Below is an article about mobile that was published by ICMA. The link is
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Making Sense Out of Mobile
by Spencer Stern, Founder & President, Stern Consulting LLC – 10 July 2012
The immense growth of the smart phone market has led to a proliferation of mobile apps. There seems to be an app for every unique preference. A quick browse through the android market will reveal such titles as “How to Tie a Tie,” “Clinton Burger Stand,” and “Pencil Sketch.” Recent surveys indicate that nearly 80% of downloaded apps are rarely used. So how does this impact the public sector?
Not to be outdone, government mobile apps are becoming more popular. Tech-centric hubs such as San Francisco and Boston are leading the way. There are apps for bus and train information, service request processing, park & rec registration, and utility payments, among others.
Is the advent of all this actually making it more challenging for our constituents to communicate with us? By offering too many options, are we confusing our constituents and thereby minimizing their interactions with our municipalities? Too early to say at this point, but it warrants monitoring. As public sector employees, we need to conduct rigorous research and invest our scarce resources wisely to ensure we are selecting and deploying solutions that optimize our constituent’s experience.
How can we, as municipal leaders, try to ride this wave? As a starting point, pursuing this 4C approach may be helpful.
- Centralize mobile development. Select one department, perhaps the Public Information Office, to lead your mobile initiatives to avoid deploying apps that may not interoperate, be inconsistent with your existing infrastructure, and each have a different look and feel
- Consolidate mobile apps. For example, is it possible to create a single app for all transportation services such as bus, train, light rail, as opposed to having separate apps? Can there be single app for payment as opposed to different ones for water, sewer, and permits?
- Conduct hackathons. A hackathon is an event in which computer programmers, software developers, graphic designers, and interface designers, among others collaborate on software-related projects. Though some hackathons are for educational or social purposes, in many cases the objective is to create usable software, or improve existing software. Work closely with your constituents by sponsoring hackathons that are designed to develop apps specifically for your municipality. Many municipalities, including Chattanooga and San Diego, have successfully conducted hackathons. Consider leveraging crowdsourcing techniques and social media outlets to generate interest and attendance.
- Consult with outside developers. Engage your constituents who, for example, attend hackathons to determine if they would be interested in serving on an app development advisory committee or even provide services on a temporary basis to help support your initiatives.
Recent studies by technology-based research firms conclude that the smartphone/tablet market will grow much quicker than the laptop market over the next five years. Local governments that can adapt and provide services leveraging mobile technology will be able to engage their constituents in new and innovative ways by following the principle of the 4Cs.
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