What’s Your Agency’s Mobile Strategy?

More and more agencies are moving towards implementing mobile government strategies to streamline processes and engage citizens. While some organizations are just starting to develop mobile strategies, others have been adopting strategies for years. The good news is that no matter where your agency falls on the mobile strategy spectrum, there are tools available to help you get the most out of mobile.

In order to better understand mobile strategy solutions, Christopher Thomas, Director of Government Markets at Esri joined GovLoop for a recent online training, “Redefining Government Through a Mobile Strategy.”

Mobile strategies have come a long way since the first Nokia and mobile GPS systems. Early mobile strategies largely focused solely on field data collection. Thomas explained that the shift to mobile allowed practitioners who were previously going out into the field to collect data with a paper survey and clipboard to start utilizing GPS capabilities and electronic data collection on mobile devices.

As the mobile revolution moves forward, new mobile strategies aim to have an impact on the entire workflow of organizations rather than just data collection. “Changing the workflow means using mobile to collect data that can be instantly fed back to a dashboard, allowing organizations to make real-time, data drive decisions,” Thomas explained. For example, when inventorying homeless individuals, practitioners can use mobile devices and GPS information to gather data about homeless populations and provide solutions in real time.

Incorporating the entire workflow into a mobile strategy allows governments to be more holistic in its capabilities and approach. Mobile field-to-back office communications allows collected data to be fed into a management system or executive dashboard. “The emphasis on mobile data supports real time decision making which allows processes to move at a faster pace and meet the growing expectations the public has of the government,” Thomas said.

Smart GIS is a solution that allows agencies to improve processes and meet citizen expectations. Thomas explained, “old mobile processes focused on automating the system of record however, this mobile government solution builds upon the automating the system of record by adding a system of engagement and a system of insight to make the overall solution more holistic.” The system of engagement promotes interagency communication as well as citizen engagement while the system of insight allows for quick analysis of data that previously would have taken months.

The holistic approach to mobile government is largely made possible because of ArcGIS applications that support mobile processes. Thomas emphasized that while ArcGIS apps can be used as standalone systems, they are designed to work together within an agencies’ mobile strategy. Thomas showed a video overview of the ArcGIS applications available additionally, some examples of ArcGIS applications include:

  • Explorer for ArcGIS: allows users to take data out of the field and put it into a dashboard so they will always have the most current information at their fingertips.
  • Collector for ArcGIS: provides form tools so users can automate and digitalize paper forms. Additionally, this tool can be coordinated with GPS for higher accuracy and can be accessed on or offline.
  • Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS: delivers a customizable monitoring system that allows users to build a dashboard and integrate it with other business systems. Back office users are also able to comment on and adjust workloads as they are reported, promoting more efficient daily operations.
  • Workforce for ArcGIS: allows users to reassign their field workforce in real time as there is a change in activity that demands the reallocation of employees.

Thomas explained that many government organizations are successfully using ArcGIS applications to enhance their mobile strategy and overall operating processes. One example he gave was of the City of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Rancho Cucamonga utilizes Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS to build a series of applications for public works offices, the police department and the fire department. The information gathered on these apps is fed to the leadership dashboard in each organization and the city manager, police chief and fire chief are able to look at the dashboard on an iPad every morning and make changes for operations based on what information they see. Thomas emphasized that through Rancho Cucamonga’s mobile strategy and use of the operation dashboard, they are able to more efficiently run operations throughout the city.

In order to promote more instances like the aforementioned example, Esri is co-hosting a Smart Communities Innovation Challenge. The goal of the program is to foster mobile government across the public sector and will provide ten winning organizations with the technology, training, and software they need to jump start their mobile government. Thomas explained, “our hope is that we can learn what people are thinking and if patterns are repeating themselves so government organizations can learn from each other.” He concluded, “the evidence is pretty clear and the reality is that patterns of mobile engagement are not isolated to one successful county or city, rather it is something that you too can pick up and do in your organizations.”

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