U.S. Census Bureau replacing 1200 BlackBerry’s with iPhones

The U.S. Census Bureau plans to purchase 1,200 iPhones for field workers to fill out surveys of American citizens, contracting documents show.

The iPhone pilot is the first step toward a bring-your-own-device plan that will result in census workers using their own smartphones for surveys with the government supplying only the software.

The Census Bureau currently furnishes field surveyors with 1,200 BlackBerrys, which it intends to phase out over the next six months, according to the solicitation posted on Dec. 17.

The iPhone program will be a testing ground for the bureau to see if it can manage surveys on a variety of smartphone platforms, the notice said. Census chose the iPhone because it’s the leader in the mobile computing market, accounting for about 38 percent of U.S. smartphones, the bureau said.

If the iPhone pilot proves successful, Census plans to build survey apps for other mobile platforms by 2015, eventually allowing surveyors to access the app from whatever device they own.

The survey apps will be secured using the Commerce Department’s mobile device management system, Census said.

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