Innovation: Government Using Mobile Apps For Civic Engagement

apps-mobile-iphone(1)Mobile apps are ingrained in our everyday lives – in and out of work. Every business leader is urging their company to develop and utilize apps that make life easier for their customers. Especially as we move toward a new world of connectivity termed the Internet of Things. This trend is not only in industry, it is growing in government and especially for digital government.

According to Flurry, an application analytics provider, users spend 2 hours and 42 minutes per day on mobile devices and mobile app usage accounts for 2 hours and 19 minutes of that time. Additionally, Gartner forecasts that mobile app stores will see annual downloads reach 268 billion in 2017 and total revenue of $77 billion.

Four years ago, the Obama administration released the “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People” strategy as a roadmap to guide agencies to the future of the public sector. The President said that “Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere, and on any device” and specifically asked each agency to create at least two apps to help the public make use of available technology.

Agencies have bought in, because not only do mobile apps give citizens the control they deserve, it gives them a quick way to connect with agencies and ultimately increases civic engagement. And as for the benefits to agencies, these apps provide a way to reach the masses and gather valuable constituent information that will revolutionize how agencies make better informed decisions about polices plans and projects. In Fact, the General Services Administration (GSA) has set up the “The Mobile Apps Gallery” that offers more than 200 agency applications that can be filtered by various platforms.

For example, app developers created a free iPhone app designed to help military veterans who are distressed and need help readjusting to civilian life. Military and veteran suicide levels have been at an all-time high and the app will help vets find each other for moral support along with health centers, emergency care and job fairs. There’s also a federal government app to track and catch child predators that helped the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations Division apprehend a suspect within 36 hours. And lastly, think of the impact mobile apps could have on tracking epidemics such as the Zika virus Already, government agencies including the CDC and private commercial companies are developing applications and tools to help control pandemics that play a critical role in containing the spread of contagious diseases.

By using mobile apps in constituent service, agencies can increase response times and increase efficiencies. Agents are also able to flag app inquires by priority and respond to requests no matter their location. Customer service mobile apps can also go as far as including intelligent technology like avatars that provide interactive voice and video response systems to provide responsive assistance via analytics to better understand issues and route calls accurately. This type of intelligent technology can increase internal collaboration by giving customer service agents the most up-to-date information on current customer service trends and allow agents to proactively provide information to constituents based on the context of problems occurring at that time.

It goes without saying that consumers are turning to their mobile devices and apps to supplement and/or enhance daily activities and it’s critical that the public sector take advantage of those ready-made touch points for adaptive and more efficient constituent service.


Chuck Brooks
Chuck Brooks
Chuck Brooks is a globally recognized thought leader and evangelist for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies. LinkedIn named Chuck as one of “The Top 5 Tech People to Follow on LinkedIn”. He was named by Thompson Reuters as a “Top 50 Global Influencer in Risk, Compliance,” and by IFSEC as the “#2 Global Cybersecurity Influencer” in 2018. He is also a Cybersecurity Expert for “The Network” at the Washington Post, Visiting Editor at Homeland Security Today, and a Contributor to FORBES. In government, Chuck has received two senior Presidential appointments. Under President George W. Bush Chuck was appointed to The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the first Legislative Director of The Science & Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security. He also was appointed as Special Assistant to the Director of Voice of America under President Reagan. He served as a top Advisor to the late Senator Arlen Specter on Capitol Hill covering security and technology issues on Capitol Hill. In local government, he also worked as an Auxiliary Police officer for Arlington, Virginia. In industry, Chuck has served in senior executive roles for General Dynamics as the Principal Market Growth Strategist for Cyber Systems, at Xerox as Vice President & Client Executive for Homeland Security, for Rapiscan and Vice President of R & D, for SRA as Vice President of Government Relations, and for Sutherland as Vice President of Marketing and Government Relations. In academia, Chuck is Adjunct Faculty at Georgetown University’s Applied Intelligence Program and graduate Cybersecurity Programs where he teaches courses on risk management, homeland security, and cybersecurity. He was an Adjunct Faculty Member at Johns Hopkins University where he taught a graduate course on homeland security for two years. He has an MA in International relations from the University of Chicago, a BA in Political Science from DePauw University, and a Certificate in International Law from The Hague Academy of International Law.

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