Tag Archive | mobile apps

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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Social Media is a Team Effort

According to a recent study conducted by the American Red Cross, more than half of the general public relies on online news and up to twenty percent use social media to get information about an emergency such as a power outage, severe weather, flash flood, hurricane, earthquake, or tornado.

Emergency social media users are most likely to seek information about weather, traffic, and damage caused by an event, and then share that information along with a reassurance of safety. Of this online population, nearly one third would try an online channel for help, if unable to reach local emergency services.

Mobile applications now tie social media as the fourth-most popular way to get information in an emergency, following TV, radio and online news. The survey found that 20 percent of respondents said they have obtained some kind of emergency information from a mobile app, including emergency apps, those sponsored by news outlets, and privately developed apps.

Other key findings include:Social Media Red Cross Data Infographic

  • Three out of four Americans (76 percent) expect help in less than three hours of posting a request on social media, up from 68 percent last year.
  • Forty percent of those surveyed said they would use social tools to tell others they are safe, up from 24 percent last year.
  • A majority of respondents feel that local emergency response organizations should regularly monitor their websites for emergency requests, roughly half of the general public and 58 percent of the online population doubt that they do.

A well-documented example of using social media during an emergency has been shared by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado.

In March of this year, as the county battled the Lower North Fork fire, a team of twelve Public Information Officers fought the information side of the fire through an integrated public information campaign that heavily utilized social media in support of more traditional media and public information strategies.

By the incident’s end, over 130 blog posts, 450 Twitter posts and an interactive Google map had been shared with the public. The JSCO blog has extensive documentation and analysis of their integrated social media strategy. It provides an excellent road map for best practices using a wide variety of social media channels and tools, and how to prepare a strategy in advance.

Read both reports in detail here:



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