More than a decade ago, tech giant Apple started telling its smartphone customers that if something was worth it, “there’s an app for that.”
From now on, the same can be said of the fight against terrorism.
The US National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) launched its aCTknowledge mobile app on Monday, ready to download from the Apple App Store and from the NCTC website.
“The app is a one-stop shop for unclassified counterterrorism information,” an NCTC official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the center’s foray into mobile apps.
Officials said a version should also be available in the coming months on Google Play, and the information will also be available in a desktop version.
But although the app is public, access to the full suite of features is limited to counterterrorism professionals.
NCTC officials say the initial deployment is limited to US federal government and US military officials. National and local counterterrorism officials will also have access to it in the near future.
“This is a huge evolution of our information-sharing efforts,” an NCTC expert who helped develop the aCTknowledge app told reporters.
“We are moving from a weekly, regularized information-sharing effort (via email) to a daily, near real-time effort,” the expert said. “Our ability to send push notifications to partners using the app will really change the community, in general, because we will be able to immediately upgrade everyone’s understanding of a counter-terrorism event as it unfolds. occurs.”
Like other apps, NCTC’s aCTknowledge will allow users to receive notifications, search for information, and follow updates on specific terms or topics.
The NCTC says the nature of the new mobile app will also allow it to see what kind of information its various government partners are looking for and ensure that data or training is available.
Although the information shared on the app is not classified, officials take precautions to protect the systems from hackers and others who may try to misuse them.
“You must use your official government email address to register,” said a second NCTC expert, speaking like the other on condition of anonymity. “And then we have established vetting criteria to make sure candidates have a validated need to know.”
Officials say many of the app’s features were designed with help from state and local first responders, including police and firefighters from across the United States.
“With the release of aCTknowledge, the NCTC is fulfilling its mission to innovate the way we share intelligence products with our partners,” NCTC Director Christy Abizaid said in a statement late Monday. “The app gives its users the information they need to protect their communities from potential threats.”