Meet QinetiQ NA’s new mobility guy-Kevin Curtis. Curtis is a veteran in the mobility space and joined QineitQ NA over three months ago to run its Corporate Strategic Resource Division, in a matter a months he took over QinetiQ NA’s mobility division.
Curtis sat down with WashingtonExec to explore what it is about mobility that has the federal government ready to convert and how issues of cybersecurity have affected device implementation.
We also asked Curtis where he sees mobility on the broad scale of technological innovation and who he most admires in the technology industry.
WashingtonExec: Can you please tell us a little about your background and your involvement with mobility at QinetiQ?
Kevin R. Curtis: After years of working for firms such as Arthur D. Little, Booz Allen Hamilton, NEC, Marconi and client such as BAE Systems, I joined QinetiQ North America in September of 2011 as a Corporate Strategic Capture Resource available for large deals essentially across the company. About a month into my tenure John, Sutton, our Corporate SVP of Business Development, asked me to take on QinetiQ’s mobility campaign. Within a couple of months, I had identified our mobility core competencies and past performance, put together essentially a mobility service portfolio; a framework for defense and civilian segment mobility applications that we would bring to market and had built an ecosystem of about 20 mobility partners – technology vendors that would provide us with the enabling foundation blocks to be able to bring these mobility oriented type of services to the federal market.
“So, Mobility is definitively something that is going to stay around – not because we like it but because our customers require it.”
WashingtonExec: You say that QinetiQ has embraced mobility? Do you envision it playing a major part in the next couple of years?
Kevin R. Curtis: Thus far we have identified 4 or 5 campaign areas: cyber security and operations, cloud computing, simulation, ISR and mobility. These areas were largely selected by conducting demand site analysis. In other words this is not our view of the world; it’s really driven by requirements of our clients. So, Mobility is definitively something that is going to stay around – not because we like it but because our customers require it; just as will cloud computing, cyber security and operations and constant situational awareness via ISR, both in defense and national/homeland security applications.
WashingtonExec: How have you been tackling the problem of cyber security when implementing new mobile devices; either in the federal space or in your own company?
Kevin R. Curtis: We have the background to take a variation of internal technological and secure communication capabilities and bring it into the Federal mobility market segment. Let me give you a case in point. We have a system in Afghanistan and Iraq where a coalition soldier can identify the hiding location of an enemy sharp shooter attempting to target a coalition convoy. This occurs by listening to a device in the coalition soldier’s ear that is scanning the field, collecting sound and coordinate data and bringing that data to a mobile device which then isolates the exact location of the sharp shooter. This location data is also communicated to UAVs and other field elements. We have taken those kinds of core mobile-enabled mission-critical applications and laid the foundation for us to create other variations of mission-critical mobile Apps needed in the Federal market segment.
A Civilian market case-in-point is that for the USDA, we have created an application on a Windows mobile device where the USDA inspectors on the field can download a form that is required for inspecting livestock. They can fill that form by populating all of these fields that have been pre-designed and press “send” on their mobile device. That information is right away going to back-end USDA systems and the process of certifying that particular inspection activity can begin to take place. So let’s take a look at what we have done here by mobile enabling this application to better align people, processes and technologies. First, we have made the process of inspection in to a real-time activity. Secondly, we have reduced error by not having the inspector take all of the information down on a piece of paper and then get back to a hotel or a local filed office to get connectivity, bring up a web interface and then use an error-prone manual process to input that data in to a backend USDA data warehouse. And, from a technology perspective, this was all done in a Windows Mobile environment which made it conducive to the client’s operating environment and EA. On another front, we know that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) wants to increase the productivity of soldiers by bring information to the edge to create greater situational awareness (SA). However, the DoD does not want to compromise the security of the global information grid; its authoritative data sources and other sensitive matters that could be compromised via use of mobile devices. To that end, they have a dilemma between security and dissemination of information and have sought solutions. We have worked with DISA, Dell and Good Technologies to address this mobile device security issue for the DoD Community. So, in short, when it comes to mobile enabling mission critical Federal enterprises, we’ve been there and done it in secure mission critical environments and intend to stay in this space.
“Nobody would have imagined the ability to have an inventory, a map and a view of almost every bit of digital content in the world the way Google has in real time and be able to serve that information to you in a nanosecond, all done by one company and its robust global cloud.”
WashingtonExec: Who is someone you admire in the technology industry? Many executives that I have previously interviewed have said Steve Jobs.
Kevin R. Curtis: I think they are right on Steve Jobs. But I would be remiss not to tell you that I’m a big fan of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google and obviously Eric Schmidt who was the CEO and now the Chairman. Let me tell you why. Nobody would have imagined the ability to have an inventory, a map and a view of almost every bit of digital content in the world the way Google has in real time and be able to serve that information to you in a nanosecond, all done by one company and its robust global cloud. As a matter of fact, the Google cloud is now certified to be sold off of a GSA schedule because it has a FISMA moderate certification. And, as you know, in the federal government people are always Googling things as a part of their information and intelligence gathering. So Google is now indispensible information and knowledge gathering mechanism as well as a robust, proven cloud computing resource for a broad base of end-users.
Google is further moving to revolutionize the future role of cloud and mobility by leveraging their revenues to create well-integrated suite of cloud driven mobility Apps while venturing in to so many other leading edge areas. They truly have a tremendous potential to form the foundation of tomorrow’s information rich, context sensitive and mobile world. It won’t be long before your mobile device is your Google wallet, the controller for your Google TV, instrument of your social and professional communication via Google+ and the controller for your Google driverless car system. As you know, Google now also owns Motorola Mobility and the innovative Android based mobility devices that Motorola bring to bear. So, there is indeed a revolution that Google is setting in place that is worthy of attention and hence recognition.
WashingtonExec: How do you think mobility scales up between breakthroughs like the internet and cloud computing or personal computers?
Kevin R. Curtis: I think mobility is going to be bigger than all of them. If you look at desktop computing – within a decade, the prevalence of laptops has almost supplanted desktops. I think if you look at what’s happening in the mobile landscape, mobile devices are already beginning to broadly augment if not supplant laptops. Right next to my home phone on which we are speaking, is my Android based Motorola Atrix mobile phone. It has two microprocessors with about the same computing capability as the laptops I have sitting next to it. Furthermore, my Motorola Atrix has VoIP, a mobile hot-spot, cloud storage, Video-Conferencing, a Webtop screen and key board that make the phone into a Netbook while extending its battery life to 10-hours as well as an integrated biometric reader. So, on my Android Atrix, I can make a circuit switched or a packet voice call, provide a secure broadband wireless hot-spot access to my laptop while I am on the go, write emails, devise a presentation, access corporate email and conduct face-to-face video meetings even with Apple’s Facetime video-call system. And, with the integrated biometric reader, the only way you can access information on my phone is if you have my fingerprint. I really think that in short order, biometrics such as fingerprints, eye retina scans and voice recognition are going to probably replace user-passwords which is one of the biggest thing you can actually do to improve access security. Looking on the horizon I’ve got no doubt that mobile computing is going to probably be the biggest game changer in the world and certainly in the federal market. We will all be able to be more effective by having greater situational awareness both at the edge where people need to do their job and at command and control where the decision makers need real-time information in support of their decision making process. So when it comes to the future of mobility, just hold on to your seats!