Mobile & Government Efficiency
“Three objects were considered essential across all participants, cultures and genders: keys, money and mobile phone.”
- Jan Chipchase, Nokia trend-spotter, Tedtalk 2007
Both the private and public sectors are challenged by mobile. While the private sector sees financial opportunities, government agencies can use mobile technologies to achieve their missions and better serve the American public.
Mobile allows agencies to get information to—and potentially engage—the public efficiently and creatively. Agencies are starting by taking existing information or services and repackaging them for new devices. In mobile form, these services can provide immediate alerts, save call center costs, and make the most of existing government data stores.
- Citizens can have health information sent directly to their phones by signing up for a daily text message (SMS) health tip from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Taxpayers can check their refund status on the go with the Internal Revenue Service’s app, IRS2go—saving the IRS expensive, call-center interactions.
- Travelers can learn about airport delays and what they can carry on a flight from the Transportation Security Administration’s My TSA app for smartphone and mobile Web. While there are contact center savings here, too, TSA also updates answers for all information channels--website and call center-- based on feedback that users share via the mobile app.
- People with concerns about food safety and handling can access food-safety information anytime, anywhere with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ask Karen. Users with iPhones and Androids can also get questions answered by live chat.
Mobile websites provide pertinent information on top government tasks, saving mobile users time and headaches. Some agencies are creating mobile websites for specific audiences and tasks.
- Disaster survivors can use their mobile devices to access m.fema.gov to find disaster recovery centers and find out how to let their families know they are safe. The Federal Emergency Management Agency designed it to meet the needs of people who don’t have electricity but who have a charge left in their cell phones.
- Spanish speakers can use GobiernoUSA.gov mobile to find government information in Spanish.
- Prospective employees can look for jobs and internships using USAJobs, NSA Career Links, and NCI @ NIH Summer Internship Program.
Opening up agency data stores can also provide efficiencies. For example, agencies combined data from four different data sets in the Product Recalls app. A single agency could not provide all the product, food, and vehicle recall data that people want. Bringing the data together and making it available on mobile puts it in the hands of consumers when they are making purchase decisions. This improves the citizen’s experience. See Mobile & Government Transparency for more on using government data.