State of the App

State and local governments are increasingly turning to mobile applications to connect with citizens and staff. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) just published an online catalog of apps organized by state and service. NASCIO researchers have cataloged approximately 160 apps so far with the potential to add hundreds more.

NASCIO wants to encourage states to share ideas and inspire each other to create more. Some states developed their apps in-house while others partnered with private companies or built upon on apps created by other states.

There are two types of apps; a “native app” that must be downloaded onto a device, or a “mobile web app” that functions as a portal to an existing website Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 1.26.45 PM

For example, the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs offers businesses a mobile web app they can use to file annual reports and immediately download important documents they might need for loans or leases.  By contrast, the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s new commuting app is native: It allows users to program their commuting routes and alerts them about delays, construction projects and accidents. It was downloaded 100,000 times in its first three months.

The City of Elk Grove in California was looking to create a custom application for citizen engagement and support when it discovered the startup platform PublicStuff. Offered as both a mobile application and website, PublicStuff functions as a 311-type service for more than 200 cities across the country. There is no cost for residents to download and use the application. Cities pay a small annual fee that varies with the level of customization and functionality required.

Resident submissions such as sending a photo of graffiti are recorded, acknowledged and forwarded to appropriate city staff. The resident is then notified when the issue is resolved.

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