The explosion in mobile technology is the 21st century version of the Renaissance. Widespread adoption of smart phones, lightning-fast networks and other factors have led to the creation of cutting-edge mobile apps that help you do everything from banking to booking travel.
In just two years, it’s expected that more Americans will use the Internet on their mobile devices than their desktop computers. That’s a staggering figure, especially when you consider that the iPhone has been around only since 2007.
The White House took notice last year, unveiling a Digital Government Strategy that, among other goals, aims to help Americans access government services and information through more accessibility across all devices. A noble target — but is it achievable?
Where we are
An AOL Government study found that nearly two-thirds of federal managers involved in mobile technology said their agencies have developed either a mobile website or a smart phone application.
Indeed, federal agencies have created some great mobile apps that can warn you about disasters, track your tax refund status, learn about diseases and outbreaks and get real-time vehicle safety information. Many agencies, including the National Cancer Institute, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency, have built streamlined, mobile-friendly sites that enable users to quickly find content.
Agencies are also leveraging older technologies and tactics to reach their target audiences who are on the go. For instance, new mothers and pregnant women can receive text alerts and reminders on when to schedule doctor visits through the Text4Baby program, which is co-sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services.
While this is tremendous progress, more needs to be done to ensure remaining agencies go mobile.
How we get there
Agencies have several options when it comes to determining what type of products they want to provide to mobile users. Do you choose a simple content-focused mobile website or native applications with tremendous functionality? Whichever mobile product (or combination of products) is chosen, it should align with strategic goals with intense focus on which services the agency provides to citizens. Budget constraints and security issues, especially ones dealing with personally identifiable information, are also important factors to consider.
There are several resources that can help agencies make the mobile transition:
- The General Service Administration’s Mobile Gov Wiki is a portal of mobile best practices throughout the federal government and includes discussions on responsive design, APIs, 508 compliance and other topics.
- GSA’s Mobile Apps Gallery showcases cutting-edge mobile apps and sites from various agencies.
- GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies’ Mobile Gov Blog has up-to-date information on what federal agencies are doing on all-things-mobile.
- The American Council for Technology—Industry Advisory Council’s Quadrennial Government Technology Review contains recommendations on how to improve service delivery through mobile products and other digital tools.As more agencies change their digital strategy to “mobile first,” government will empower citizens by delivering information and services at their fingertips.
As more agencies change their digital strategy to “mobile first,” government will empower citizens by delivering information and services at their fingertips.