A New Role for Mobile Apps: Reach More People

Everyday 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data are created (IBM: What is Big Data?). The increasing development of mobile technologies makes this data creation even easier by allowing us to search, upload, Tweet, photograph, and produce content from almost anywhere in the world at any time. With all this new, exciting data constantly surrounding us, it’s easy to miss out on the important information government has available.

Information is one of government’s most valuable resources, and there’s a lot of it to go around. But with most of this information sitting in large data sets that are spread across a wide variety of websites, the challenge becomes ensuring that the right people are seeing the right information.

mobile people

According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, “By the end of 2013 there will be more mobile devices on Earth than people.” Clearly, the growth of mobile devices is not slowing down. For government, this new mobile market provides an opportunity to expand outreach through digital communications and allows citizens to engage with government in a way that’s convenient for them.

The use of mobile apps is one way your government organization can leverage the growth and dependence on mobile technology. Organizations can publish their most valuable information, acting as guides by providing online resources and websites. In fact, this is already being done by many government organizations. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau has embraced the new mobile market, developing its own mobile app: America’s Economy.

Upon completing the most recent census in 2010, the organization faced a significantly smaller advertising budget. At that juncture, Steve Jost, Associate Director for Communications for the U.S Census Bureau, and his team were left questioning, “What [are we] supposed to do the other 9 years?” Looking towards digital communications, the concept of a mobile app was developed.

America’s Economy provides real-time updates for 16 key economic indicators including unemployment rate, homeownership rates, and gross domestic product. The app tracks increases and decreases in the various indicators and creates ongoing trend reports. The app also provides detailed descriptions of what each indicator represents in addition to any news releases surrounding them. Clicking on these “features” automatically redirects the user to a Web page filled with the desired information and provides the user with an opportunity to explore other information.

America's Economy

During the 2012 GovDelivery Washington D.C. Webcast, Jost referred to the Census Bureau’s new mobile app as “part of a strategy” to “marry” the traditional universe with the digital universe. He said that “by creating an app, a direct linkage [is formed] from one’s mobile device to the data available on our website.” This direct linkage encourages more people to view website content that they may not have normally viewed.

The U.S. Census Bureau is just one of the many government organizations capitalizing on the new mobile market. Having a mobile app provides another means for your organization to better serve your customers. Whether it’s a mobile app or designing a mobile-friendly website for your customers, embracing the mobile shift and exploring the opportunities that accompany it are critical for continuing the success of government’s digital communications efforts.

To hear Steve Jost and other leading government innovators discuss their digital communications strategies check out this video from GovDelivery’s 2012 Washington D.C. Event.

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