Over the weekend, I read a great NY Times article entitled “Making Us Safer, One iPad at a Time”.
In this article, the author Steven Cohen describes the current case of judicial paperwork. Basically, when an officer arrests an individual, the officer writes info by hand into memo books, clerks decipher these memos and enter into data systems, and the forms are faxed to prosecutors’ offices where new clerks re-enter the info. Information is often misinterpreted along the way, leading to failed prosecutions.
Cohen argues that with an iPad and either voice recognition software or simple touch program, agencies can save thousands of hours and dollars by having the officer enter the information once – the first time it’s in their mind.
I think there is a huge opportunity here for government to improve government by bringing together tablets and new software. In particular, I see two pieces of low-hanging fruit:
1. Data Collection: Any form of data collection that requires multiple steps can easily be done with tablets and the price point is so low (Android tablets are around $200 and the iPad Mini is at $350). Imagine property surveyors, building inspectors, field agents all easily completing initial data collection with a tablet and simple mobile workflow software.
2. Service Delivery: Imagine government-issued tablets at libraries and government buildings designated to be used to transact government services. Want to request SNAP benefits? You could wait in line, but you can also use the stationed tablets next to the service desk to quickly fill out yourself (like the self-checkins at airports versus talking to a gate agent)
What do you see as the biggest use cases for tablets in government?
What processes could be fixed in your agency?