Apps contest gets it done better, faster, cheaper

Monday - 8/9/2010, 9:40am EDT

Andrew Jenkins, Geographer / Subject Matter Expert in U.S. Army Geospatial Engineering

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Andrew Jenkins hopes to improve how the Army responds to disasters. He's part of a team that's come up with a smart phone app for Google Earth and Google Maps. It's designed to help the Army in humanitarian and civilian affairs operations.

The Army chose his program as a top winner in the first Apps for the Army innovation challenge.

Jenkins told Federal News Radio he, and his team, had a good idea of what they wanted to be able to do. The hard part was figuring out how to do it using an Android smartphone. "It took us a while," said Jenkins. "There was kind of a learning curve with getting used to Android, but...after a little bit of time messing around with it, picked it up fairly quick and just understand the basic functions."

Once that was accomplished, said Jenkins, it took them "about two days" to develop the front end.

Jenkins said he and coworker Alex Ly "worked together about two months on this" with ten other people, all on their own time.

It wasn't expensive, but "it just cost me my time but the learning curve to it did take a while. A lot of this was done on our personal time." Jenkins said management was excited and supportive, but they all still had their regular jobs.

While the program could have been farmed out to a giant systems integrator, Jenkins said it "probably would have taken a long time."

"Lt. Gen. (Jeff) Sorenson, (the Army Chief Information Officer/G-6) spoke about this last week at the LandWarNet Conference and how this rapid application development could change the way we do business. Personally, I'm excited, having been a soldier, that we have a potential capability that we can push to the field a lot faster. I can remember waiting sometimes a year to get software updates."

To learn more about the Apps for Army contest with CIO Sorenson, click here.

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.