Mobile & Government Transparency
There are 4 billion cell phones in use today. Many of them are in the hands of market vendors, rickshaw drivers, and others who've historically lacked access to education and opportunity. Information networks have become a great leveler, and we should use them together to help lift people out of poverty and give them a freedom from want.
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Newseum speech on Internet Freedom
Mobile Gov creates opportunities to bridge the digital divide, to increase transparency and to open government.
- Pew found that low-income teens were more likely to access the Internet via cell phones than desktop computers—helping to bridge the digital divide.
- For people with some disabilities, smartphone features are making information available without requiring assistive devices.
If government wants to reach everyone, mobile is definitely part of the mix.
A report on collaboration in a local community found that transparency is associated with residents’ personal feelings of empowerment. Put simply, people who think that their government delivers services and shares information believe they can have an impact on government. This suggests that good, open mobile products can build trust and engagement between citizens and the government.
Many government agencies are providing mobile products and services that open government information and data.
- People can find government information, anytime, anywhere from any device using the USA.gov mobile app or mobile optimized website.
- Citizens can track government spending on projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in their area on the Recovery.gov app.
- Government IT project information is available via the IT Dashboard mobile website.
- Expectant parents can find 130 years of popular baby names in the Social Security Administration’s Baby Name Playroom. While they are looking at baby names, the app makes available just-in-time resources on child care, safety, pregnancy and public assistance.
- The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) created Today’s Doc, which features a U.S. historical document related to the day, and opens their Washington, DC, collections to anyone, anywhere.
Transparency efforts have made hundreds of thousands of public government datasets available on Data.gov for innovative use by the private sector. This opens up great possibilities for mobile development. The Department of Health and Human Services has created a community on Data.gov explicitly to develop new health data products, including mobile. Agencies have opened datasets and encouraged mobile app development on Challenge.gov—using contests and prizes as incentives for private citizens and entrepreneurs to build new tools.
There is also opportunity for collaboration with state, local, and tribal and territorial governments. Combining federal data with local services will create some of the most useful Mobile Gov apps for the public.
Efforts to make applications location-aware, to combine cross-agency data streams in a single app, and to make decision-level data available will improve the quality and success of government mobile apps. By taking advantage of mobile device features, developing mobile strategies and products, and making more data available for third-party developers, agencies can put more data and information into the hands of the public and work to build trust.
About the Mobile Gov Community of Practice
This report was developed in collaboration with the Mobile-Gov Community of Practice—a cross-government, multidisciplinary community dedicated to creating open systems and technical assistance tools to build a public-centric path to government anytime, anywhere.
See http://www.howto.gov/tech-solutions/mobile/community for information about the Mobile-Gov Community of Practice or contact community manager Jacob Parcell at firstname.lastname@example.org.