Citizen Engagement Improves With Government Mobility

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By: Esther Shein|

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Mobility, federal agencies and innovation aren’t terms that tend to go hand in hand, but the government has been working to change that to achieve better citizen engagement. Workers are increasingly using tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices to stay productive and collaborate with colleagues. The use of mobile apps allows agencies to deliver government services more quickly and easily provide information to a widely dispersed population.

Demand for consumer ease of use is high: According to a recent survey of federal employees by the Government Business Council (GBC), 40 percent of smartphone users look up government services and information on their mobile device. It ranks mobility as not just a service, but an operational priority.

Improving Citizen Engagement

Agencies are challenged with how to best incorporate mobility into their existing infrastructure and IT environment, and it shows. Public satisfaction with federal customer service is at an eight-year low, the GBC report found, and agencies are increasingly seeking new and innovative ways to improve the delivery of digital tools and services and make content more accessible.

When asked which area they would like their agency to prioritize, more respondents identified improving customer experience platforms than any other potential task. As it stands, 1 in 4 respondents are only slightly or not at all satisfied with the IT services their agency provides to its customers, the GBC report stated.

Another critical piece of the mobility challenge is for agencies to ensure IT services function across multiple devices and databases, the report found.

The federal government could follow the city of Miami’s lead. With a mission to improve citizen engagement and provide easy access to information, the city deployed a series of free apps that provide information on the go and a Mobile Application Center where the apps can be found.

Among the offerings are a traffic app that allows residents to hear traffic reports and breaking news; a 311Direct app so residents can report neighborhood problems; an app for the Miami International Airport that provides information on everything from where to grab a quick meal preflight to arranging ground transportation; and real-time information on transit services in the greater Miami area.

Making Mobile Programs Effective

With little doubt about the transformative benefits mobility brings to the table, the challenge is figuring out how to make critical information available seamlessly while keeping it secure and ensuring compliance. Citizen engagement doesn’t just magically occur when government workers start using smartphones or tablets. Agencies should think like a business, especially when it comes to the ROI they can realize when investing in ways to make employees more efficient.

Mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs) help agencies handle both general functions and more specific tasks related to their missions in a coordinated fashion. But with the rapid pace of technological change, especially when it comes to mobility, agencies often need help implementing these MEAPs. They need partners specializing in mobility deployments to select the most appropriate solution for an agency’s specific needs while ensuring they meet their budget needs and comply with regulations.

Mobility is here to stay. With the backing of a White House mandate to give citizens the ability to access government information and services on demand via any device, a technology solutions partner can reduce complexity and significantly improve the ability to make the most of the power mobility offers.

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About The Author

Esther Shein

Freelance Writer

Esther Shein is a freelance writer and editor specializing in technology, business and education. Her work has appeared in several online and print publications, including Inc., Computerworld, NetworkComputing, InformationWeek, BYTE, CIO, CMO.com and The Boston Globe. She has written thought leadership whitepapers, customer case studies and marketing materials in addition to news and feature articles. Prior to going freelance she was the editor-in-chief of Datamation, an online enterprise technology magazine. She was also a senior writer at eWeek (formerly PC Week) and worked at The Associated Press.

Articles by Esther Shein
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