How handheld devices are driving innovation at federal agencies

By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

The high-profile issues of mobility and cloud computing are interconnected and reflect a shifting technology landscape not only at federal agencies but on a much wider scale, said cybersecurity expert Maria Horton in an interview on Industry Chatter with Francis Rose

Horton spent 20 years in the Navy, rising through the ranks to become chief information officer of the National Naval Medical Center. She founded EmeSec, a cybersecurity firm, in 2003 and serves as its CEO.

Horton said the mobile revolution faced by government and contractors is one that is also taking place more broadly across society.


“Our infrastructure is changing in America today. And as we transition to mobility, whether it be in the cloud or in the handheld, we really are looking at things from a totally new perspective with our customers,” she said.

This includes not only new technology, but policy as well, she said.

“EmeSec is seeing a number of customers struggling with cloud computing and how to maximize that opportunity as well as looking at mobility,” she explained. “Cloud computing and mobility go hand in hand when we look at a lot of experiences of commercial customers … And we also see that that the focus is not just on saving money and transitioning but really looking at the true risks, going forward.”

The main driver of innovation in federal technology is the increasing commercialization of IT, she said. After all, government is made up of individuals who are often pushing for more innovative devices and uses, Horton added.

The use of the term ‘handheld’ is deliberate, Horton said — it allows for a broader interpretation.

“The term ‘handheld’ allows us to think about the fact that there are going to be multiple capabilities on the handheld,” she said. “Whether it is paying for the cup of coffee at the café house, whether it is tuning into the school for your children. You will see those capabilities occur. But you’re also going to see the size, shape, color — everything about that handheld change, in my belief.”