Kostin: Smaller agencies, better apps


Smaller agencies may be better equipped than their larger counterparts to make useful mobile apps for citizens, said Gwynne Kostin of the General Services Administration on Jan. 22.

Kostin, director of the Digital Services Innovation Center within GSA, spoke during an AFCEA-Bethesda panel in Rockville, Md.

"We do see in the agency space that the closer people are to delivering services, the more innovative they are, the more they really see the value of this," she said. "A lot of the interesting mobile apps...have been coming from smaller bureaus, because they have specific problems they're trying to solve."

That means a bottom-up approach is a key to app development, she said.

Another panelist, Avi Bender, the Census Bureau's chief technology officer, emphasized open data and application programming interfaces, or APIs.

"We have the ability internally to release a lot of cool apps, but it's really up to the American public to make use this data," Bender said.

"Our job going forward is very much releasing APIs and releasing the tools that you need to make use of the data," he added.

Apps should, though, increasingly be tied to data security efforts, said Margie Graves, Homeland Security Department deputy chief information officer.

"I believe that the applications themselves are where we're going to have to do a lot of security going forward, because the devices are going to change so rapidly that we may not be able to maintain the pace" with effective security, Graves said.

She also said agencies would have to be vigilant throughout the lifecycle of each app to make sure they're still secure, not to mention still useful.

For more:
- see the event webpage

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