British troops are being allowed to access military applications on their own smartphones for the first time, reports the Financial Times, with the RAF also putting in an order for iPads to be used by pilots.
Under existing Ministry of Defence regulations forces personnel can only use devices managed by the MoD, but a bring your own device (BYOD) policy is now being slowly adopted to benefit from digital flexibility, reports the FT.
The writing was on the wall for such a move when the MoD launched a new ICT Strategy last year, focused on creating a "single information environment" dedicated to digital and the needs of the end-user.
At the time the MoD said: “Our core programmes have failed to keep pace with changing user demand to such an extent that some defence organisations are choosing instead to invest in alternative solutions that more readily meet their parochial needs. This may achieve the desired outcome locally but it can be detrimental and carries a consequential cost, to enterprise coherence and interoperability.”
The reported warming to BYOD will allow personnel to access records, briefings, guidance or policy through their own devices instead of only using MoD equipment, which may not be carried by or located near users.
The FT says personnel will be able use a secure web browser on their own devices to initially access human resources information connected to their own employment, and eventually they will be able to benefit from app-based services connected to training and languages, for instance. Security software firm Symantec has developed a secure web portal for smartphones to be used by the army.
In another development, the Royal Air Force has ordered 300 iPads for its pilots, with encryption and security management of the devices contracted to UK start up Nine23. The iPads will replace heavy manuals and documents which currently have to be carried around for every flight. Symantec is, at the same time, working on a secure smartphone portal for the RAF.