Google Glass: The Next Step in Citizen Engagement?

Below is an excerpt from our Citizen Engagement guide — it’s a great interview with David Fletcher, Utah’s CIO, about some of the state’s new initiatives.

Want more on citizen engagement? Then make sure to sign up for Carahsoft’s Fourth Annual Citizen Engagement Seminar on June 19th! At the event, your government peers will share best practices and current strategies on how to improve engaging the public, streamlining the delivery of services, and improving constituents’ overall satisfaction. Register now to hear perspectives and strategies on how government public sector experts and your those in federal, and state and local governments are changing the way government engages with citizens.

Utah’s state website recently launched a transit-tracking application for Google Glass, the first state government wearable technology app intended to enable citizens using public transportation to track vehicle location and route. Tell us more about this app, what you hope to accomplish with it and where the idea for it came from.

As part of Utah’s mobile strategy, the state provides services to platforms that are most used by our citizens. We view wearables as a component in our mobile services strategy and wanted to get some experience developing for wearables. Our developers had several Google Glass developer kits so it became an opportunity for us to try out a real-life application that could be used by Google Glass users in Utah’s developer community.

The application provides alerts and real-time information about Utah’s transit service. Although there are not a lot of Glass users yet, we gained some insight and understanding of the wearables interface and what works as well as how much effort it takes to develop for it. In this case, we were able to work with the existing back end and adapt the application for Glass.

Do you see other applications for Google Glass for government technology and citizen engagement?

Certainly, but we will probably not focus on more development for the platform until its user base grows and it becomes publicly available.

The state of Utah’s Google Plus page has over 200,000 followers. How and why did you decide to get started on Google Plus?

We started out on Google Plus the day it became available for “businesses,” but it didn’t really start taking off until December 2012. We had 3,000 followers at that time and have been adding about 10,000 a month or so. Personally, I like the platform. There are no ads, which works out well for government, and it has an impact on our search engine ratings (Google) so it is part of our [search engine optimization] strategy to increase engagement with citizens and increase the use of services on Utah.gov. Since 2012, we have grown from an average monthly unique visitor count to the domain of 1.2 million to more than 1.6 million in 2014 and our SEO strategy has played a role in that.

What tips or best practices would you offer for other agencies or departments looking to start on Google Plus?

Just do it. It’s a good platform and an opportunity to create additional communities that you might not find elsewhere.

Get more tips by downloading our new Citizen Engagement guide.

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