Dear Government: Do you have an app for that?

If you’re like me, the thought of being away from your smartphone, even for a day, creates a sense of anxiety. These days, I’m checking email, paying bills, managing schedules, and navigating on road trips — all from my smart phone. It’s become indispensable. As smartphones become more central to our everyday lives, more people want to know from their service providers (including government): Do you have an app for that?

According to Forrester Research, one billion consumers will own a smartphone by 2016 — that’s roughly one seventh of the world’s population! For government, this represents a massive constituency of citizens who are increasingly accustomed to — and now expect — having access to mobile services served up via their smartphones.

Recognising this growing demand being placed on government, we’re constantly working with our developer community to come up with creative ideas for government apps that promote civic engagement and provide new avenues for providing services to citizens. For several years now, we’ve even held developer competitions to help catalyse mobile app development in government. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out what our developer community has dreamed up for both federal and state and local government from recent competitions. Below are some of my personal favourite government apps that have been developed for Windows Phone 7.

Advanced Mobile 311
Advanced Mobile 311 is an easy-to-use, cloud-based crowdsourcing solution specifically designed for municipalities and organisations that wish to empower their citizens or employees to quickly and accurately generate service requests using their personal smart phones. Users can quickly identify the location of an issue on an interactive map, search and select the appropriate service code from the customers' source systems, attach a photograph, and include ad-hoc comments and contact information for follow-up.

United Nations News
United Nations News lets you keep in touch with the latest news from the international community, global events, and initiatives from around the world. The well-travelled global citizen will find this app invaluable in keeping up with what's truly important in today's world.

Eye on Earth
Based on data from the European Environment Agency (EEA), Eye on Earth is a mobile app developed for Windows Phone 7 that visualises environmental data (e.g. air and water quality) in real-time, allowing policy makers to stay more informed about the state of the environment, as well as expanding data access to European citizens, helping them make more informed health decisions based on changing environmental factors.

Love Clean Streets
This is a fantastic app developed to enable citizens around the world to use their mobile phones to report “grime crime” and other issues to their local authorities. That includes things like graffiti, littering, and potholes. Using the free mobile app, users can submit reports in as little as 40 seconds. Simply take a photo, add a brief description and hit send. Evidence from Lewisham, where it all started, shows complaints about graffiti fell by 30 per-cent within two years of the introduction of the mobile app, and the amount and frequency of graffiti observed in the London borough fell by eight per-cent. Pretty impressive!

World of Politics
This app is similar to the United Nations News app, in that it is a news aggregator. It’s one of my favourite sources for political news happening throughout the international community. It draws content using an RSS news feed from websites like BBC, CNN, Reuters and many others.

Posted by Howard