Mobile & Government Innovations
“The Mobile Web Initiative is important - information must be made seamlessly available on any device.”
- Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
Mobile technology is not only moving people away from desktop computers—mobile devices are also changing how people interact. People increasingly expect to be able to get the information they want, wherever they are, when they need it.
Mobile isn’t just another delivery channel or a little computer. Mobile opens up new ways for government to interact with the public. Phones have features such as GPS (global positioning systems), cameras, touch screens, gyroscopes, near-field communications (NFC), and the ability to control other devices—like TV remotes.
These advanced functions allow organizations to rethink services and allow interactions within the users’ environment. For instance, consumers can now use smartphones in stores to scan barcodes to comparison shop to find the best deals. Coffee purveyor Starbucks introduced a mobile payment application that was used by 3 million customers in two months.
Mobile devices are not only used to make transactions in consumer markets, they are also being used to innovate services in education and health. The Army is using QR codes—those black and white boxes that look like a maze—so that soldiers can scan and to get training support when they need it, without lugging around manuals.
Mobile allows innovation in government service and information delivery that we could only imagine a few years ago.
- Workers can track and save their wage hours with the Department of Labor's Timesheet.
- People can keep track of their vitamins and other supplements to more easily share this information with their physician using My Dietary Supplements (MyDS) from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements.
- Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) can help manage the stresses of daily life with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ PTSD Coach.
As people increasingly expect information to interact with their environment, government needs to innovate and use more interactive features. Some agencies have already started.
- People can find the nearest post office with U. S. Postal Service Tools when the user enables the app’s geo-location feature.
- People can check the quality and speed of their broadband connection with the Federal Communications Commission’s Mobile Broadband Test app.
- People with visual impairments can use their phone’s camera to scan money and check the denomination of their bills using the Bureau of Engraving’s Eyenote.
- Shoppers can scan products in the store to find product-recall information with Product Recalls app.
Other examples are coming soon. Some agencies are experimenting with augmented reality and using it to provide additional information about an exhibit, or even location, by using the phone’s camera and a dataset. Others are exploring how the public can add to a dataset by uploading photos or videos from their phones. This is just the beginning of Mobile Gov innovation.