A space for government city leaders to discuss and share best practices on the use of technology to save time and money plus improve accountability to those they govern.
Should Local Government Provide Free Smart Phones?
March 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm #155125
I was in Philadelphia a few weeks back and noticed any interesting trend where most small businesses had smart phones at their registers to check out.
Most of the businesses had at least 2 smartphones there as they were provided by a couple competing companies (one was LevelUp) as ways folks could pay and get rewards.
Made me think – is there a way to do something similar in government as a way to bridge the digital divide and get all citizens involved in mobile reporting? Provide a handful of smart phones at libraries with citizen focused apps like CitySourced. Or tap into the already existing free cell phones for low-income citizens that exist as part of a FCC settlement and encourage their use for local government functions.
What do you think – should local governments provide free smart phones?
March 8, 2012 at 12:21 am #155147
I think (and hope) there will be a bigger push on increasing the technology infrastructure in the US, such that high speed data connection is available to all at a reasonable price. However, that dream is still far away.
Until that time, businesses and governments that increasingly expanding offerings online, need to remember that a significant population still does not have online access. In addition, different socioeconomic and racial groups are disproportionately affected. Therefore, providing mobile devices can be a low cost alternative to ensure you uniformly provide access to your services.
March 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm #155145
Leonel B SarabiaParticipant
Our Government is elected by the American people. If all Americans had a smartphone, they could be able to communicative in Real Time to our Government. The smartphones could be paid with our tax dollars and be part of the budget. The biggest advantage that I see today is that more Americans would VOTE with their smartphones in Real Time. And the advantage list goes on and on.
March 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm #155143
Kenny Paul KeelParticipant
You have got to be kidding! It is bad enough that our overreaching federal government is taxing cell phone users to pay for others to get so-called “free” cell phones. This is not a service that local, state, or federal government should be providing. So, to answer the question…ABSOLUTELY NOT!
March 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm #155141
Edward S. McRoyParticipant
Many Cities today already make internet access available to the public free from computers and/or kiosks at their facilities such as libraries, recreation centers, and city halls. It is not clear therefore how free smart phones at service locations would necessarily provide an additional public benefit that justifies the additional expense. Distributing smart phones to neighborhood watch groups or other volunteers gathering information for the city however, could potentially prove to be cost effective and/or more operationally effective than other means of gathering data.
March 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm #155139
Good feedback. Do you think the same about government sponsoring and building high-speed optical fiber cable? How do we balance between core infrastructure that benefits society at large with unnecessary distribution of resources?
March 15, 2012 at 9:18 pm #155137
March 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm #155135
Kenny Paul KeelParticipant
For the most part, I don’t think government should be sponsoring and building high-speed optical fiber cable. However, I could agree with some limited sponsored infrastructure in rural areas where there is not enough density for the free market to provide it (like rural electrification in the early 1900’s). I don’t think that towns and cities should be providing this (since their densities should be sufficient for service providers to build it and make a profit), but possibly state and/or federal government could. With that being said, it is hard for me to see how high speed internet is “necessary” like electricity is. Even the most rural areas typically have phone lines. It may be slow internet, but it works. Also, now that high speed internet through cell providers is available in more and more areas, it seems that there is not a need for any government entity to be paying for it anywhere.
March 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm #155133
I understand and agree with you for the most part. A small part of me thinks that increased access would allow for more/better public services and also education opportunities. In reality, I really don’t want to subsidize internet access so people can upload photos to Facebook more easily or play online games faster.
March 15, 2012 at 10:17 pm #155131
Exactly. That was kind of my point – most cities offer desktop and Internet access via libraries. Most university libraries actually allow folks to check out laptops as well. I see potentially distributing smart phones to neighborhoods as in the same vein.
Just putting it out there as an option as one resolution to the issue of smartphone divide.
March 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm #155129
Edward S. McRoyParticipant
A company out of the Las Vegas area (App-order) has a smart phone app they provide free of charge for citizen’s to report code violations. Tucson AZ, Avondale, AZ, San Antonio, TX, and Salinas CA among others are using the app. I beleive the cities invoved may hae provided some staff support to customize the app to local codes. This same company has a fee-based license version that cities can use for in-house enforcement staff.
SeeClickFix has been around for some time now and their basic app is also free to the public. They also have a fee-based subscriber service that provides host entities enhanced reporting and task management features.
Another app of potential note is YouTown. Their service at this point however appears to be more like a traditional web page boiled down into a basic app. They do not appear to be as widely distributed as the first two and this product isn’t really easily comparable to the first two.
I sense that other software companies in the case/project management business are seeing the trend towards smart phone/tablets and away from laptops. If they haven’t done so already, I think they will soon move towards launching their own smart phone/tablet products in the next few years.
March 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm #155127
I work at CitySourced and we’ve been creating apps for two and half years now. I’m familiar with those other competitors. What differentiates us:
- Available on a 4 major phone platforms – iPhone, Android, Windows, and Blackberry
- Integration with existing government work order systems – Many free/low cost apps are completely separate of the city’s existing workflow.
- Custom Report Types – Without the ability to customize report types, municipalities and citizens are at the mercy of the app developer.
Would be interested to hear more thoughts features that are important?
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