GovCloud 2.0 apps for citizen service

When it comes to embracing social media and applications, many businesses seem to question the benefit.

True, if you are a consumer goods manufacturer, there is inherent benefit in associating yourself with social media and consumer applications, but what about for Government agencies? Does it make sense for Governments, especially municipal, to look at creating both internal and external applications?

One of the more recent examples of municipalities that have embraced social applications is Riverside, California. They created an application, Riverside 311, to be used on smartphones as a way to better interact with residents.

The original project stemmed from the need to find better ways to communicate with residents aside from the 33,000 calls they receive every month reporting everything from potholes to downed trees. They simply did not have the internal infrastructure and staff to support the service and answer inquiries, and so the idea of having residents submit requests through a smartphone application just made sense.

As a result, they have seen a steady increase in reports that are generated through the application, and has led to some great side benefits such as the ability for residents to take pictures of crime such as graffiti, to help police match taggers and get vandalism cleaned up more effectively than previously. It has also empowered residents to help clean up their city and make it safer.

Creating public-facing applications is really an easy way to help governments gain more interaction with their citizens. It gives citizens and residents the ability to interact more efficiently with Government agencies, and rewards these agencies with a wealth of information such as GPS locations to help reduce process times.

The key issue is that the application has to provide perceived value to users, or it really is a waste of effort. Users want applications that save them time and effort in accessing commonly used services such as locating government offices, finding public services, or even just looking for local information. The easier it is to use, the more likely users will choose the application versus standard web surfing.

Luckily there are a lot of great Canadian developers who are helping Governments and agencies develop application platforms to support this next-generation method of interaction.

These companies understand the unique requirements for developing for multiple platforms, and how to properly integrate them with back-end process. The advantage with outsourcing is that these organizations can provide guidance on scope and anticipated costs better and provide a governance structure that involves the right stakeholders.

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