to update or add apps. The site currently features apps from every state except Arizona, North Dakota and Oregon. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also have apps listed, though the District of Columbia and Guam do not.

The catalog covers a range of topics, including public safety, health and wellness, public assistance, employee assistance, state portal, traffic/road conditions and parks and recreation. You can, for example, check out California’s Locator app, Florida’s State Parks Outdoor Guide,  or West Virginia’s Suspicious Activity Reporting app.

"This tool offers a convenient way to see what other states are producing in terms of mobile apps, and allowing states to generate ideas for their own state or territory," said Brenda Decker, NASCIO president and Nebraska CIO. "Some states lead the way in mobile app development and can pose as models for those growing their mobile app capabilities."

Posted by Greg Crowe on May 16, 2013 at 9:39 AM0 comments

iOS 6 on ipad

iOS 6 for iPhones, iPads gets FIPS 140-2 certification

The newest version of Apple’s iOS, Version 6, has passed an important test for agency use, gaining FIPS 140-2 certification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

NIST recently added the Apple iOS CoreCrypto Kernel Module v3.0 to its Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) certification list.  When operating in FIPS mode, the CoreCrypto met Level 1 of FIPS 140-2, which means it meets government security requirements.

According to the NIST validation summary, the module was tested on an iPhone 4, an iPhone 4S and an iPad (single-user mode) all running iOS 6.0. There is no indication whether NIST tested or plans to test it on newer devices such as the iPhone 5.

As “bring you own device” policies get implemented in more government agencies, network administrators will likely look at this announcement as good news for their employees who want to use their Apple mobile devices.

iOS 6 has had its share of security issues. CVE Details lists over 230 vulnerabilities, many of which have been resolved. One vulnerability allowed hackers to use a locked iPhone to access contacts and make calls.

So the FIPS certification is important, as agencies move toward mobile computing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are moving to iPhones in a big way. And the Defense Department’s Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan calls for accommodating a range of mobile devices, including those running iOS.

Posted by Greg Crowe on May 09, 2013 at 9:39 AM0 comments

Mobile phone browsers will need to be 508 compliant

FCC puts browsers on the accessibility page

The Federal Communications Commission has long sought to improve accessibility to communications networks by people with disabilities by making it easier to find the right resources for the disability.  As new technologies emerged, the commission has issued updates to cover accessibility to those technologies. But until recently something had slipped through the cracks.

When Section 716 of the Communications Act was added, it was supposed to enforce access to advanced communications devices “such as computers, laptops and tablets used for e-mail, to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, unless doing so is not achievable.” But the Consumer Electronics Association and the Information Technology Industry Council argued that Section 716 does not cover Internet browsers, because they are not hardware; they are tools for “information location” and not communication. This is despite the pervasiveness of Web-based e-mail and social networks.

The FCC decided to put that to bed once and for all. Last week the commission released a Report and Order to implement Section 718 and part of Section 716 of the Communications Act. Section 718 “requires Internet browsers installed on mobile phones to be accessible to and usable by individuals who are blind or have a visual impairment, unless doing so is not achievable. This requirement applies when Internet browsers are used for any purpose.”

And to close that loophole, Section 716 “requires Internet browsers installed on equipment used for advanced communications services, such as computers, laptops, and tablets used for e-mail, to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, unless doing so is not achievable. This requirement applies when Internet browsers are used for advanced communications services.”

The rule is unlikely to cause much disruption, however, thanks to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendment, which requires agencies to buy and use accessible products. Browser-makers have worked on 508 compliance for years. Microsoft (Internet Explorer), Mozilla (Firefox) and Google (Chrome) all support Section 508 and have submitted Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates, stating compliance.

But mobile browsers are different from those on the desktop, and the FCC’s new rules could help ensure browser-makers keep accessibility in mind. The requirements apply to browsers installed on mobile phones and other equipment that are manufactured on or after Oct. 8, 2013.

Posted by Greg Crowe on May 08, 2013 at 9:39 AM0 comments