Co-Authored by Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Melissa Smislova and Chief Information Officer & Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Under Secretary for Management Eric Hysen
DHS recently launched a new mobile application—DHS Intel—designed to deliver and share timely intelligence information with law enforcement and first responders across the country. Today, many of us consume information from news feeds, blogs, social media, podcasts and a variety of other sources on our mobile phones; however, until last month, most intelligence information was either sent via e-mail distro lists or viewed on sites optimized for desktops and laptops. Now, this information is available on-the-go for state, local, territorial, tribal (SLTT), campus, and federal partners who rely on intelligence to keep the country safe.
The app represents the latest enhancement to the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN)—DHS’ trusted and secure platform created in 2006 for sharing information and enabling real-time collaboration between SLTT partners. HSIN successfully provides key technologies and tools to protect the United States from adversarial threats, facilitate coordinated responses to natural disasters, and help law enforcement secure the nation's borders.
Rapid changes in technology and the need for convenience while working from home during the COVID pandemic prompted HSIN users to ask for new tools to access information easily, quickly, and securely from any device. In many instances, law enforcement officers, first responders, and federal personnel are in operational environments and need easy, secure access to intelligence reports, updates, and relevant breaking information. Our goal of transforming HSIN to a user-friendly application to meet these customers' needs provided us the perfect opportunity to move fast and create DHS Intel.
The "Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government" (EO-14058), sets the parameter for how government services and products should serve the people using government services and how thoughtful, iterative development, based on human-centered design, is the pathway to creating a great customer experience. That is what we set out to do and within seven months of work, delivered in two-week cycles, and extensively tested and improved with each cycle based on user feedback we were successful.
One participant, New Jersey Police Captain Christopher Kay stated, “you guys solved the problem we have been wrestling with for a long time, that is...how people consume information in 2022.”
The enthusiastic feedback from Captain Kay and other end users validates that DHS Intel is moving in the right direction, but software development is never done. This app will continue to evolve with significant feature updates in the coming months and is available in the Apple App Store currently and will be available in the Android App Store this summer. Software must be responsive to user's needs and change as new technologies become available. While the launch of DHS Intel is an accomplishment, much work remains and should, theoretically, never end.