Bryan Sivak, Washington DC’s new CTO, in an interview recently about the outcomes of their Apps for Democracy contests (paraphrasing):
- Applications spun up by these contests tend to be more “cool” than useful to the average city resident.
- Designed for devices that aren’t necessarily used by the large populations that might need to interact with these services on a regular basis.
- Maintaining the new applications over the long term is a problem.
Is it necessary that every citizen use these apps to make them worth investing in? If we build a super cool iPhone/social 311 app that “only” 500 people use every day, isn’t that the same as getting 500 new analyst /sensors spread out across the city putting in requests for graffiti, potholes, crime, traffic. I’m not sure ubiquity of these apps is a good metric compared to ROI. (And the investment was very small).
If I read him correctly I think he’s doubting the ROI, at least for this particular batch of apps that came out of the first contests. Otherwise, why stop doing them (or at least make significant changes to the program)?
More by Mark Headd: A ‘Glass Half Full’ View of Government App Contests
Pragmatic, with citizens money not playing with perceptions. And only who is being engaged apps developer, whose only interest is to develop those apps and get it in front of their possible customer.