Questions for Local Govts About Mobile Apps

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Allison Primack 8 years, 1 month ago.

  • Author
  • #160027

    Jennifer K. Smith

    Just gathering some research regarding mobile apps that local governments might have. Some specific questions:

    • Does your local government have mobile apps? If yes, what are they/what do they do?
    • Who built/created the app(s) and what was the cost? (vendor name and/or in house)
    • If you have a service-type app that allows people to report issues/items, does it tie in with other internal systems/applications (311, work order systems, CRM etc.) And who handles what comes in through the apps?

    Many thanks – I’m gathering this input to share with our tech services department. Please feel to forward to the appropriate person in your agency.

    Jennifer K. Smith

    Arlington County Government

    Office of Communications

    [email protected]

  • #160047

    Allison Primack

    Hey Jennifer! If you haven’t seen it already, GovLoop recently published a case study on Honolulu, and how they have been integrating this kind of technology in their local gov if you want to check it out –

    Good luck with your research!

  • #160045

    Kevin Curry

    Hi Jennifer, you should come to this event next Thursday:

    The purpose of the meeting is to connect Arlington County and other local govs & community organizations in Northern Virginia with the experts in this area.

    To answer your questions, you could ask See Click Fix, City Sourced, and others who their gov users are, then reach out to those gov contacts. I learned today that Richmond, VA is the #2 user of SCF. This is perhaps something we should track in Civic Commons:

  • #160043

    Steve Ressler

    Companies that do local gov apps:

    -311 – Citysourced,SeeClickFix,

    -Youtown – city meeting notes, news, calendar, etc

    Couple Govloop posts on topic

    Apps vs mobile web –

  • #160041


    Hi Jennifer –

    A couple of thoughts:

    1). MobileGov Training

    We’re actually on a panel in conference in June that’s focused specifically on helping public affairs/constituent outreach professionals. Program includes several state & local case studies as well as a bunch of federal ones. You can learn more at –

    2). Government Technology

    PR is part of my job so I love all of the titles. However, for state & local mobile adoption stories, you might want to scan Government Technology as their coverage is fairly extensive – Apologies in advance if that was too obvious.

    There was a good discussion on this panel earlier about creating highly-targeted apps v. apps suites (e.g., ArlingtonBike v. MyArlington) that you might want to look at. Our experience has been to generally start with the targeted approach to deliver value quickly and fully meet user expectations and expand (logically) from there as appropriate.

    In response to your specific query, a couple of points:

    • Most high-value applications will integrate with existing systems – it’s either a push model (making data available in the field) or pull model (integrating remote users into an extended process).
    • To be honest, biggest challenge and cost is often in creating the ‘mobile integration infrastructure’ to support mobile applications. Not a huge challenge with Web services, but worth noting.
    • Depending on your mandate, what this points to is the value of a holistic approach. The first application will probably require a decent investment, but if planned correctly, the cost for subsequent application can be significantly lower – over simplification, but you are essentially writing new interfaces for new platforms (iOS, Android, RIM, WinMobile) or applications (ArlingtonBike, ArlingtonTransit, ArlingtonGarbage). I added the caveat in case your sole focus is on creating a single app from the program side as I’m not sure if I’d personally take on this challenge (better addressed by someone that’s going to own the mobile architecture).

    Ping me if you need more insight.

  • #160039

    Scott Thomsen

    Here at Seattle City Light — a municipally owned electric utility that is a department of city government — we created a mobile app/web presence in-house. You can check it out at . It allows you to pay your bill, report a streetlight outage, view our outage map, get contact information or energy saving tips, read our Power Lines Blog and link up with our Facebook page.

    Cost involved buying some Mac equipment for the iPhone version and staff time.

    Some functions, such as bill pay, tie in with existing systems. The streetlight outage report generates an email to that work group.

    We’re looking at online and mobile power outage reporting that would tie in with our outage management system, but that will require a lot more sophistication to protect against denial of service attacks by hackers.

  • #160037

    Michelle K.

    Hi Jennifer –

    I’m a civic developer who currently works voluntarily with the City/County of San Francisco on a mobile app for SNAP beneficiaries. ( It is a mobile app in the “non-smartphone” sense in that it has (in addition to it’s web accessible component) an SMS interface so that folks aren’t required to have a smartphone in order to use the system. The app works nationwide though off of national USDA data, so ANY city can use it right now.

    A team of volunteer developers including two Code for America fellows (myself included there) developed the app free of charge as part of a civic codeathon, and we maintain it free of charge also in partnership with some great folks in the Human Services Agency in San Francisco.

    As Kevin mentioned, we’re bringing the civic developer community of Code for America locally now with the new NoVA Code for America Brigade, a meetup group for local developers to work with city partners to tap into the “cognitive surplus” of enthusiastic volunteer techies (and techies in training! no better place to learn coding than with friendly civic-minded people!). Here’s the link again to our next meeting, which will be May 10, 2012:

  • #160035

    Steve Cottle

    Hi Jennifer, You can also check the Smartphone Apps for Government group – there’s been a lot of good information and questions/answers posted there that could help you:

  • #160033


    Hi Jennifer – we have a lot of info documenting what mobile apps for local gov and where they’re being used:

    It’s not an exhaustive list but it’s a good place to start!

  • #160031

    Elizabeth Hoffman

    Hi Jennifer,

    I have some answers to the questions you asked below. It sounds like PublicStuff, a CRM service request system that uses both web and mobile platforms, has exactly what you’re looking for.

    • Does your local government have mobile apps? If yes, what are they/what do they do?
      • There are a lot of municipalities out there that are successfully using mobile apps. Some great examples are Elk Grove, California; Plano, Texas and the City of Sparks, Nevada. They are all using a mobile app that allows residents to submit service requests directly from the phone and have those requests sent to the city to be fixed in real time. The cities are then able to respond to the request, provide status updates and much more. The apps have increase community engagement in many cities and helped to streamline the work flow process for city staff while enhancing the level of satisfaction for residents. Elk Grove and Sparks were both featured in Mashable for their mobile use and the City of Plano, Texas was featured in GovTech for its innovative mobile app use.
    • Who built/created the app(s) and what was the cost? (vendor name and/or in house)
      • PublicStuff created and built the app and allowed for each city to customize and brand it specific to their needs. They are headquartered in New York City and work in over 150 cities across the country, including the City of Philadelphia. Pricing varies depending on your level of customization, but it’s extremely affordable and requests submitted through the app end up being pennies per transaction instead of dollars per transaction by walk ins, etc.
    • If you have a service-type app that allows people to report issues/items, does it tie in with other internal systems/applications (311, work order systems, CRM etc.) And who handles what comes in through the apps?
      • I know that the PublicStuff system does tie in with other work order systems including Lucity, Cityworks, Nova and many more. The PublicStuff team works with the other workflow team to integrate both systems so city staff doesn’t have to do a thing. If you want to know more about PublicStuff, visit their website or email [email protected].
  • #160029

    Rachel Texeira

    Hi Jennifer,

    I actually work for a company called Verivo Software that has helped mobilize dozens of local and state governments. We provide an enterprise mobility platform that enables government agencies to quickly and easily build, deploy and manage mobile apps. Our platform supports iOS, Android and BlackBerry. We’ve worked with several state and local governments to help them build apps for their citizens, as well as to improve the internal efficiencies of their government employees. Our platform is able to integrate with any back-end system so you can build customized native and hybrid apps. Here’s a link to our website if you want to learn more:

    You can also check out our white paper on mobilizing the government that provides information on trends and best practices, as well as three customer case studies.

    If you’d like more information, please feel free to reach back out to me.



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