What Can Government Do with Mobile?

This is the last part of a three-part series exploring mobile enterprise and application platforms with Red Hat, a leader in the open source industry. Read the other two blog posts here and here.

Power outages: they’re a reality far too often for cities and towns often by large storms. We’ve all been there – and we all know what it feels like when the refrigerator slowly defrosts everything stored within. Or when the lack of power leaves people stranded and unable to get out of their homes to a better location. Citizens are left out in the cold – sometimes, literally – and have to rely on word of mouth and dying cellphones to attempt to get some information on the situation at hand. It’s a nightmare for electrical companies, disaster relief agencies and government, rolled up into one natural disaster.

I remember several years ago, when Hurricane Sandy hit the mid-Atlantic region. I was living in New Jersey at the time, in a small suburban town, and when the storm passed through our area, I somehow kept power for a blissful few days – but then everything went down. Public transportation was nonexistent because of the power lines – and every time I tried to reach the crisis lines for the town, the lines were busy for hours upon hours. When I finally reached the operator, they had no information.

But what might have been different had there been a mobile app made available for New Jersey citizens, which could have provided information, resources and responsiveness during an emergency like Hurricane Sandy? It would have revolutionized the emergency responsiveness experience for everyone involved – government agencies and citizens alike. It was only until after the hurricane hit that public sector officials in New Jersey finally developed an emergency app for residents.

We’ve looked at how mobile devices have now become our best friends – even within government agencies – and how mobile strategies could revolutionize interactions in the public sector. Now it’s time to delve into what agencies stand to gain by taking advantage of the mobile device world.

To understand how government could develop different mobile uses, GovLoop sat down with Josh Bentley, Mobility Sales Specialist, Red Hat, to discuss different case studies that have already taken place through various agencies. Bentley prefaced things by noting, “Specifically, we optimize the public sector’s challenges, whether or not they’re looking at cloud or they’re looking at it on premise deployment. We’re there to work with their teams and their departments to take their use cases. We’re there to ensure Red Hat gives public sector solutions that mobilizes data and helps them achieve greater value for challenges being faced as an organization.”

And it’s more necessary than ever. In 2012, the number of smartphone users reached 106.7 million, with more than 94% of those users accessing the Internet through their mobile devices. By 2020, globally, there will be 9.2 billion mobile subscribers – more than 70% of the world’s population. It’s pretty clear: government agencies need to go mobile, quickly.

Bentley shared a use case for one federal agency: “Let’s say there’s an agency worker responsible for heading out in times of disaster. As a field worker heading out in a time of disaster, they need to do things like barcode scanning to locate –believe it or not – people.” This use has wider implications than simply being a mobile application – it has a critical importance that affects citizens and agencies across the United States.

More than just a case use, the above is an example that transcends disaster inspections, but also applies to moments of insurance deployment. Ultimately, many agencies have employees on the road collecting a great deal of information – information that has amazing potential to go mobile. Rather than having to deal with the inefficient process of paperwork followed by digital inputting, agencies stand only to gain from mobile use.

Interested in more? Tune into our earlier posts about mobile devices and one on interactions revolutionized in the public sector. Also make sure to check out Red Hat’s page about the mobile enterprise platform, and their report about Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS), which attempts to fill the gap between traditional app platforms and mobile apps.


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