The team behind the U.S. Web Design Standards (the Standards) held their first Ask Me Anything (AMA), in August, to answer questions from their public Slack channel community. There was great excitement in the channel leading up to the chat, and more than 40 new people joined the already robust community of federal, state and local government, higher education, industry, nonprofit, and U.K. and Canada government officials that are interested in working with–and growing–the Standards.
Any time, any where, any device. Now that’s truly mobile.
At the beginning of 2017, the ITIF (Information Technology and Innovation Foundation) released a report that benchmarked 300 federal websites in four areas: page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security and accessibility. Some sites fared better than others, but the report highlighted that our federal sites have a ways to go (DigitalGov included) in these areas. Looking at these four metrics is important as they directly impact our customers’ first perceptions of the quality of our government’s digital services.
The USDA’s multilingual FoodKeeper app has been updated to include three options for receiving food recall updates and expands storage timelines to over 500 products. This post was originally published on the USDA blog. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced new updates to its popular FoodKeeper application that will provide users with new access to information on food safety recalls. The app has been updated so users can choose to receive automatic notifications when food safety recalls are announced by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Department of Health and Human Service’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Information systems—from communications platforms to internet-connected devices—require both security and privacy safeguards to work successfully and protect users in our increasingly complex and interconnected world. Toward these ends, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued a new draft revision of its widely used Special Publication (SP) 800-53, Security and Privacy Controls for Information Systems and Organizations. Developed by a joint task force consisting of representatives of the civil, defense and intelligence communities, the draft fifth revision of SP 800-53 (8.
We’d like to thank each agency and sub-agency for their partnership and participation in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP). The data below represents a view from over 4,500+ executive branch websites and the analysis we conducted wouldn’t be possible without you. Since the introduction of the iPhone a decade ago, smartphone and tablet usage has exploded, with 378 million mobile devices in use in 2015. In fact, 49 percent of U.
I recently had the chance to talk with the legendary Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the internet. We had a wide-ranging discussion about the past, present and future of the internet, network security and what it would take to successfully, safely and reliably merge the digital and physical worlds, a concept known as the “Internet of Things,” or IoT. As its name suggests, the internet of things will connect all kinds of things, bringing us a wealth of data about, well, everything that we can use to improve our lives.
Many know that digital tools have become indispensable for connecting with many audiences—but we also know that what’s available in the digital realm is always changing. So how do you know what tools are best for your purpose? And how do you plan for your organization’s digital future when the pace of change is so rapid? Recently, we asked colleagues what advice they would give for developing a digital media strategy.
It is incumbent upon FDA to ensure that we have the right policies in place to promote and encourage safe and effective innovation that can benefit consumers, and adopt regulatory approaches to enable the efficient development of these technologies. By taking an efficient, risk-based approach to our regulation, FDA can promote health through the creation of more new and beneficial medical technologies. We can also help reduce the development costs for these innovations by making sure that our own policies and tools are modern and efficient, giving entrepreneurs more opportunities to develop products that can benefit people’s lives.
The first chatbot, ELIZA, was created back in 1964 to demonstrate that communication between humans and computers would be superficial. However, much to Dr. Weizenbaum’s (ELIZA’a creator) surprise, people easily formed friendly relationships with the computer program. People forming relationships with ELIZA was especially surprising considering just how simple the program was regarding generating conversational responses. ELIZA essentially parroted back what the users typed but, this was enough to convince people that the program seemed to care about the person.
In today’s digital world, it’s imperative that government agencies safeguard citizens’ physical and electronic security. In the world of Federal IT, adopting and advancing cybersecurity can’t be accomplished in one day, or by one agency. Federal agencies must work together to tackle complex problems and stay ahead of evolving network threats. The Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management (FICAM) team helps agencies enable the right individual to access the right resource, at the right time, for the right reason.
Helping patients manage chronic pain has become an increasing challenge for health care providers, particularly in the face of an ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States. In response, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has made funding research on integrative health approaches to pain management—exploring which approaches can be implemented as part of an overall treatment strategy—a research priority.
Forbes magazine recently ran an article showcasing six handy mobile apps that were built using federal government open data. The apps range from the Alternative Fueling Station Locator to ZocDoc (a doctor locator). What I especially like about the Forbes article is that the author describes the federal government data sets behind each app. There are many more mobile apps built by federal government agencies or using federal government data sources.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has submitted a report to Congress that details current and emerging threats to the Federal government’s use of mobile devices and recommends security improvements to the mobile device ecosystem. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) led the study in coordination with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and its National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence. Mandated by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the “Study on Mobile Device Security” relied on significant input from mobile industry vendors, carriers, service providers and academic researchers.
This post was originally published on the U.S. Department of Labor Blog. They say that life can be summed up as the process of a series of doors closing. By that, they mean that opportunities for taking different paths start to disappear as you move through life. It’s a logical sentiment, but there’s an obverse to it. When you’re young, all those doors are open. Doors as far as you can see.
We hope you are finding it easier to get the information you need on USDA.gov following the launch of our site redesign in March. We’ve already welcomed over 1 million visitors to the new site and we are pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received thus far. Our redesign makes it easier for you to get the news you care about quickly and get on with your busy life. Now, you can explore “USDA in Action,” an area designed to quickly share what’s happening across the department.
We’re excited to launch a complete redesign of USDA.gov featuring stronger visual storytelling components, a more modern user-experience with easy to find services and resources, and to top it off, a completely mobile-friendly design. Through careful planning, thoughtful design, and a primary focus on user experience and usability, we’ve taken the best of government and industry expertise and put it into creating our new website. This has been a year-long project, but to do this right, we wanted to make sure we tapped into every possible resource.
The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) recently published a report, Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites, that looks at the performance, security, and accessibility of the top 297 government websites. ITIF is a think tank in Washington, D.C. whose mission is to formulate, evaluate, and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation in technology and public policy. Over the past 90 days, government websites were visited over 2.55 billion times. According to the Analytics Dashboard, 43.
The U.S. Web Design Standards are a library of design guidelines and code to help government developers quickly create trustworthy, accessible, and consistent digital government services. Last month, we announced the 1.0 release of the Standards, a milestone that signals the Standards are a stable, trustworthy resource for government designers and developers. By using the well-tested and easy-to-implement code from the Standards, developers can quickly create new websites or have a leg-up in updating existing services to have a modern, consistent feel.
DigitalGov University (DGU), the events platform for DigitalGov, provides programming to build and accelerate digital capacity by providing webinars and in-person events highlighting innovations, case studies, tools, and resources. Thanks to your participation, DGU hosted over 90 events with 6,648 attendees from over 100 agencies across federal, tribal, state, and local governments. DGU strives to provide training throughout the year that is useful and relevant to you. One of the most resounding comments from digital managers last year was people wanted to be able to attend all of our classes virtually.
One of the great challenges in designing a product — digital or otherwise — is stepping outside yourself and climbing into the minds of your users. You love the wonderful new app you’ve designed, but will it appeal to others? Fortunately, the field of user experience design (UX) gives us tools to understand our users through surveys, interviews, card sorting, and user testing. The Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Policy and Analysis has another tool to consider for your UX toolbox: IPOP.
Around Q3, I was looking for way to test the HTML and CSS of an online application that was to be public-facing. At first, my office’s plan was to connect mobile devices to the network owned by federal employees on a volunteer basis for testing. All of a sudden, a new policy came down that stated, “devices that were not purchased by the agency could not be connected to the network.
Summary: The Administration has launched a new competition for virtual and augmented reality developers to create learning tools to support career and technical education. “I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create. . . educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game. I want you guys to be stuck on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up.” President Obama, March 2011, speaking about the need for innovation in education.
Improving the way the government delivers information technology (IT) solutions to its customers isn’t just a goal, it’s our mission. We at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office know that by publishing our open source code, the public can help us come up with new and better IT solutions. In advance of the new Federal Source Code Policy and in support of the Administration’s Open Government Initiative, we have been publishing content on GitHub for over a year, and it now includes source code for a mobile application for trademarks.
I recently interviewed Daniel Kuhns, Web Manager at FEMA, about the site widgets and the FEMA app his organization has been developing. The widgets currently available include: FEMA App, Preparedness, Severe Weather, Private Sector, Kids Fire Safety, and Are you a Disaster Survivor. The FEMA App offers many features such as weather alerts, safety reminders, shelter information and contact information. This information can be very helpful in times of an emergency, and some of it, to include the safety tips, are available offline.
In April, Facebook made it possible for organizations to use chatbots to send and receive messages from users of Facebook Messenger. That’s a big deal. Facebook Messenger is now used by 900 million people every month. As the name implies, it’s a messaging platform that people use to send short messages to each other through the app. It’s the most popular messaging app in the U.S, and the second most popular of those apps worldwide, behind only WhatsApp (which Facebook also owns).
The Pew Internet and the American Life Project released a report recently that analyzed the use of digital tools for different groups of tech literacies and found some interesting ‘digital divides’ and levels of trust, usage, and skill. The report broke out 5 personas of the American people: Digitally Ready (17 percent of U.S. Adults) are the ardent digital learners confident in online information Cautious Clickers (31 percent of U.
6,000 feet deep, 18 miles wide, 5,000 people per day: The Reality of the Tribal Beat How can a place be remote and virtually unpopulated, yet constantly full of thousands of people and teeming with activity? It certainly seems impossible, but that is exactly the situation at Grand Canyon West (GCW), home of the Hualapai indigenous Indian Tribe and the famous Skywalk. Although well over an hour from the closest town, more than one million people visit each year — arriving mostly by helicopter and tour bus.
In honor of Veterans Day, several VA mobile apps are featured this week in the Apple App Store. In the “For Those Who Serve” collection of resources, Veterans can find the latest military news, essential health and wellness information, and other valuable tools for everyday life. The highlighted VA apps are designed to help Veterans manage their physical and mental health. They are part of a larger suite of VA apps that connect Veterans to essential resources and expand care outside of the VA Medical Center.
Summary: Take a look at how we plan to preserve and pass on the digital history of the Obama administration. President Obama is the first “social media president”: the first to have @POTUS on Twitter, the first to go live on Facebook from the Oval Office, the first to answer questions from citizens on YouTube, the first to use a filter on Snapchat. Over the past eight years, the President, Vice President, First Lady, and the White House have used social media and technology to engage with people around the country and the world on the most important issues of our time (while having some fun along the way).
In December, I plan to write two postings detailing a scenario analysis for the next ten years of the Federal government’s data technologies. Governments are on the cusp of amazing technological advances propelled by artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies, and the Internet of Things. Also, governments will face new challenges such as the recent global cyber attack that took down Twitter and Netflix. I want to invite you, the reader, to also send in your predictions for the future of Federal government data.
Today we’re launching three new initiatives powered by GSA Digital Communities that leap federal agencies ahead on some of the most innovative new capabilities becoming available to our programs — Artificial Intelligence, Virtual/Augmented Reality, and the U.S. Digital Registry. These new Communities and portal are products of inter-agency collaboration and our shared commitment pushing the bar forward on effective adoption of digital public services that meet the needs of citizens today and tomorrow… and plant seeds for growing long into the future.
The seemingly sci-fi world envisioned in the movie Her is very close to becoming our reality. Several new developments merging hardware, artificial intelligence technology, chatbots and persistent audio assistants are now available, with software developer kits to expand the platforms. Amazon was first to market with their Echo device, and since have added the Echo Dot, both using their voice assistant “Alexa” to allow users to play music, buy goods from Amazon, call for a cab, check the weather and other tasks—all just using their voice commands.
A few weeks ago, Progressive Web Applications, Part 1: the New Pack Mule of the Internet _introduced PWAs and the technologies behind them. We shared that article to the MobileGov Community of Practice and asked about the pros and cons of this approach to winning mobile moments._ What Are Some Benefits of PWAs? PWAs bring a host of advantages over the traditional native mobile and Web methodologies including:
Come out and join us on Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm for a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on Gender Equality in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Register for this event today! Help us improve Wikipedia entries related to gender equality with the National Archives and Records Administration. You do not need to have prior experience editing Wikipedia. During the event we will have an introduction to editing Wikipedia and a discussion of World War I Nurses and Red Cross records in the National Archives.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) made history today by releasing the first ever iBook version of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). And while a tome about the complex rules governing the federal government’s purchasing process may not sound like a bestseller, the FAR is essential reading not just for federal contracting officers and federal contractors, but owners of small (and large) businesses, too. “Basically, anyone who does or wants to conduct business with the government reads the FAR,” said Dan Briest, Program Manager of Acquisition.
Here is the outline for our 2016 Open Government Plan. Let us know what you think. We’ve also posted this on GitHub/NASA for your comments: https://github.com/nasa/Open-Gov-Plan-v4. NASA and Open Government NASA is an open government agency based on the founding legislation in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which calls for participation and sharing in the conduct of how we go about the business of expanding the frontiers of knowledge, advancing understanding of the universe, and serving the American public.
****A mule is the hybrid offspring of a male donkey and a horse. This new species is stronger and better equipped than the species from which it comes. Overall, mules tend to be healthier, more sound, and live longer than horses. They are favored over horses in mountainous terrain because the mule has a reputation for being more surefooted than their equine cousins. Finally, mules do not require expensive grains, eat less and don’t tend to overeat as horses do.
The Data Briefing: Harnessing the Internet of Things and Synthetic Data to Provide Better Flood Warnings and Prevent Veterans Suicides
Two significant items in federal government data in the last few weeks: The Department of Commerce releases the National Water Model. The National Water Model provides a comprehensive model of river flows so local communities can better prepare for possible flooding events. What is especially amazing about the National Water Model is that it pulls data from over 8,000 stream gauges. Stream gauges are automated measuring stations that measure water flow, height, surface runoff, and other hydrological data.
Suddenly, digital video is everywhereon your social timelines. As a government storyteller, you may be overwhelmed about all the tools available and all of the features each publishing platform has to offer. Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat all offer great video platforms that are free and easy to use, plus they make it easy for you to market to your social followers on those respective platforms. When most people think of Google, they often think of the search engine, but Google also has been on the forefront of creating media and research tools, metric suites and content presentation platforms for years.
September is National Preparedness Month. FEMA’s Ready.gov is encouraging everyone to plan how they would stay safe and communicate during disasters that can affect their communities. Additionally, Ready.gov is encouraging full participation in America’s PrepareAthon! and the national day of action, National PrepareAthon! Day, which culminates National Preparedness Month on September 30. These days, you probably use social media to update your audience on what you are doing, share an interesting article or two, and catch up on the day’s news.
Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino, Jr., Director, Office of Network Services, ITS/FAS/GSA. He is responsible for a portfolio of telecommunication acquisition solutions that provide government agencies the ability to meet their diverse set of telecommunication requirements. Acquisition solutions include Networx, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions – EIS (the future replacement for Networx), SATCOM, Enterprise Mobility, Connections II, Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative – Wireless (FSSI-W), and the Federal Relay Service.
The wildly popular, augmented reality game we reported on for Trends on Tuesday a few weeks ago and the focus of a piece about government agencies using it to engage citizens appears to have hit a ceiling and is slowly losing active fans in August according to a recent report in Bloomberg. While the mobile game may be losing audience, from a brand perspective Nintendo’s Pokemon franchise was reinvigorated for a new generation of fans which will pay dividends in the future.
The Data Briefing: Microservices and Serverless Apps — A New Direction for Federal Government Mobile Apps?
Continuing from last week’s column on DevOps and containers, I will explain two other hot trends in IT — microservices and serverless apps. For those who want official federal government guidance, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a draft special publication on microservices, application containers, and system virtual machines (PDF, 660 kb, 12 pages, February 2016). I wrote about microservices and containers in February 2015 as two API* trends to watch.
The Pew Research Center released a report in July that shows people of Latino descent are heavily reliant on mobile phones for their Internet access, more than other ethnicities. The report said that since 2012, the percentage of Hispanic adults who used mobile devices to access the Internet jumped from 76% to 94% in 2015. These percentages are higher than both white and African American usage in the same years.
Widgets, Mobile Apps, and SMS: Essential Agency Tools for Summer Heat Safety, Hurricane Season, and Emergency Preparedness
According to recent Pew Research Center surveys, 45 percent of American adults have tablets and 68 percent have smartphones. While the majority of smartphone owners use their mobile devices to keep up with breaking news and stay informed about what is happening in their communities, nearly half, 40 percent, also reported using their smartphones to look up government services or information. As is the case each summer, most of the U.
****Content can be categorized in many ways. While breaking down your website analytics, pay a bit of extra attention to the difference between your short- and long-form content; you may find some interesting discoveries. Let’s first define the two terms: Short – Content that is generally created quickly, and consumed just as fast; e.g., tweets, status updates, short blogs and articles (350 words or less). Long – In-depth content designed to give a large amount of detail and info; e.
“Smart City” is an emerging term to describe how a community – large or small – uses connected technology and/or other data sets to influence and improve the delivery of services to the private and public sectors. By integrating data and connectivity into their daily operations, communities can automate many functions to create efficiencies and maximize their resources. These were just some of the many concepts discussed last week at the Smart Cities Innovation Summit in Austin, Texas, which brought together leaders from over 200 cities and towns to share information about how to best leverage state-of-the-art data solutions for the benefit of their communities.
While you are outside hunting Pokemon or helping your children hunt Pokemon, consider adding another mobile app to your smartphone or tablet. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mobile app alerts you about severe weather and other natural disasters. The app is also a great information resource on surviving disasters and connects you to FEMA for immediate assistance. A feature you won’t find in many other apps is the ability for users to crowdsource photos of disaster areas to help first responders.
Summary: The Administration announces new wireless research efforts that will improve testing and research of advanced wireless technologies. Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Edison. George Washington Carver. Samuel Morse. America is a nation of inventors, and invention has spurred American growth since its inception, to the benefit of all Americans. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkEG8KLvaAc&w=600] That same spirit of invention continues today, and this Administration has worked tirelessly over the past seven years to promote pro-innovation policies to help the U.
The debate between responsive websites and mobile apps took a decisive turn this week when the United Kingdom’s Digital Service (UKDS) banned the creation of mobile apps. In an interview with GovInsider, the founder of UKDS, Ben Terrett, explained that mobile apps were too expensive to build and maintain. Responsive websites were easier to build and updating the application only requires changing one platform. “For government services that we were providing, the web is a far far better way… and still works on mobile,” Terrett said.
“… I have never seen so many people of all ages walking around our civic spaces and small businesses interacting as I have this morning. Teens catching them. People catching them in line for coffee. Moms outsmarting their kids. Local youths teaching my toddler how to throw a ball. Full grown adults. Marines. Kids on scooters. Kids on bikes. 20-somethings walking in packs. How are other small towns faring? Awesome to be outside right now building a community over something so silly and fun.
Augmented Reality games have existed for years, but have mostly failed to catch a mainstream audience; Pokémon Go just changed all that this weekend. The game that launched early this month has exploded in popularity and is close to surpassing Twitter in daily active users, according to Forbes’ Jason Evangelho. “The data gets even more staggering. As of 48 hours ago, Pokémon GO was installed on 5.6% of all Android devices in the United States, and is installed on more Android phones than Tinder (insert “Pokémon is now more popular than sex” joke here),” he cited.
User-Generated Content (UGC) is a buzzword as of late, popularized recently due to the ever increasing demand for new content. To define the phrase, let’s look to a shining example of it,Wikipedia, as a source, “any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats,tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements, and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites.
Tech giants have changed the world of broadcast forever. In a little more than a year, video on Facebook went from being a seldomly seen media type on a user’s timeline to a strategic priority for Mark Zuckerberg. The platform now serves over 8 billion video views a day and Facebook continues to roll out improvements to Facebook Live, a tool that lets any Facebook user easily broadcast from their mobile phone.
Technology is bringing the world closer together – from connecting people across the country instantly by live video chats to tapping into the insights of data analytics. This is the type of power that FirstNet aims to bring to the public safety community through the nationwide public safety broadband network. FirstNet is working to ensure the deployment of a network for public safety use that will give first responders priority in emergency situations to send voice or text messages, images, video, and location information in real time.
International telecommunications network operator, Ericsson, released their Mobility Report around the future of mobile recently with a bunch of interesting data around the future of telecommunications and mobile. The surprise star of the report is not mobile phones though—although it will continue to grow, especially in emerging markets where it hasn’t reached saturation like it has in the U.S.—it’s the Internet Of Things (IoT), which is projected to surpass mobile phones by 2018 according to Ericsson.
****Gray Brooks of GSA gave us a great definition of APIs in the DigitalGov University (DGU) presentation, Introduction to APIs. He described APIs as “Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, are web services that allow people to more easily consume content and data in multiple ways—via mobile devices, mobile apps, innovative mash-ups, and much more.” Simply put, “APIs are a better way to get government information and services into the hands of the people who need them.
We’re thrilled to announce the Space Apps 2016 Global Award Winners!! These projects well represent the best of the best innovative thinking this year. Congratulations to all the teams. We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming NASA launch in Florida. Best Use of Data: Scintilla, created at the Space Apps Pasadena, California main stage event, mitigates the impact of poor air quality in the global community by democratizing air quality data collection.
Internet strategist Mary Meeker delivered her 2016 Internet Trends report this month, and there are several key takeaways for government agencies to consider and continue tracking as our connected world continues to evolve: Mobile phone adoption and Internet growth is meeting saturation. Incremental global growth will continue (especially in India, which she called out for their wild expansion) but especially for Americans, most people that want to be on the Internet can be on the Internet.
Today, I am happy to announce the newly optimized DHS.gov website. Over the past year, DHS has worked behind the scenes to update and modernize our flagship website, making it faster and easier to use. Some of the specific differences you’ll see are: Compatibility for both desktop computers and mobile devices (phones and tablets) Cleaner, easier-to-read site format and presentation Faster and more accurate site navigation using our internal search function and external search engines (like Google and Bing) DHS.
Last week, Recode published an articlefocused on a recent report from industry consultant Chetan Sharma that found the largest number of new mobile activations in the first quarter of 2016 came from a ‘different’ kind of mobile tool—cars. There are still a lot of phone and tablet mobile activations happening—31% and 23% of all activations, respectively—but for the first time, cars edged out the smaller mobile devices with 32% of new cellular activations.
Summary: The 2016 National Preparedness Report is an important guidepost in our work to build a stronger, more resilient America. Today we released the 2016 National Preparedness Report, an important guidepost in our work to build a stronger, more resilient America. The findings of this year’s report are significant. This vital information is analyzed to gauge the progress that community partners—including all levels of government, private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, communities, and individuals—are making to prepare for a wide array of threats and hazards.
Flurry Analytics, a mobile application analytics company owned by Yahoo!, released a new report about app retention. Unless your app usage is around “gambling”—with cards (game apps), with your money (finance apps), with whether or not to bring an umbrella (weather apps), or with your health (fitness apps)—user retention and re-engagement is often a steep wall to climb. The research shows that top trends across Android and Apple apps are similar, but Android users appear to be a little more choosey when it comes to re-using an app: after 30 days, Android app retention clusters around 10%, compared to 14% for Apple.
What Makes a Native App Successful? There are over 200 native applications in the federal government with various download numbers. Are the ones with the most downloads the most successful? Is the one with fewer users who are more engaged more successful? It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. David Cooper, the Mobile Application Development Lead with the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) and member of the MobileGov Community of Practice, said during a recent DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar, that while vanity metrics such as page views for websites and downloads for apps make you feel good, they don’t tell you anything about how users like your app or site.
USAGov recently released a list of six great federal government mobile apps. There were many apps released by the federal government over the last 5-6 years on a wide range of topics and services. Many are well-designed and useful to the American public. So, what are the outstanding federal government apps for 2016? The Department of State’s Smart Traveler. First launched in 2011, this mobile app helps international travelers find U.
Summary: Improving the way you engage with the White House through our online petitions platform In July 2015, we announced a big change in the way we would answer petitions on We the People. We committed to responding to you within a 60-day timeframe, whenever possible. We assembled a team of people dedicated to getting your policy questions and requests to the right people so you get the most informed response.
ComScore released a report with a lot of great data about how mobile digital media usage continues to explode in 2016. It has 70 pages of charts and information to digest. Here are seven key mobile trends and takeaways: Smartphones are exponentially driving digital media usage.** ** Digital media has tripled since 2013 and digital media use is being driven heavily by smartphones—up by 78% since 2013.
Last year Google began changing their search ranking algorithm to direct mobile users to mobile-friendly sites, and they recently announced that beginning in May they will be implementing an update to focus even more exclusively on boosting mobile-friendly sites. In the announcement, Google encourages website owners to test their sites using the Mobile-Friendly Test and Webmaster Mobile Guide, to learn how to improve your site for mobile friendliness. Previously we’ve covered how to prepare for “Mobilegeddon” (an industry term for the Google mobile-friendly shift) for government agencies.
A new report about email usage reinforced the importance of always building responsive websites. Yesmail’s quarterly report showed that mobile and desktop email click-to-open rates are converging to almost the same level for the first time ever. As people become more mobile-first and mobile-only users of the Internet, users opening emails on their desktop devices has dropped continuously for the past 2 years, from 22.6% to 15.3%. The report from Yesmail states: “The results certainly support the argument for responsive design,” as those who used responsive design in all of their emails had:
This tax season, it’s not just taxpayers expecting a refund who can take advantage of IRS2Go, the IRS’ mobile app, but now taxpayers who owe money are able to make payments through the app. IRS2Go offered for Amazon, Android and iOS is one of the oldest and arguably most popular government apps with over five million downloads on the Android platform alone. Every year IRS reviews user feedback and decides what new features to add.
The increasing sophistication of mobile devices has created many opportunities for developers. Thanks to APIs* and open data, developers can build thousands of mobile apps and mobile websites to meet users’ needs. This opportunity has created one of the most contentious debates in the mobile development community: mobile apps versus mobile websites? There is, yet, no solution to the debate. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both types of mobile solutions.
Comscore released new data this month about trends in the smartphone space. The data showed that the Android platform grew in market percentage (when combining all Android manufacturers). Android overall grew 1% from September to December at the cost of Apple and Blackberry, which dropped 0.7% and 0.3%, respectively, in smartphone market share. Comscore’s data on the most popular mobile applications showed Facebook and Google properties continue to dominate usage, with the top seven spots owned by the two corporation’s app properties.
We have received an amazing response to the U.S. Digital Registry, our new API-generating repository for official third-party sites, social media platforms and mobile apps in the United States federal government. Federal digital managers have already added over 7,300 accounts and are continuously adding and updating social media and mobile app accounts in the registry. Outside of government, private and public sector organizations have been submitting feedback and offering praise.
Need to get in touch with your audience? Give them a little push. Push notifications allow agencies to connect with their audiences for immediate communication. The Office of Personnel Management’s OPM Alert app provides a real time look at the current operating status for federal offices in the Washington, DC, area and uses push technology to alert users of status changes. While the most well-known use of the OPM Alert is for weather closings, the app can be used to alert users of other events: for example, the app was used to announce the lapse in federal appropriations in 2013 and the resulting office closures (and the later re-opening).
How do you reach audiences with important health information and leave users asking for more? Is it enough to create responsive websites written in plain language or to design apps with health tips optimized for handheld devices? While those ideas are a step in the right direction, we do not live in a world where, “if you build it, they will come.” With a slew of devices and an ever-increasing array of information sources, the most desired commodity in today’s crowd communication channels is attention.
John Connor can’t save you. Robots are here to take over the world. Two interesting new consumer mobile and digital content experiences were launched in the past week, signaling some of the first mainstream brands embracing this new paradigm of interactive, bot-driven content experiences: Quartz’s News App and The New York Times Election Slack Bot. Both leverage different scripted technology but signal that large consumer-facing brands are using messaging technology as an experience and interface for interacting and sending and receiving information smartly.
It’s not a secret that mobile Internet viewership is booming, but according to a ComScore report released last June, 49% of the audiences for the top 100 digital properties are now mobile-only. Additionally, during the third quarter last year, Gartner reported PC shipments fell 7.7% while IDC Research reported a 10.8% decline. The switch to mobile will continue, and for government websites, the trend is no different. For this reason, it’s important to optimize your mobile experience.
Google Product Director and author, Luke Wroblewski, wrote a piece about how perfecting your Day 1 experience for users is critical because retention after that point is incredibly difficult. Wroblewski said that 25% of native mobile apps are abandoned after their first use and that the number of active users drops 77% in the first three days after installation. To combat that drop off, he suggested focusing on your onboarding and the user’s first experience with the app through things like gradual sign-ups, since many people will turn off completely when they hit that wall.
No one wants to feel helpless in an emergency situation. To provide tips and assistance anytime, anywhere, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stepped up their mobile game. FEMA developed an SMS service and an app to engage with users while they’re on the go. The app is available on Android, Apple and Blackberry. While the SMS service is limited to alerts and searches for nearby shelters, the app offers additional functionality, including the Disaster Reporter crowdsourcing feature.
It’s Saturday night: Do you know what your mobile app is doing? Securing your mobile device is hard (no matter what day of the week). And there are numerous threats that can be posed by the apps on your device: an app could be spying on you, stealing your money, stealing data or reconfiguring the settings on your device. Security and privacy are part of the six Mobile User Experience Guidelines developed by the MobileGov Community of Practice.
__Phablets, once mocked for their large size, may be the next big form factor dominating mobile devices, if new data from the holiday season is any indication. Flurry Mobile, part of Yahoo’s mobile analytics division, published two reports about phablet devices at the beginning of the new year, showing their continued growth and that people use them more than traditional or smaller mobile devices. The percentage of new phablet-sized phone activations during the 2014-2015 holiday period more than doubled to 27% from 13%.
With January, and the tearing off of the old calendar, comes the annual taking stock of where we’ve been in the last year and where we can go in the year ahead. So for this month’s editorial theme, we’re taking a closer look at what we think 2016 will bring for digital government—from mobile and content, to open data and accessibility. If our “prognosticators” are correct, this year will be the year when apps become more Web-like; video could overtake social media as the preferred method to communicate; and the number of sensors providing real-time access to (government) data will dramatically increase…just to name a few.
As we move into 2016, here are 10 trends I foresee flourishing around mobile, technology and government: The mobile-majority tipping point in government. Many agencies are already past this point, but as a whole, government websites are still desktop-majority, with 66% of people accessing federal websites via desktop and 34% on mobile. In 2016, the double-digit mobile growth will continue to accelerate and surpass 50% for almost all agencies. (Much of the Web passed this point last year or in 2014, btw).
The Pew Research Center released an interesting report about home Internet usage that revealed broadband usage plateaued in 2013 and, in fact, dropped 3% in 2015. Later in the report, Pew states the growth in mobile-only audiences compensated for the drop in home broadband usage, so the overall number of people with Internet access hasn’t changed significantly. While 100% home broadband penetration may never be attainable for a number of reasons, Pew’s research found cost is the major reason for most people, cited by 43% of non-broadband users.
In the sea of apps, users get choosey with which apps can take up space on their phone. With one uninstall click the user can decide to breakup with the app if they have a bad experience. To keep your app from being all alone, the MobileGov Community of Practice put together six Mobile User Experience Guidelines to help keep mobile users in love. DigitalGov University hosted a webinar in which the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) highlighted two of these guidelines.
Agencies have used an open data competition approach in their quest to provide anytime, anywhere government. For example, in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted the Apps for the Environment challenge and has a hub for apps created using EPA data. Here’s an update on challenges hosted by other agencies: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), hosted a nationwide Reference Data Challenge to create mobile apps through Devpost.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum just released a new educational mobile app, Mobile Missions. From the website: “Find out if you are cut out for a career in aerospace with our free mobile app, Mobile Missions. Take our quiz to discover the best aerospace career for you. Explore objects from our collection related to your chosen profession. Answer challenge questions to receive in-app badges and rewards. Document your journey by inserting your selfie into a historical image related to your aerospace career and share with friends.
Let the mic drop! Mobile moments are created with the expectation that an app can stun the crowd. Do not let your audience down; they may never come back. Federal Student Aid (FSA), in an effort to provide better customer service, decided to build a mobile-responsive website. Kaegy Pabulos, a Borrower Experience Specialist and project manager for StudentAid.gov, described this as a challenge because of the need to combine over 12 different websites into one access center.
U.S. shoppers are increasingly using their mobile devices to make purchases during the busiest shopping days: Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend. According to Custora, online Black Friday sales rose more than 16% compared to last year, and smartphone use rose to more than 36% (up from 30% last year), with iPhones accounting for the lion’s share of purchases: 77.6%, compared to 22.1% for Android. The Apple iOS purchase dominance was cited by other reports too.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds;… …wondering when Santa was coming? “Let’s check!” they all said; So they pulled out their smartphones and tracked Santa’s flight, and played the app’s games ’til close to midnight.
Half a decade since Steve Jobs declared war on Adobe Flash and refused to support it on Apple’s mobile and tablet devices, Flash is finally losing its crown as one of the stand-alone products of Adobe. In the announcement, Adobe said, “Flash has played a leading role in bringing new capabilities to the Web. From audio and animation, to interactivity and video, Flash has helped push the Web forward.
Geological phenomena such as steaming mud craters, bubbling mud pools, hot springs and geysers are some of the exhilarating features of a geo-thermal wonderland. Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park falls into this category. If you are planning a visit to Yellowstone, you can download the National Park Service (NPS)’s NPS Yellowstone Geysers free mobile app from iTunes for iOS and Google Play for Android devices. The app is simple to use with a straightforward menu structure.
How do you capture millennial and Hispanic eyes? Through their hands. (More specifically: their mobile devices, and the social apps within!). AdAge recently analyzed a study from Nielsen’s Homescan panel which found that in a typical month, 12.2% of millennials can only be reached through TV (looking at the top 10 networks only) versus 14.2% who can only be reached on Facebook. The numbers are similar for U.S. Hispanics: 16.
Mobile users of government websites are growing in double digit percentages and will likely soon become the majority. For some recent internal project research, I dove into some of the federal government-wide analytics looking at mobile usage and found a few interesting tidbits to share: It’s an OS battle of the As. Apple devices slightly edge out Android as the most popular with 49.24% to 44.88% of the audience. There’s no realistic third contender.
Have you ever taken your prescription to the pharmacy, the one that you fill regularly, and the pharmacist hands you pills that have a different name and look quite different from what you regularly get? As a chemist by training, I try to curb my initial anxiety by checking out the composition. However, I have always looked for reassurance from the pharmacist that he/she has dispensed an equivalent generic drug at the direction of my doctor.
GSA unveiled a refreshed GSA.gov website yesterday with a more crisp design layout, improved usability, and features geared more toward mobile users. Increasingly, website traffic is coming from mobile users. With this in mind, GSA unveiled a newly refreshed GSA.gov website on Nov. 16. “Our ultimate goal for the refresh was to continue our work to get important government information into the hands of users–no matter how or where they’re accessing the information,” said Sarah Bryant, Director of GSA’s Enterprise Web Management Team within the Office of Communications and Marketing.
Pew released a recent report tracking trends in digital device ownership and found smartphones and tablets have continued to grow in recent years, while other devices have stalled. The big headlines from the report are: Cell phones are now in the hands of more than 92% of U.S. adults, although this trend started to flatten over the past 3 years. That elusive final 8% of U.S. adults might take a while to adopt (or die off, as adults over 65 were the smallest percentage of smartphone users at just 30% of that population, while 78% of them have a cell phone of some sort).
Gone are the days when you have to drive miles on a hot and humid afternoon or a cold wintry morning to your local post office to mail your letters, get your stamps or determine how much postage you will need for that package. Technology has become integral to our lives, and now many of these familiar postal services are available at our fingertips on our mobile devices. Categorized under business, the USPS Mobile® app services customers’ postal needs.
Josh Clark, one of the pioneers of touch Web design, and author of Tapworthy and Designing for Touch, published an excellent article on A List Apart analyzing How We Hold Our Gadgetsthat has a wealth of data and graphics about this interesting and emerging design challenge. Below are 5 notable lessons from the post: 1. Portrait (vertical) orientation dominates over landscape (horizontal) usage with a 60-40 split. This is often driven by the app or content experience and will probably continue to grow more divided as many applications now aren’t even offering landscape orientations anymore—including Facebook, Flipboard, Instagram, Pandora, even Netflix (on Android, however, along with video playback, Netflix’s library browsing mode can still be viewed horizontally).
A recent DigitalGov webinar on syndicated content and the recent achievements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped open my eyes even wider to the possibilities of open and structured content. By offering critical health information via syndication, CDC and other Department of Health and Human Services agencies are helping resource-strapped local agencies share critical Web content with very little effort. APIs and Syndication Structured content and APIs form the core of any open content platform, whether it be syndication or other types of data sharing.
“My Disability is One Part of Who I Am” was the theme of the 70th National Disability Employment Awareness Month this past October. We celebrated the many contributions of our friends and co-workers with disabilities and recognized the diverse skills and talents they bring to our workplace. However, the real question is: how do we create a comfortable work environment that provides equal access and growth opportunities for all? The Department of Defense’s Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) created a free app that is available for download at the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
An industry group tracking the growth and production of the “Internet of Things,” a term given to Internet-connected devices and accessories, is predicting that growth will slow over the next 6 months, but then surge 3 times as fast, over the following year. The research was organized by the IoT M2M Council, which is made up of 140 executives in the Internet of Things space. MediaPost described it as “the calm before the IoT storm.
The night air is cool and crisp, the autumn leaves are falling, your costume is ready, jack-o-lanterns carved, lights dimmed, candy in the basket—what else do you need to make “All Hallows’ Eve trick or treat” complete? Some eerie music, a spine tingling, blood curdling horror movie? No, no—those are for yesteryears! This Halloween, let’s make the skeletons in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History come alive. Let’s try and capture that vampire bat skeleton that pulls itself off the mount to run away, or watch the horror of an extinct Steller’s sea cow materialize in the flesh.
Have you worked with an employee with a disability? Are you an employee with a disability? Then, you know the unique challenges of the average workplace that able-bodied colleagues may never experience. Workplace challenges could be overcome with accommodations such as larger computer monitor displays, wheelchair-accessible office furniture or a voice reader. In some cases, a mobile app is a solution to a workplace challenge. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
ComScore released a new 2015 U.S. Mobile App report tracking native mobile app usage among adults over 18 years old, and it reinforced a lot of the trends we’ve been reporting on DigitalGov. Quartz succinctly summarized the reportwith the headline: “You really only use three apps on your phone.” The report clearly pointed out that Americans spend 50% of their time in their most-used app, and 78% in their top three favorite apps.
There are several things federal agencies need to think about in the mobile space. Is my website responsive, so that consumers can view it on any device (desktop/laptop, tablet, smartphone)? Do I have mobile apps that fill citizen needs? But does texting have a place in the U.S. government, as we strive to serve citizens where THEY are? Here are at least 9 factors you need to consider, according to GovDelivery, and Forrester analysts Art Schoeller and Thomas Husson:
What is mobile-friendly? Mobile-friendly simply means your visitors can use phones and tablets to visit your website and have a user-friendly experience. Many of us get toward the end of mobile site development and really do not know if what we created is “mobile-friendly.” We think we have followed all of the mobile best practices and performed usability testing. However, do we have something concrete to quantitatively certify that we are mobile-friendly?
I have to admit my knowledge of slugs and snails was limited to the familiar, slimy creatures in my garden that ate holes in leaves, flowers, vegetables—almost anything, really—and left silvery traces behind. The Terrestrial Mollusc Key mobile app from the Department of Agriculture was a revelation. The app, specifically designed to assist in the identification of adult terrestrial slugs and snails of agricultural importance, includes 33 families and 128 species.
A review of the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) data confirms what many are already saying: Content is being viewed on mobile devices more than ever before, and the percentage of sessions via mobile devices is growing. Three things are evident when looking at the breakdown of sessions on federal government websites across device types over the last three years: Percentage of tablet sessions stayed about the same (~7%) Share of sessions via desktop (includes laptop) dropped significantly (from 80% to 66%) Share of sessions via mobile devices (not including tablet) more than doubled (from 13% to 27%) Within the last year, we saw the combined mobile and tablet percentage exceed one-third of all sessions.
DigitalGov’s theme this month is mobile moments, which explores the impact of mobile applications in the federal government. For this post, I am examining the more than 300 mobile apps created by the federal government. An updated list of federal mobile apps is on USA.gov. According to the list, 73 federal organizations have released mobile apps on a wide variety of topics. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has the most mobile apps with 31 releases.
The New York Times recently published a report evaluating the cost of mobile ads on news websites and found that on many of the major sites, the ads were taking as much bandwidth and time as the content (if not more, in some cases). This comes after the recent hubub over Apple starting to allow ad blockers on their mobile operating system to cut down on aggressive, high-bandwidth consuming ads, analytics, and tracking software that slows down the mobile experience for users.
INTERPOL Washington—What is it? It’s a movie. It’s the latest spy novel…No, it’s a mobile app from INTERPOL Washington, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice. INTERPOL Washington, the United States National Central Bureau, serves as the designated representative to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) on behalf of the Attorney General. INTERPOL Washington is the official U.S. point of contact in INTERPOL’s worldwide, police-to-police communications and criminal intelligence network.
NASA recently announced the winners of a smartwatch app interface competition. A Canadian duo won the design competition, and NASA’s plan is to build the app with 2016 funding to have it available for astronauts to use when they are aboard the International Space Station. This is the first government smartwatch app development we’ve talked about on DigitalGov and an example of a great mobile moment use case. Not only is the smart app interesting (see the UI images!
Went a little too far with a bad habit? Do you or someone you love have difficulty putting down the cancer sticks? The National Cancer Institute has developed a triple threat to help kick this issue for good with an app, responsively-designed website and SMS program to help lead the way to a healthier life! The quitSTART app is free and available to everyone, though tailored to teens.
Someone has a problem they are trying to solve. They pull out their mobile device and find a solution. They move onto something else. That’s a mobile moment. Organizations are living and dying by their mobile moments, and a few government agencies are winning theirs. We’ve written before how the Transportation Security Administration is winning their “What Can I Bring…” moment at airports while taxpayers are engaing around the IRS2Go “Where’s My Refund?
Move over, 60 inch widescreens—for the first time ever, U.S. consumers are spending more time in mobile apps than on TV. An article from Flurry Insights, the blog for Yahoo’s mobile analytics service, covered the recent viewing trends. Apps are now the top media channel in the United States: on average, people spend 198 minutes on mobile apps every day, while spending only 168 minutes watching TV. The article noted that the 198 minutes spent on apps does not include time spent on a mobile browser: with that time added, users spend 220 minutes on mobile devices every day (a little more than 3.
A penny saved is a penny earned. But spending your pennies on mobile development is necessary to meet 21st century needs. Regardless of how you plan to create that awesome anytime, anywhere mobile experience, it’s going to cost you. While the most obvious parts of the mobile price tag for native app development are initial development and launch, the long term maintenance of the app must also be considered.
In our personal lives, most of us barely pay attention to Terms of Service (TOS) agreements. But in our professional lives, as federal employees, mindlessly clicking through a TOS is not an option. The DigitalGov article Getting to Yes: Working with Vendors to Secure Terms of Service and Federal Friendly Pricing explored the legal dilemmas that arise when negotiating TOS agreements for government use of tools, and how federal employees can communicate the benefits of federal-friendly agreements to businesses.
Believe it or not, even a couple years ago, I was using pen and paper to record and track the hours I worked. It was definitely a chore, reconciling work hours with leave, overtime and any number of other entries, week after week. However, in these times of mobile apps for almost anything, several products are available to capture and track time. While this category is quite crowded, the U.
Yahoo’s mobile analytics service, Flurry, released a new and provocative report about mobile apps versus mobile browser usage, in which they found audiences are spending almost an hour more with their mobile phones than last year. They also discussed the importance of how “content is king” in mobile apps. The top mobile app categories included mobile messaging/social applications, entertainment, and games, which is nothing new; these continue to reign as the most popular among users as repeat research from different sources continues to prove this.
Our children spend a lot of time at school. Multiple studies have shown a direct correlation between the learning environment and student behavior. Poorly maintained school facilities with run-down buildings, broken windows, etc., lead to disorderly conduct in students, affect their ability to concentrate and learn, affect teachers, pose health risks, and reduce overall community satisfaction. One environmental factor that can affect the performance and health of students and staff alike is indoor air quality (IAQ).
Every second counts, even those precious two or three seconds it takes your website to load. When it comes to mobile, users won’t wait. During a recent DigitalGov University webinar, Jeremy Vanderlan, Technical Deputy for AIDS.gov, explained how even fractions of a second can have a negative impact on a user’s impression of your website. Performance/load time for Web pages has become so important that Google now considers it one of three equal components to good user experience, along with design and functionality, he noted.
Benedict Evans, a leading mobile analyst with the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, published a provocative post last week about the death of the mobile Internet. He details the history of the mobile Web and posits that the mobile Internet is the Internet now. The desktop version of the Internet audience is smaller and declining, so organizations should focus resources on developing the mobile-optimized version first.
A long time ago in a federal agency building far, far away on F Street… the Great Federal Mobile Product Hunt launched at the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit in Washington, DC. The campaign goal has not waivered from the initial launch because the USA.gov Mobile Apps Directory remains incomplete. The Directory is the authoritative source for federal mobile Web products, and federal agencies that do not have their apps registered here are losing out on valuable promotional opportunities on USA.
Google has announced a second wave of ‘Mobilegeddon’ search penalties for websites using mobile app install interstitials. Beginning November 1st, mobile app Web pages that use large app install interstitials to hide content from the users will be downgraded in search results for not being mobile-friendly. These are the kind of pop-ups you get when you land on a website for the first time and it immediately prompts you to install their app before you see or experience any content A smarter strategy for this kind of prompt would be to set a tracking cookie and only prompt users that have come back multiple times to the website or base the prompt on a longer period of time or number of pageviews into a visit before you prompt users—not before they even get to see the website.
Whether it’s the 800-year-old legacy of the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution or the more recent Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, all of these documents are powerful symbols of citizens’ rights and freedom. They articulate the most important rights granted to the citizens of a country, and each has its own history. The Center for Legislative Archives, part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), houses the official records of the U.
On DigitalGov, we frequently talk about some of the most popular app experiences, and research almost always shows that mobile messaging and social apps are the most frequently used. Pew Research released a new report specifically about these wildly popular channels for mobile engagement, specifically focused on how youth use them, with some interesting results that government agencies should pay attention to for their digital strategies. The report author, Maeve Duggan, said, “The results in this report reflect the noteworthy and rapid emergence of different kinds of communications tools serving different social needs.
With 14 test cycles under our belt, the Federal CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program has heard one recurring theme from our testers—”there’s too much information!” While both desktop monitor and smartphone screen sizes are growing, there is still no comparison. At our desks, many of us are using a 24 inch (or even bigger) monitor. How big is your smart phone? Way smaller than a desktop monitor. The user will have a radically different experience on a desktop, and they are usually expecting a different experience.
We all know it is virtually impossible to prevent natural phenomena such as hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis etc., and we cannot easily avoid these inevitable geological and climatic incidences, as they are typically unpredictable and occur swiftly. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) report, released in March 2015, states that economic losses from disasters are now reaching an average of $250 billion to $300 billion, annually.
This August, Aaron Gustafson, Web Standards Advocate at Microsoft, industry thought leader and speaker, and an author who wrote a leading book on adaptive web design, spoke to the government tech community at the U.S. General Services Administration and provided many magnificent insights into mobile strategy, design and tech development for reaching the widest audience possible across devices. Gustafson’s insights are especially important and impactful for government agencies because he focuses on the full-gamut of technologies audiences use—not just the latest mobile phones, OSes and apps—so his work and perspective can help inform government agencies on how to grapple with the technology needs of very diverse constituencies.
The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) released three new mobile apps this summer to honor fallen veterans in overseas cemeteries in Belgium, France and Italy. Information about Flanders Field, Meuse-Argonneand Sicily-RomeAmerican Cemeteries are all now accessible via mobile apps for both Android and iOS. ABMC developed these apps in line with their strategy of “providing an inspirational and educational visitor experience through effective outreach and interpretive programs.” Visitors to the cemeteries overseas are able to download these apps prior to travel or via WiFi in the visitor centers.
Yahoo’s mobile analytics division, Flurry, released an interesting report, in July, comparing mobile usage among three distinct types of users around the world based on how frequently they launch mobile applications each day: Regular Users, Super Users and Mobile Addicts. According to Flurry, of the 1.855 billion total mobile app users in the world: 985 million people or 53% are Regular Users 590 million people or 32% are Super Users 280 million people or 15% are Mobile Addicts Each of these categories grew at least 26%, or more, compared to 2014, with Mobile Addicts’ growth exploding to 59% in a year-over-year comparison.
In most instances, your hardware and software are developed independently but are expected to function properly together. For example, when a Web application is developed in HTML, it is expected to function properly on an Apple computer using Safari as well as a Windows computer using Internet Explorer. This sounds simple, but there are thousands of combinations of browser types and versions as well as operating systems, and the number of combinations increases exponentially as we add in the multitude of mobile device makes and models.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wants YOU to help them build native apps. NIST launched the Reference Data Challenge to improve the way the agency shares scientific reference data. They want third party developers from around the country to build native apps that aggregate and improve the usability of free NIST datasets and resources. They are offering $45,000 in prize money and are taking submissions until the end of September.
Adobe released its quarterly Adobe Digital Index report this month, which showed websites that aren’t mobile optimized are seeing more than double-digit drops in traffic from Google’s organic search referrals. This is after the leading search engine announced it would start penalizing websites, after April 21st, that weren’t optimized for mobile—also called “Mobilegeddon.” Microsoft’s Bing search engine also made a similar announcement, indicating that mobile-optimized sites would receive special benefits in its search results.
The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is helping to put hunger on vacation this summer with their Summer Meal Site Finder, a Web and mobile tool that will provide the location of summer meal sites to ensure low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals while school is out. Having this information in a mobile format is key considering that lower income families are more likely to be mobile only.
David Morell, a software engineer with Google, posted an interesting case study from the tech giant, sharing data about how users interacted with interstitials (ie webpages displayed before or after an expected content page) on their website. Their analysis showed that 69% of users completely abandoned the page and their original intent after being shown an interstitial. Interstitials take many forms on the Web—native app installation prompts, advertisements, survey opt-in requests (popular on some government sites), email sign-up forms, etc.
Government agencies need to make sure their mobile websites and native apps don’t become one of the estimated billions of applications that end up in the app graveyard. The need for digital products to work better is not new in the federal government. Resources like the Digital Playbook and Public Participation Playbook have had impact helping agencies become user-friendly and both of these resources note the importance of developing usable products for mobile users.
Having experienced everything from little tremors to violent shaking, I know what it is like to live in an earthquake zone. Hiding below a large table or under the sturdy doorframe, and at times with the entire building swaying back and forth—it can be quite frightening and confusing at the same time. Your thoughts are flying at 200 miles an hour, flitting from one to the next, concerned about your and your family’s safety.
In July, comScore released a research paper, The Global Mobile Report: How Multi-Platform Audiences & Engagement Compare in the U.S., Canada, UK and Beyond, covering a lot of areas from smartphone penetration to Android vs. Apple preferences. The most impactful trend for government agencies might be best communicated through this graphic: In the U.S., tablets and smartphones are driving the majority of digital media usage for 18-to 54-year-olds. People 55 and older are on the cusp of breaking the 50% barrier for mobile and tablet usage.
We continue our celebration of American history and legacy this July 2015 with the New Horizons spacecraft’s dramatic flight past the icy dwarf planet Pluto and its moons—momentous in space exploration. Just think about it—New Horizons, a NASA space probe traveled over 3 billion miles to the ninth and final planet, making America the first and only country that has sent space probes to every planet that makes up our solar system.
England’s Government Digital Service (similar to our own U.S. Digital Services and 18F) did a study of how content on their websites is consumed on mobile and non-mobile devices and learned several key points for a future-focused and mobile-friendly government organization: Mobile platforms account for the lion’s share of most of their content (see their graphic above), so being mobile-first and at least mobile-optimized is mandatory. More intense, complex tasks are still frequently started on desktops, but young and less affluent users expect to be able to do them on their smartphone.
Ahhh… Summer is here at last! It’s time for relaxing vacation! Whether you want to scale the peaks of Mount Everest, scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, ride a camel in the deserts of Mongolia, or shop in Paris—it is time for a travel app. Gone are the days of just booking cheap flights and accommodations. Now there are travel apps for just about anything—planning, packing, pet care, parking, expense tracking, currency conversion, language translation and even optimal light and dark times to help minimize jet lags.
Millennial Media released a new research report, Connected Consumers: Gaining Insights Across Screens, examining U.S. digital audiences from January 2014 until January 2015 with some interesting information that reinforces trends we’ve covered before. If your users fall into these demographics, you need to mobilize the content they’re accessing on mobile devices. Mobile and Tablet Devices Account for Majority of Time If your audience is predominantly under 55 years old, you must be mobile-friendly because more than 60% of that audience’s digital consumption time is spent on mobile and tablet devices.
All content needs to be developed with a mobile-first strategy, from headline choice to paragraph length. Although we are all now living in a post-mobilegeddon world, many of us are still implementing a mobile strategy. This strategy should consider several factors, including viewport size, cellular versus WiFi considerations, and load times. It should also include a review of existing content and a rethinking of new content, down to what I will call the “cellular” level (no pun intended).
The Great Federal Mobile Product Hunt is off to the races in both English and Spanish with David Cooper in the lead at 12 #lostapps from the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, Department of Veterans Affairs in a close second with 10, and Elizabeth Perez of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration rounding out the leaderboard at Day 50. Thanks to all who have contributed in locating or updating the Directory including SAMSHA, Broadcasting Board of Governors, United States Coast Guard, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Small Business Administration.
A Content Management System (CMS) allows people to easily publish, maintain and update information online. Choosing a CMS (or deciding whether you need one at all) is one that many agencies have faced. It’s not an easy choice because there are many solutions available to content managers. As government agencies, the majority of content we deliver is for a large audience, the public. Therefore, your CMS should be a tool that will allow you to quickly and easily share information with the public.
Summer is here, which means it is time for the biggest holiday of the summer—Fourth of July! Independence Day is a happy time of year: BBQs, picnics, pools, sunshine and fireworks. Of course, the foundation of our celebration is American history, and there are plenty of excellent federal apps focused on this area. The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains 25 overseas military cemeteries that honor the service and sacrifices of U.
Mobile. It’s here, and it’s here to stay! Agencies in all areas of government meet real world needs through mobile products. Creating effective mobile products requires planning, however. Agencies who have created native apps outlined three areas they considered in the mobile development process: strategy, business requirements and measuring value. Strategy Before creating a mobile product, you must analyze how it will fit into your agency’s strategy. Not only is this information essential in justifying the need for mobile, it also will help quantify the application’s value when you examine mobile metrics.
Analytics company, Localytics, released a new report about mobile app retention rates from the past 4 years that agencies should heed when considering their needs for building native mobile apps, compared to mobile-friendly websites. In the U.S. the number of users that re-engage more than once after installing is pretty low, with 19% of American users abandoning after just one use. The number of “regular” users who have opened the app more than 10 times is also low—42% in 2015, but that is trending upward from 41% in 2014 and 35% in 2013.
Technology has opened new pathways for delivering health care, including mental health services. The National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), part of the Department of Defense, offers multiple apps that address health care for service members in a variety of ways. At a talk with the MobileGov Community of Practice earlier this year, Dr. David Cooper, a psychologist for T2, said the apps are a way to provide services and make appointments more effective and efficient for patients.
Federal agencies do not get a free pass on accessibility for mobile—as we stated earlier this month, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act applies to ALL information and communication technology (ICT). Luckily, there are a number of organizations working on guidelines and practices to help the private and public sectors create accessible mobile websites and applications. The M-Enabling Conference, an annual event dedicated to making mobile technology accessible, brought experts from around the world to talk about guidelines and practices for these efforts.
The rise in mobile device usage has created a rise in expectations: the public wants new and innovative interactions with all organizations, including government. Incorporating social media in mobile websites and native apps is one way federal agencies have increased public interaction. Six agencies have leveraged native app functionality for crowdsourcing purposes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) leads the way with three public-facing applications that transform ordinary citizens into citizen scientists: Dolphin and Whale 911, Release Mako and CrowdMag.
The more you test, the more you know. We recently highlighted lessons learned from the CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program, discussed the mobile emulator dilemma that many agencies face, and today we’re back with a few insights on native app testing. The Federal CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program yields a rich set of participant feedback that helps individual app creators improve their product. While the program primarily tests mobile websites created by federal agencies, the team tested early prototypes of the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Normandy App and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s CrowdMag app as a pilot.
Disasters can strike at anytime, and responders now have another tool in their repertoire to aid survivors. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed the Behavioral Health Disaster Response Mobile App to assist mental health responders with pre-deployment and on-the ground information and resources. SAMHSA has placed their key resource materials in this handy to use app so that responders do not need to keep track of multiple pamphlets and fact sheets.
Government agencies have created a variety of apps to meet the needs of the public. As you join in on the mobile first trend and begin developing your shiny new mobile application, you will need to test it. There are a basic set of questions that must be answered: Does it function properly? Does it function properly on the different mobile devices your customers are using? Do all developers and testers need a collection of devices to physically test the application with?
Silicon Valley analyst Mary Meeker’s annual 2015 Internet Trends report has been released and is an exhaustive analysis of the world’s digital evolution (often mobile first driven) and how it is affecting business, culture and information. Previous years’ reports have tracked emerging tech from mobile to 3D printing, and this year is no different. Here are some of the key highlights from the report for government agencies and mobile-focused people:
Just in time for the summer season, the U.S. Coast Guard launched a brand new app to give smartphone users easy, on-demand access to critical boating safety information and resources. With this new app, called United States Coast Guard, users can ensure they have proper equipment, check the weather, file a float plan, and so much more. The app also features an emergency assistance button, which calls the closest Coast Guard command center if the phone’s location services are enabled.
Mobile device penetration is growing, with larger screens providing more real-estate for content and users completing more complex tasks over longer periods of engagement. However, the new wave of digital screens on watches and wearables is requiring organizations to consider how to build smaller, faster and simpler interfaces to prepare for “glanceable moments.” Ted Schadler from Forrester Research provided the following explanation: “here’s a rule of thumb: people will stare at a desktop screen for 3 minutes.
Mobile-friendliness is a must for government. But mobilizing the whole digital enchilada takes time due to various challenges, as experiences from the Department of Education and National Park Service have illustrated. Many agencies are thinking big things for 2015, but if your agency is struggling with that first mobile implementation, you will be asking yourself where to start. Think mobile moments! The mobile moments concept has been popularized by Forrester analysts Julie Ask and Ted Schadler.
Armed with a smartphone instead of a badge, ordinary Americans are helping law enforcement officers capture child predators. After exhausting all investigative leads, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents turn to the public for help to locate fugitive child predators through the Operation Predator smartphone app and social media outreach. And it’s working. Since Operation Predator launched for iPhones in September 2013 and Android devices in Oct 2014, the app has assisted in 6 arrests on charges related to child exploitation.
In April, comScore released new mobile data, and it pointed to the continuing growth of smartphones as the dominant mobile platform, especially in the United States, with almost a 77% smartphone penetration. Android and Apple continue to dominate the operating system market share with 52.8% and 41.7%, respectively. The report said that “186.3 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (76.6% mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in February, up 5% since November.
Mobile-friendliness is a must for government. We know there are a number of agencies who have mobile-friendly digital products that we don’t know about, and they deserve their day in the sun. We need your help to find them. So today, at the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit you will find the MobileGov Community of Practice Expo Table, where we are kicking off the Great Federal Mobile Product Hunt. The mission of the hunt is simple—find the mobile apps or websites not listed on the registry.
The drum beat of the continuing and quick cultural shift to mobile device dominance continues to grow—Google announced that more searches take place on mobile devices than desktops in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan. These searches are often driven by ‘need-to-know’ information or utility-based actions (rather than entertainment or more passive consumption), which aligns with a lot of the information and resources government agencies provide on their digital properties.
BusinessUSA is a centralized, one-stop platform to make it easy for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire. And with the release of a brand new smartphone app for Android and iOS devices, BusinessUSA is fully functional no matter whether you visit by desktop, tablet or smartphone. The BusinessUSA smartphone app consolidates a wide-ranging amount of business information and resources from across the U.S. federal government. The tools in the app are created to help small businesses, as well as more established businesses, navigate regulatory hurdles and gain revenue in a global economy.
Consumers are buying less tablets and more phablets, especially in the U.S. Three recent research reports released in the past week from IDC, Flurry and Kantar each point to a shift in consumer purchasing habits over the past quarter, showing that consumers are reducing the number of tablet devices purchased with an increase in “phablet” or large 5-inch sized phones increasing. “Phablets claimed 21% of all U.S. smartphone sales in Q1 2015 – nearly quadrupling their 6% share from the first quarter of 2014,” Katar WorldPanel’s report cites.
Spoiler Alert: Every year, billions of pounds of good food go to waste in the U.S. because Americans are not sure if the food is spoiled. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that retailers and consumers waste 36 pounds of food per person each month. The USDA’s FoodKeeper app helps Americans avoid this problem by offering users valuable storage advice about more than 400 food and beverage items, including various types of baby food, dairy products and eggs, meat, poultry, produce, seafood, and more.
Before coming to DC in late 2008, I lived in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is in the Ohio Valley Region, which meteorologists euphemistically call “weather-rich.” With spring came the beautiful flowers and the Kentucky Derby. Spring also brought flooding, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and windstorms. This is why I had several emergency weather radios that also doubled as flashlights and cell phone chargers. I also have several emergency information apps on my smartphone.
Just a week after the ‘Mobilegeddon’ shift in Google search engine rankings to favor mobile-friendly sites, comScore released a research report citing that the U.S. had reached a new inflection point—there are now more mobile-only Internet users than desktop-only. What’s even more interesting is the drop desktop-only usage has taken over the past one-year period. comScore sites: Just a year ago, there was still nearly twice the percentage of desktop-only internet users (19.
Smartphones make up 75% of the mobile market—which makes mobile-friendliness a must for government agencies. With the recent update to Google’s search algorithm, or what some are calling Mobilegeddon, the case for building a mobile-friendly site becomes even stronger. For many government organizations, responsive Web design (RWD) has been the answer to their mobile question. While RWD is by no means a panacea, it can provide agencies with a way to reach their customers on many devices with one site.
Park websites on NPS.gov from A (Acadia) to Z (Zion) are now mobile-friendly. Visitors using phones and tablets to visit national park websites now have a user-friendly experience to enhance their virtual visits. Previously, visitors using mobile devices saw a smaller version of the website scaled to fit the size of their screen. Now, the content will adjust to fit small screens while providing the same functionality available to those visiting the site using a desktop or laptop.
Mobile apps meet real world needs. App development is not a homogenous process, however. Apple and Android devices are overwhelmingly dominant in device ownership and app development. So, we examined the Federal Mobile Apps Directory for iOS and Android offerings. We noticed a predominance of iOS applications: 170 apps were available on iOS, while only 93 were available on Android. So, we wondered: what makes federal app development iOS-centric?
We’re switching our style up this week in salute to our military friends across the Department of Defense. Faithful readers of DigitalGov know that each Thursday we profile an awesome app from the USA.gov Federal Mobile Apps Directory. This week we’re getting familiar with the DoD Mobile Apps Gallery to highlight some of the great apps available for servicemembers and the general public. First up is a collection of apps from the Air Force, since they’re first on this alphabetical list.
I recently found an app that provides a great service through crowdsourcing. Be My Eyes connects visually-impaired people with volunteers. Using the smartphone’s camera, the volunteers can perform tasks such as reading an expiration date or helping someone navigate unfamiliar surroundings. This is not a federal app, but I wanted to highlight it to demonstrate how crowdsourcing apps can make it easy for everyone to make a difference through microtasks.
SMS messages are an excellent way to reach audiences. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) saw SMS messages as an opportunity to reach the public for the implementation of their Mobile Health Behavioral Intervention Programs. NCI has 15 SMS based programs, including HealthyYouTxt, a program designed to help users live a healthier lifestyle, and SmokeFreeTxt, a program designed to help users quit smoking. In this piece, we will talk specifically about the domestic version of the SmokeFreeTxt program, one of their most popular programs.
Much is being said and written about the coming Mobilegeddon/Mopocalypse on April 21st—the day Google’s ranking algorithm will begin boosting results for mobile-friendly sites and penalizing mobile-unfriendly sites. While some agency websites are mobile-friendly, a great many are not. We will do well to pay attention—almost 25% of traffic on government websites is coming from mobile devices. And if responding to the UX needs of 25% of site visitors is not enough argument, perhaps the Google algorithm update will convince agencies that it’s time to upgrade.
Mobile video is starting to hit its second wave for both consumption and creation, and government agencies can prepare now to ride this new channel for mobile and social engagement. Fueled by mobile bandwidth and cellular stability steadily increasing and consumers’ comfort with larger mobile devices fueling more video watching on mobile, a plethora of social apps now allow you to live stream and watch on mobile devices.
iPlover is a new app from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for data collection about habitats on coastal beaches and the environment surrounding them. That sounds like a really difficult and important task, but luckily for us, the app is designed for trained and vetted professionals. It is an example of another federal crowdsourcing app, but for experts. The app is actually intended for use by USGS officials and partners and will not function without an approved log-in.
The Pew Research Center released a deep research dive into “U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015” that provided three big ideas and data points for government agencies to consider when planning their digital strategies. More than 2/3 of Americans have smartphones; many of those are mobile first or mobile only Internet users. The report detailed that 6 in 10 Americans own a smartphone (64%), and 2 in 10 Americans now access the Internet primarily through their mobile phone (25%).
When the Employment and Training Administration’s CareerOneStop team embarked on a redesign of the site’s online career, training, and job resources, they didn’t dive right into the technical work. Instead, they embraced a user-centered approach that focused on the user experience (UX). Focusing on UX means taking a step back to learn about users’ core needs and preferences. The team asked real users several questions about the site.
ComScore reported last week that smartphones now make up a whopping 75% of the mobile market. That’s up from 65% just one year ago. This means three-quarters of Americans over the age of 13 now have smartphones, and they are accessing government services with them more and more. This is an undeniable fact because earlier this month the White House announced the Digital Analytics Dashboard. The announcement noted the importance of mobile-friendliness, stating that the Dashboard showed 33% of all traffic to federal sites over a 90-day period came from people using phones and tablets.
The new app from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration called “QCMobile” empowers U.S. motorists to make safety their highest priority on the roadways this spring. This is a continued theme in DOT’s mobile strategy, as they have also recently released the SaferRide app. QCMobile (QC stands for “Query Central”) is a free download for anyone interested in reviewing the DOT registration and safety performance information of motor carriers.
Metadata for website content is usually managed as part of the editorial process when documents are created and published with content management systems. There may be another source for this metadata, especially in regulatory agencies: internal databases that reference Web content in support of record keeping processes. These databases may contain public and non-public information that were never meant to be published for public consumption. “Metadata” is not typically how the content is described.
Metadata, tagging, content modeling … they’re not identical concepts, but they’re driven by the same basic principle: when you structure your digital information, it can be more easily searched, reused, connected, shared, and analyzed. If you’re new to structured content, where should you start? Ideally, your metadata strategy will be part of your overall content strategy. In practice, however, a lot depends on your agency’s culture, its technical resources, its existing practices, and the state of your content.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new “DrugShortages” app gives the public access to important—and sometimes critical—drug shortage information easier and faster than ever before. Drugs in short supply can delay or deny needed care for patients. Shortages may also lead health care professionals to rely on alternative drug products, which may be less effective or associated with higher risks than the drug in shortage. The app uses a searchable database to provide real-time information to key stakeholders, including health care practitioners and pharmacists.
Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile infrastructure, software, hardware, product and app show, took place in Barcelona, Spain, and I attended for the fifth time. This year’s show shattered previous records with more than 93,000 attendees across all the areas that mobile touches. Here are a few notable trends and topics that I came away with and what government agencies should learn from them: Phone Sizes One notable trend (or slowing of an explosive trend) was the size of mobile devices seems to have stabilized—for now.
One of the leading mobile app analytics companies, Flurry, released their annual mobile app growth report with some interesting data showing how audiences are changing the way they engage with mobile applications. Overall, mobile app usage grew 76% in 2014, and the top app categories included: “Lifestyle & Shopping,” growing 174%; “Utilities & Productivity,” growing 121%; “Messaging & Social,” growing 89%; and “Health & Fitness” and “Travel” categories, both growing 89% year over year.
We have not forgotten, we will never forget, the debt of infinite gratitude that we have contracted with those who gave everything for our freedom. Rene Coty, Président de la République Francaise Those are the words of Rene Coty, the president of France from 1954 to 1959, inscribed in the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center in France. The Normandy American Cemetery is one of the 25 permanent American military cemeteries in foreign countries that the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) maintains to honor the service, achievements and sacrifices of U.
As the use of smartphones continues to grow, it has become even more important for websites to be mobile-friendly. Google has been aware of this trend for quite some time. In response to this trend, Google made it a lot simpler for users to see mobile-friendly websites within search results by the use of a mobile-friendly tag back in November. In order to assist the anytime, anywhere user, Google will begin ranking mobile-friendly sites higher in search results in April.
Scoping the fed scene for the best match to apply your very formidable skillset? Use your smartphone to cast a wider net on your job search with help from the USA.gov Federal Mobile Apps Directory. Federal job hunters are no longer confined to desktop websites, so check out some of the great mobile job search apps and websites listed in the USA.gov directory. If you get hired through one of these apps, my commission is a reasonable 15 percent.
Practice makes perfect. But in the mobile world, it’s testing that makes products better. For federal agencies that have developed their own apps or mobile-friendly sites, the CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program offers a simple way to collect feedback on compatibility testing. Since the program’s inception in March 2013, eight federal mobile websites (including responsive design) have been tested by 65 federal employees from 41 agencies. The benefits are twofold: agencies receive actionable feedback about their mobile websites, and testers gain valuable knowledge about mobile websites that they can share with their own agencies.
The digital equivalent of a cool rag and a spoonful of Pepto Bismol, the Internal Revenue Service updated their IRS2Go app to provide multi-symptom relief for tax anxiety this year. IRS2Go lets taxpayers check on the status of their tax refund and obtain helpful tax information. If you’re e-filing, you can check your refund status within about 24 hours after the IRS confirms receipt of your tax return. If you’re filing paper tax returns, it takes about four weeks to check your refund status due to longer processing times.
Mobile user habits are a moving target, and designers have to adjust accordingly. Creative Bloq offers their Top 5 Trends in App Design for 2015 gathered from trends in changing hardware, increasing popularity of apps and the increasingly personal nature of mobile devices. Bigger Screen Sizes. As we noted in last week’s Trends on Tuesday post, the smartphone sales increase in 2014 was partially due to the growing numbers of “phablet-sized” smartphones.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are website redesigns. In line with the piecemeal responsive Web design implementation trend we recently highlighted, the new Ed.gov website redesign happened in three phases. In this case, budget limitations and existing content management systems (CMSs) influenced the decision-making process. “We use three different CMSs,” said Jill James, Web director at the Department of Education. “We timed the phases of our redesigns with technical upgrades that we needed to do anyway.
Smartphone adoption rate continues to rise, but the screen sizes users adopt continue to evolve. According to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 375.2 million units during the fourth quarter of 2014. IDC states that this was an increase of more than 25%, compared to the fourth quarter in 2013. For the full year, IDC says the worldwide smartphone market saw a total of 1.
For those of us who need to get our diet under control—and keep it that way—we surely have noticed the recent explosion of health apps and wearable fitness trackers. No doubt we’ve all thought about buying one of those at $100 to $150 bucks a pop even if we didn’t know for sure exactly what it did. My personal two-week obsession in wristband form came in sporty neon orange and provided me plenty of numbers to keep me busy making sense of it all.
Don’t forget, mobile first strategy can include text messaging and SMS, not just native apps and responsive Web design. Ninety percent of all SMS messages are read within three minutes of being received, according to a recent blog post on Gigaom. Paired with an average open rate of 98% (versus 22% for email) and the fact that any mobile device out there is able to read a text message, SMS is a great way to reach out to pretty much anyone.
Citizen scientists, stand up! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) improve the accuracy of magnetic navigation by tracking changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. All you need is your smartphone, loaded with NOAA’s awesome CrowdMag app. In this era of GPS and other geospatial technologies, why is this mission important? It’s because technologies like GPS have limitations.
Innovative wearables, stronger wifi and more 3D printing have been among the many projections for the future of mobile in 2015. Whatever comes to pass, we can be certain that the anytime, anywhere user will develop new habits and desires based on new trends. Government must accelerate its customer service approach with anytime, anywhere efforts to keep up. Here’s what I see agencies will have to do to keep up and–just maybe get ahead–in 2015.
Marketers are increasingly using SMS, push notifications, mobile apps, location-based functionality and other mobile-first techniques to reach constituents. That’s according to a recent article from Marketingland.com, which provided an overview of the mobile trends presented in Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing Report. The report was based on a survey of 5,000 marketers in 10 countries. Some notable survey results were: More than one-quarter of marketers have a mobile app (27%).
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently unveiled a new mobile app to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home. The ‘SaferRide’ mobile app, gives holiday revelers an easy way to find a ride home when they’ve had too much to drink instead of getting behind the wheel. The app encourages potential drunk drivers to stay off of the road by helping them contact a close friend, find their location, and connect directly to a taxi company to secure a safe ride.
One death every 52 minutes. That’s how frequently someone died in crashes involving a drunk driver in the U.S. in 2013—10,076 deaths in total. While that number represents a 2.5% reduction in deaths from the previous year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering a new mobile app—called SaferRide—to save more lives. Simply put, SaferRide helps people who have been drinking to get a safe ride home.
In mobile app development, if you aren’t making it multilingual, you miss providing anytime, anywhere information and services to important mobile-only audiences. Regular DigitalGov readers know that we’ve touched on Hispanic mobile trends before, including the high rates of mobile usage among Hispanic millennials. Today, we’re highlighting five Spanish language apps from the Spanish Version of the USA.gov Federal Mobile Apps Directory hosted by Gobierno.USA.gov, Aplicaciones Móviles. Multilingual app development is one way federal agencies meet the diverse needs of the U.
Approximately 18% of websites have implemented Responsive Web Design, according to the audit of websites Guy Podjarny completed in November. That’s more than 7% growth since his previous audit in January 2014. That number may seem low with the popularity of Responsive Web Design and the preference of mobile websites from users, but implementing responsive Web design is not as easy at it seems. In a report last year, Forrester found that “few organizations have the budget or risk appetite to ‘responsify’ all of their Web assets in one fell swoop.
In January on DigitalGov, we’ll highlight pieces looking at trends we see coming in the digital government space in 2015 and beyond. We have lined up articles around: Customer Service Data 3D Printing at NIH and NASA Accessibility Mobile, and Training. Check back Monday, when we kick-off the month with 15 Government Customer Service Trends. And you can look at some of our most recent monthly theme articles in: crowdsourcing, user experience, and mobile.
The new Border Wait Time app from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a one stop shop for cross border travelers, displaying estimated wait times and open lane statuses at U.S. land ports of entry. Travelers can also locate ports of entry closest to their location, and then map the best route to the crossing of their choice. For example, the app allows travelers in the Buffalo, New York, area to compare wait times at the Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge and Lewiston Queenston Bridge and will then direct them to whichever crossing they chose.
Phablets, the popular term for smartphones with screen sizes from 5.5 to less than 7 inches, increased in popularity this holiday season. According to Flurry, 13% of new device activations in December were phablets, jumping from 4% in 2013. Back in October, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted that “phablets” would outship tablets in 2015. Flurry backs up the IDC report finding that the holiday growth in phablet adoption came at the expense of both full-size and small tablets, whose activation percentages dropped to 11%.
As we round out 2014, we’re reflecting on the exciting year we’ve had at DigitalGov since we launched in February. Our mission is to share information and resources from agencies across the federal government that are working in the digital space, and highlight the services and communities that can help you meet your digital government goals. We look forward to bringing you more great content in 2015, but first we wanted to highlight the most popular articles on DigitalGov this year.
QR codes, apps about whales, bullying and railroad crossings, challenges of responsive Web design and mobilizing charts and tables were the things you were most interested in this year. We publish mobile trends every Tuesday and feature a government mobile app every Thursday on the mobile channel of DigitalGov. In addition, we do recaps of MobileGov Community of Practice events and other community articles in between. This year we published 281 articles.
NORAD’s Santa Tracker is available for download again! Here are five things I learned from the magical NORAD Tracks Santa app to keep my nieces, nephews and neighborhood children entertained this holiday season, even if I don’t remember how many of them I should buy presents for: Santa’s big night out usually starts in the South Pacific, covers New Zealand and Australia, shoots up to Japan, over to Asia, across to Africa, then onto Western Europe, Canada, the U.
Mobile devices allow the public to interact with government in new and game-changing ways and users expect those interactions. As a result, many agencies are taking advantage of native apps for crowdsourcing projects. The White House Open Government Initiative recently defined crowdsourcing “as a process in which individuals or organizations submit an open call for voluntary contributions from a large group of unknown individuals (“the crowd”)…” In addition, they highlighted some native applications like the Federal Communications Commission Speed Test App and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mPing as good practices in mobile crowdsourcing.
Have a potential future cadet in the family? Deciding whether the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program is right for you? Already in the program? Study up on the Army ROTC program before you or someone you know steps foot in the classroom in a crisp uniform. Download the ROTC Handbook from the U.S. Army Cadet Command to help learn this new culture—acronyms, Army-isms and all. This app serves a wide audience, including those who are looking to join the program, current cadets and anyone who is interested in cadet life.
In December of 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the first Policies for Federal Public Websites. Over the past decade, we’ve seen technology completely transform how government delivers information and services to the public. On this 10-year anniversary, we’re taking a walk down memory lane to recap some of the pivotal moments that have shaped today’s digital government landscape. Year Activity 2004 February—Facebook launches (for colleges; opens to the public 2007) March—Interagency Committee on Government Information (ICGI) convenes to draft Web recommendations June—ICGI issues Recommendations for Federal Web Policies July—ICGI becomes the Web Content Management Working Group (predecessor to Federal Web Managers Council) August—HHS publishes its seminal Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines (foundation for Usability.
Smartphones are changing how organizations do business—they are more than just smart Web browsers. As I noted last week, purchases from mobile phones have dramatically increased during the holiday shopping season. The infographic from IfByPhone demonstrates how people are using their smartphones not only to buy things and research products, but also to open emails and access social media. Users also still call organizations on the go. 87% of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices to shop.
In May 2015, we’re hosting the second DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. This round we are looking to you—federal innovators across government—to help build the agenda. We want to get you the information you need, ignite discussion, foster sharing, build capacity, even get you to challenge and debate each other in the name of delivering better digital services. So, we’ve set up a crowdsourcing platform where you can suggest presentation ideas and vote for your favorites.
Government mobile code developed to help make tables mobile-friendly in one agency has now been used in another agency’s mobile efforts. Last month, Clair Koroma told DigitalGov readers about code that the Department of Health and Human Services had developed to make website tables mobile-friendly and then HHS shared it on the Mobile Code Sharing Catalog. Debra Fiorrito from the Defense Financial Accounting Service and her developer, Todd Posius, have implemented the code on the DFAS.
We are in the middle of the holidays, and that means much driving to visit friends and relatives. I was just in Kentucky this past weekend where I spent a total of eight hours driving. I am sure many of you will spend even more time driving in the next three weeks. So, where do you find the best gas prices and how can you maximize your vehicle’s fuel mileage?
Were you surfing the pre-Black Friday online sales while waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey to appear on the table? Turns out, you weren’t alone. “Online sales for Thanksgiving 2014 grew 12.2%, with mobile sales accounting for 74% of that traffic,” according to Mobile Marketing Watch. To put that in context, mobile sales grew 26.1% percent over 2013. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Cyber Monday, mobile is playing an ever increasing role in holiday shopping.
Who to call? Where to meet? What to pack? How to find fuel? Make sure your personal disaster preparedness plan includes how to quickly find functioning gas stations in your area with help from the Department of Energy’s Lantern Live app. The app crowdsources the ability to find fuel during an emergency through user-generated status reports of local gas stations. It also allows users to check for power outages in the area, and includes useful tips and guidelines for emergency situations.
It has finally happened: Mobile has bumped TV as America’s first screen. Recent analysis from Flurry Analytics, which included data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that time spent on mobile devices grew in the U.S. by 9.3% to 2 hrs and 57 minutes, while time spent watching TV has remained flat at 2 hrs and 48 minutes daily. So what are some of the factors that helped mobile snatch the big prize from television?
Are you like me? Do you consistently eat too much on Thanksgiving to avoid invasive family conversations that have a high probability of 1) turning awkward and 2) forcing you to abandon a sworn blood oath to never again reveal details of your private life to loved ones? Don’t be like me. It’s your holiday, too, and there’s no need to sit quietly at the table with a full belly and sweating.
What’s the weather like? When does the next movie start? What time does Target close? These are just a few questions that I may ask my phone on any given day. According to a recent Mobile Voice Study led by Google, I’m not the only having conversations with my phone. 55% of teens aged 13-18 use voice search every day, while 56% of adults said using voice search makes them feel tech-savvy.
Wanna join the global climate change conversation? Arm yourself with real-time facts about Earth’s vital signs from NASA’s Earth Now mobile app. Earth Now is an app that visualizes recent global climate data, including surface air temperature, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and water vapor, as well as gravity and sea level variations. This app not only shows you the current vital signs of the planet, but also explains why each vital sign is important to monitor, and how changes to these signs affect the climate.
In the mobile world, every second matters. Mobile users are a finicky bunch. They want their information anytime, anywhere and quickly. As members of the MobileGov Community of Practice have noted last year, mobile user experience is about emotion. If that emotion is not happy, you will lose the user. For this month’s DigitalGov user experience theme, we decided to talk about how speed can be a key to a user’s happiness.
Catching child predators? There’s an app for that, and it’s expanding its reach to Android smartphones. Operation Predator—the first U.S. federal law enforcement app designed to seek the public’s help with identifying and locating fugitive and unknown suspected child predators—is now available for both Android and iOS-based smartphones, and also features built-in Spanish language support. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched the initial Operation Predator for Apple products in September 2013.
Several federal agencies and offices have worked together to create a free and easy way for public health partners to incorporate our Web content, images, video, data, and infographics into other sites, apps, and social media. Through digital media syndication, the science-based resources of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) can be combined with your ongoing activities at the state and local levels, and can help coordinate health messaging for maximum impact and reach.
You don’t need to be a rail buff to want to download the Federal Railroad Administration Rail Crossing Locator app. Parents, outdoor enthusiasts, emergency responders, school officials, motorists and many others will find value in locating area highway-rail crossings. The aim of the app is public safety and the Department of Transportation (DOT) recently added an Android version of the app. The Rail Crossing Locator app uses your current location to display nearby points on a map where a railway line crosses a road or path, as opposed to when a railway line crosses over or under a road via a bridge or tunnel.
Data.gov has 130,000+ datasets (as of November 3, 2014) many of which are designed for application developers. In previous columns, I’ve showcased some of the great applications built using federal APIs. Have you wondered where the idea for an app came from? Some developers start with an idea and then look for the API that best fits the idea. For example, a developer may want to create an app that alerts users of unsafe bus or limousine companies.
Is it a phone or is it a tablet? The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that “phablets,” the popular term for smartphones with screen sizes from 5.5 to less than 7 inches, will outship portable PCs this year and tablets in 2015. Specifically, total phablet volume will top 318 million units, surpassing the 233 million tablets forecast to ship in 2015. Further, IDC expects phablets to grow from 14.0% of the worldwide smartphone market in 2014 to 32.
Today, refilling your medicine cabinet with bandages and over the counter medicine from your local drugstore may seem like a trivial task, but for Peace Corps volunteers working in remote villages around the world, this task can be much more challenging. As we take steps to forge a 21st century Peace Corps, such as dramatically reducing the time it takes to complete a volunteer application from eight hours to less than one hour, we are also looking into ways to tap the ingenuity of volunteer developers to support our Peace Corps volunteers abroad.
No Mobile Gov Month on DigitalGov would be complete without an update on the Internet of Things. Regardless if you’re talking wearables, smart homes, sensors or any other connected device, your current mobile approaches will be impacted—as will your social media, user experience and data strategies. When we last visited the topic in April, discussion in the federal government was minimal. That’s no longer the case. Just this month there were multiple panels about it at the Tech-In-State: Mobile Diplomacy event and the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) was very active at the 2nd Annual Internet of Things Global Summit where FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez gave a keynote about challenges around IOT.
This year, we moved HHS.gov to a responsive template to ensure that users accessing our site in a mobile environment had the best possible experience. Our department faced several challenges in moving a site the size of HHS.gov into a responsive template and one of those challenges surrounded our need to make tables work in a responsive environment. Because of the nature of the information our department provides to the public, our use of tables is an integral part of how we communicate information.
Thanks to the power of open data and APIs, federal agencies can now register their mobile native apps and websites on the Federal Mobile Products Registry and have them appear on the USA.gov Federal Mobile Apps Directory (formerly USA.gov Apps Gallery) almost immediately. When we launched the USA.gov Apps Gallery in 2010 there were less than 15 apps. To register an app, an agency would contact us with app info, download screenshots and create a “page” for that app.
Making tables, charts and graphs mobile friendly is like squeezing 10 pounds of sugar into a 5 pound bag. Mobile Gov Community of Practice member Debra Fiorrito from the Defense Accounting and Financing Service recently highlighted this challenge in her responsive Web design implementation. The challenge also came up during a call with the Federal Mobile Crowdsource Testing Program when discussing photo carousels. David Fern, from the Social Security Administration, Clair Koroma, from the Department of Health and Human Services, and Beth Martin, from the Federal Aviation Administration, researched the topic to see what current approaches there are and found eight ways organizations are making charts and graphs mobile friendly.
People consume government information in a variety of ways: through agency websites, of course, but increasingly through social media, search engines, and mobile apps, whether developed by agencies or third parties. To make sure the information is available seamlessly, accurately, and consistently from one setting to another, more and more agencies are exploring the use of content models. Content models create a structure to tag content in a standardized way and free it from any single format or destination, such as a Web page or PDF file.
On September 6, 2013 at 11:27 p.m., EDT., viewers tuned in through the Internet to watch NASA launch its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft. As viewers logged onto the website, something unusual happened. For the first time, metrics indicated that NASA.gov’s mobile users outpaced their desktop users. 93 percent of their viewers were watching the launch from a mobile device. At the time, NASA Web managers were already considering changing their website.
A website redesign is never an easy task, but when responsiveness is one of your redesign’s key goals, special considerations come into play that can present unique challenges. In the September webinar on Responsive Web Design Challenges in Government, we heard from two agencies who identified coordination, leadership buy-in and content decisions when mobilizing their websites. Marissa Newhall, acting director of the Office of Digital Strategy and Communications at the Department of Energy (DOE), shared the reasons for going responsive with the energy.
What’s your mobile itch? A long time ago at a workshop not so far away…we asked the 40 federal government innovators who had released native apps this question. We wanted to know their biggest barriers, challenges, frustrations to building anytime, anywhere government. Their generosity in telling us those pain points informed 2011’s Making Mobile Gov Project, which identified 10 challenges to implementing mobile apps and responsive websites for public audiences in the federal government.
Want to know where the food you’re eating was produced? Here’s a handy trick before you head out to the grocery store: Download the Meat, Poultry & Egg Product Inspection Directory (MPI Directory) app produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. All containers of meat, poultry and egg products must be labeled with a USDA mark of inspection and establishment number, which is assigned to the plant where the product was produced.
It’s time for a mobile pop quiz. How well do you know consumers and the time they spend on mobile apps? ComScore recently released the U.S. Mobile App Report which sheds light on how Americans use mobile apps. Test your knowledge with the five questions and answers below: Who is spending the most time in mobile apps? Millennials (18 to 34 year olds) spend more than 73 hours a month on mobile apps.
I don’t remember being bullied as a kid, but my younger sister once was. When she was in junior high, a jealous schoolmate who ran in a small tough pack threatened to “beat up” my quiet, mild-mannered sibling at an unspecified time and day during her walk home from school. Sound familiar? Back then (in an era before text messaging and bullying awareness), a well-placed phone call to a high school football player friend of mine who knew said bully made that problem go away.
Recently, I was designing new outreach materials and needed a way to connect this offline collateral with my agency’s digital content. Using a QR (or Quick Response) code immediately came to mind, followed by the question, “Are QR codes still relevant?” Opinions differ on their utility and I couldn’t find any objective data on how often they were scanned by users. Even their inventor has doubts about their shelf life.
Congress.gov ushered in the new fiscal year by removing the beta label from its URL two years after it launched. During this period, the Library of Congress not only extensively tested how the site would display on any device, but in a series of releases and enhancements, completely transformed the ability to find legislative information as the successor to THOMAS. With Congress.gov you can now find information via: A resources section with an A-Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress An improved Advanced Search capability with 30 new fields available to construct increasingly detailed and intricate searches that you can then save.
U.S. Hispanics are ahead of the digital curve, according to an analysis of strategies of leading brands and forward-thinking marketers by Lisa Gevelber, Vice President of Americas Marketing. As we’ve noted before, Hispanics not only lead in adoption of new devices, they are also power users of mobile. The report highlights a few categories supporting Gevelber’s observations: The average Hispanic spends more than eight hours watching online video each month, over 90 minutes longer than the U.
Saving the whales just got easier for West Coasters with the latest version of the popular Whale Alert app. This free “feel-good” iPhone/iPad app, developed by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and a long list of partners, now enables users on both U.S. coasts to submit reports of whale sightings in real-time that could ultimately alert boaters and vessel captains to slow down and avoid colliding with these majestic creatures.
Remember the Golden Age of Web development? A time long ago when there were only five desktop browsers to support, a few different screen sizes and every user connected via broadband? Well, those days are over. With the advent of mobile Web implementations like responsive Web design, there are three times the number of browsers working on many different-sized devices with varying operating systems and connection speeds. Trying to tackle all of these factors quickly becomes a testing nightmare.
The Centers for Disease Control has added another tool to its suite of mobile applications for healthcare providers and clinicians. The “Prevent Group B Strep” app provides specific, timely guidance to obstetric and neonatal providers to aid in the prevention of perinatal Group B Strep disease. The app’s simple interface delivers, through a series of yes/no questions, recommendations based on programmed algorithms underlying the current guidelines. With this app, healthcare providers and clinicians can:
Sign up now to join fellow MobileGov Community of Practice members for Tech@State’s Mobile Diplomacy conference on Friday, October 3, 2014! Your attendance will let you participate in a variety of panels, ignite and breakout sessions about mobile development relevant to all digital government innovators. Members of the Mobile Gov Community of Practice from the U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Labor, Department of Defense and other agencies will be presenting on panels like “Mobile First: Design & User Experience” and “Best Practices in the U.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) is forecasting a strong outlook for smartphone sales during the remaining months of 2014. They predict more than 1.25 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide before the end of the year. Just 24 hours after going on sale last Friday, the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus broke prior Apple presale records with 4 million units purchased. Reading these stats I couldn’t help but ask, “Are we at a mobile tipping point?
If there was one thing we learned on September 11, 2001, it’s that you can never be too prepared for a disaster of any magnitude. September is aptly named** National Preparedness Month** and the government’s #PrepareAthon campaign—led by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)—is under way, culminating in National PrepareAthon! Day, September 30. What better way to show your patriotism this Patriot Day than to commit to be prepared should a disaster should strike your community.
Roughly 1 in 9 (11%) websites have adopted responsive Web design, according to research conducted by Guy Podjarny in January. While the number has risen in the last 7 months, I know you’re probably a little underwhelmed by that number. But if you are one of the agencies that have gone through the process of developing a responsive site, you are aware of the challenges that can often get in the way of progress.
Imagine open source code, publicly available to share, that jump starts your agency’s mobile development efforts. Pretty neat idea, huh? Well last year it became a reality with the Mobile Code Catalog. This idea was the brainchild of Mike Pulsifer, who, as the Technical Manager for the Division of Enterprise Communications, Office of Public Affairs, at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), is responsible for developing and publishing the DOL website and mobile applications.
Those cutting edge folks over at Census have raised the bar again! Not only do they have three mobile apps that use their own APIs, but now everyone who visits Census.gov is presented with an overlay promoting America’s Economy, Census PoPQuiz, and dwellr. Clicking on the overlay takes you straight to their mobile products page. Overlay advertising is just one way to promote your mobile products. Your public affairs office is key to ensure you promote to social media and other channels that will alert your users and relevant communities.
Most of us in the DigitalGov community recognize that responsive Web design is one approach to mobile first and most of us have a pretty clear picture of what it means—a responsive website will adjust to different devices, and the content will neatly change its layout from one screen size to another. But do you know how it happens? Would you know how to implement responsive Web design in your agency?
We’ve seen (and experienced) a dramatic growth in mobile consumption in recent years. From app downloads to tablet ownership, the use of mobile devices continues to trend up. But, is this at the expense of desktop computer usage? Not really. The growth of mobile activity is incremental to what’s happening on existing platforms, according to comScore. Let’s take a closer look at mobile vs. PC usage over the past year:
Got a thing for dried botanicals? (No, not THOSE … but the stuff of fragrant sachets, decorative wreaths and glass jars filled with heavenly scents?) Before you discard your old potpourri or put some within reach of pets and children, you’ll want to take a look at this new app from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The Dried Botanicals Key app for iOS and Android was designed for professional botanists and plant-enthusiasts alike to quickly identify the variety of dried (scented, bleached or color-dyed) fungi, fruits, seeds and leaves you’re likely to find at your local craft shops and gift stores.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has an enormous collection of aerospace and science data sets. NASA missions and projects can create amazing amounts of data. One example: the Earth Observing System Data and Information System has collected enough information to fill the Library of Congress (Data.NASA.gov). A more recent example: the Solar Dynamics Observatory receives 1.5 terabytes of data a day. As NASA admits, this much information can be overwhelming for agency API development.
First, it was party lines. Then, it was the rotary phone. Now, two-in-five (41%) U.S. households have officially said goodbye to landlines, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Center for Health Statistics. If you have been keeping up with previous mobile trends, you won’t be surprised to learn who has decided to cut the telephone cord: An estimated 39.
The PTSD Coach mobile app from the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides veterans and users with information about PTSD and professional care, along with self-assessment tools and aid in finding support opportunities. The app has been downloaded over 100,000 times in 74 countries around the world, received numerous accolades and has spawned versions in both Australia and Canada. Designed for users that are both in treatment and not, this application is a poster-child for the benefits of user testing and paper prototyping.
Do you ever find yourself conducting unofficial smartphone research? Ever since my agency decided to develop a mobile app, I know I do. Luckily, new data from ComScore on the U.S. smartphone subscriber market share can help eliminate the guesswork. Here are a few of the key trends ComScore found in the U.S. smartphone industry for June 2014: 173 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the second quarter of 2014, up 4% since the previous quarter.
The U.S. Census Bureau today released Census PoP Quiz, a new interactive mobile application that challenges users’ knowledge of demographic facts for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The new app, which draws from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, aims to raise statistical literacy about the U.S. population. Census PoP Quiz provides an introduction to the statistics that define our growing, changing nation and is a great way for everyone to learn facts about all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the nation in a fun, relevant way.
You might recognize them by the user controls, if provided, that allow you to move from one newsy item to the next. They go by various names, including: carousel, slider, slideshow, banner, and gallery. Many government homepages have them. In a recent email exchange on the Web Content Managers listserv, the consensus was carousels met the internal, official need to share information. However, most agreed carousels were a necessary evil, but in general preference, were an annoyance.
As technology changes, government must change with it to address new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. This Administration has made important strides in modernizing government so that it serves its constituents more effectively and efficiently, but we know there is much more to do. Last year, a group of digital and technology experts from the private sector helped us fix HealthCare.gov—a turnaround that enabled millions of Americans to sign up for quality health insurance.
A recent Trends on Tuesday post cautioned against becoming another statistic in the treacherous, desolate wasteland known as the App Graveyard. Thankfully, there is some research that shows the likelihood of your app being banished to its grave is receding. Trends indicate that not only are app retention rates rising, user engagement is increasing. According to data collected by Flurry, the number of times apps are launched per day have increased significantly.
When it comes to Web and software design, the pen(cil) is often mightier than the Design Suite. What I mean is: Tech is cool, but don’t fall under its spell. It’s often when you remove the technological layers between you and your thoughts that the best ideas sprout. You’ve heard of great ideas that started on bar napkins, right? One way that low-tech beats high-tech is when it comes to conceptualizing early-stage design ideas.
As it’s time to return to school, the Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families is helping parents and teachers prepare anytime, anywhere. Head Start Resources, an app available on iOS and Android, is a gateway to tools and resources for those associated with or interested in the program. With the app, users can access: The latest and greatest in Head Start News and updates, The nearest Head Start locations with a map feature that utilizes geolocation, Links to their website via a search function, with resources pertaining to Performance Standards and information about the Head Start Act, and Help by utilizing the “Contact Us” section, featuring a phone number, email, office hours, and an interactive form.
In a few short years, the number of mobile apps has exploded, and the time spent on apps continues to increase. However, one thing hasn’t changed: the number of apps individuals use. The average smartphone owner uses 22 to 28 apps in a month, according to new data from Nielsen. Here are a few highlights from the report: U.S. smartphone users age 18 and over spend 30 hours, 15 minutes using apps each month, 65 % more time than they did just two years ago.
You don’t have to try too hard to get people into the water during summer. But swimming the healthy and safe way? Well, everyone could use help on that. Whether you are a swimmer, lifeguard, pool attendant or sun-loving spectator, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Healthy Swimming iPhone/iPad app is for you. With a simple click or two, find the most accurate information about: Where we swim: Pool or ocean?
Resources like Theresa Neil’s Mobile Design Product Gallery book and Mobile-patterns.com describe, and provide examples of, common features mobile developers can implement and tailored further to satisfy their users. As mentioned in this week’s Trends on Tuesday, customizing apps to meet users’ needs is a crucial part in maximizing user experience. Today, we wanted to highlight how some agencies are implementing search, maps & geolocation and custom navigation to better their mobile product’s user experience.
Apps that are downloaded, used a few times and then never used again, are considered part of the “app graveyard.” In fact, 95% of apps are discarded within a month of download by users, according to Smashing Magazine. By focusing on creating a great user experience, you can make sure your agency apps are used consistently and don’t end up in the app graveyard. Smashing Magazine lists some “Lessons Learned From the App Graveyard” that government agencies should heed.
The job of the American Battle Monument Commission (AMBC) is to manage all overseas cemeteries and memorials from WWI and WWII. There are over 200,000 veterans who are buried or memorialized at these cemeteries. When ABMC began thinking about releasing a native mobile application, they had two primary objectives: 1) The app should be able to serve as a “tour guide” to the millions of visitors who visit the memorials in person.
Food deserts are areas where residents have little or no access to nutritional food. Food deserts exist because of low-incomes, lack of transportation, or too few stores that stock produce and other healthy food items. Governments from the local level to federal have implemented grant programs to encourage grocery store construction in the food deserts. Community activists have also worked to create food co-ops and encourage farmer markets to target the food deserts.
Approximately 70% of American households have a fixed Internet source of 0.2 megabits per second or greater, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Measuring Broadband Across America Report that analyzes the digital divide in the U.S. Up 15% in the last decade, this increase in Internet subscription source has significant impact on how citizens are receiving, utilizing, and sharing vital information. There were two interesting highlights for mobile implementers:
You’ve just found a great open source fed agency app on the Mobile Code Sharing Catalog, and would love to use one of its cool functionalities for your own agency’s app. As federal agencies release more and more code to the open source community, this dilemma is becoming increasingly commonplace. Agencies who open-source their entire app’s code are taking an excellent first step; the next challenge is to get the really interesting and useful code reused more readily.
Responsive Web design is widely-known as a go-to solution for designing a website to fit on any device’s screen size. As we found in our February workshop, federal agencies are implementing it for various reasons. There are various ways to implement responsive design. Some agencies have implemented it via structured data and content modeling and others have completely redesigned their website. Agencies who are not yet at that point are looking for ways they can begin.
Hurricane Arthur, the first named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall in North Carolina, July 3, as a Category 2 hurricane. It was no Sandy, but Arthur nevertheless reminds us to be prepared now and always. As we say at NOAA, “It only takes one.” That “one” could be a hurricane or wildfire or any disaster or extreme event. If after a disaster you find yourself with only a mobile device in hand as your most convenient or sole Internet access point, a redesigned FEMA website might come as a small bit of relief.
Major mobile milestones in May—try saying that three times! A new mobile usage report from ComScore revealed two significant shifts to mobile in May: total time spent on digital media and time spent on apps. Here are a few highlights from the report: Mobile platforms—smartphones and tablets—accounted for 60% of total time spent on digital media, up from 50% a year ago. Mobile apps accounted for more than half (51%) of all time spent on digital media, up from 43% a year ago.
The Department of Health and Human Service’s Mobile REMM App provides physicians and emergency medical staff with the latest and greatest information concerning radioactive and nuclear emergencies. Available on iOS, Android, and Blackberry platforms, the native application showcases comprehensive information concerning dose estimators and resources to initiate a variety of triages on site without requiring mobile connectivity. After its April update to 2.0.1, users now have access to management algorithms that provide scenario-based flowcharts to help in treatment decision making.
Like many Americans during the last month, I developed FIFA fever. Checking on scores, anticipating the latest Google Doodle and watching game highlights became part of my daily iPhone routine. Despite the elimination of Team U.S.A, mobile video consumption continues to win new fans. Consider these mobile video viewing statistics: On average, consumers spend 33 minutes a day watching video on mobile devices compared to 22 minutes a day watching video on desktops and laptops according to a report by eMarketer.
Washington. You can say a lot of things about this town, but one thing is clear: Fourth of July is our holiday. No one rocks Independence Day quite like we do, thanks to the hardworking people at the National Park Service who manage our National Mall and help stage a blockbuster fireworks celebration there that rivals any around the globe. Coming to “America’s front yard” for the festivities? The NPS National Mall app is a must-download.
The rise of mobile device ownership is rapidly changing the way we, and our stakeholders, interact with organizations and information. From local weather to the status of our train, we look to our smartphones to not only provide the answers, but anticipate our questions. Forrester refers to this behavior as the mobile moment—a point in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context.
World Cup fever, everyone’s got it—even the Broadcasting Board of Governors‘ (BBG) Voice of America has reporters covering the event. For this year’s World Cup, VOA has teamed up with the Office of Digital and Design Innovation (a digital team inside the BBG) to create two new sites: one in English and one in French. These mobile-firsts sites are light-weight, responsive and built to meet the needs of the network’s African audiences, which are increasingly turning to mobile for news and information.
The Census Bureau recently released a “machine-readable dataset discovery service” that lists 41 Census data sets. It’s in spreadsheet form and gives a description of the datasets along with links to the API and developer documentation. What makes the discovery service machine readable is that’s based on Project Open Data’s “Common Core Metadata Schema” that uses a standard way to describe and index government information sources. The discovery service makes it easier for developers to find and mix different APIs together to create sophisticated apps.
Mobile devices are moving closer to the center of the social universe, according to this Sproutsocial article. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are overwhelmingly used on the go. Comscore predicts that there will be increasing monetization via social in the coming years. In the banking industry, where data shows many people have stopped going to brick and mortar banks, tying mobile and social together is critical. Organizations are increasingly adopting a SoLoMo approach in which they leverage the interplay between social, local and mobile.
With the start of “astronomical summer” later this week on June 21, that means two things: road trips and car buying. If you’re doing either or both, best be sure to grab the app for the SaferCar program from the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We blogged about the SaferCar app last year when NHTSA launched the app in iOS, and we are pleased to report that Android users have been brought into the fold with their own version for download on Google Play.
Not only does the Department of State have a great set of APIs, State also has an excellent example of how to build an informative and useful app. EducationUSA is a network of State Department advisers who help international students apply for U.S. university programs. The EducationUSA app has the most popular resources and services from the EducationUSA website, such as the ability to: Search for EducationUSA advising center information Follow the primary social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, & YouTube) View Frequently Asked Questions (in 8 languages) Discover new financial aid opportunities, and Utilize the Ask an Adviser (in five languages) function The EducationUSA app is an excellent example of designing for multiple-device experiences.
Imagine a world where your mobile device delivers ads for goods and services within 100 yards of your location. According to Thinknear, a leader in targeted mobile advertising, that future may soon be a reality. Here’s what Thinknear found when measuring the accuracy of location data used in mobile advertising: 67% of ad inventory comes with latitude and longitude information compared to 10% a few years ago 34% of mobile impressions are accurate within 100 meters; 9% are between 100 meters and 1000 meters; and 30% are between 1,000 meters and 10,000 meters 20% of mobile location-based ad inventory is outside 10,000 meters—more than six miles off target Mobile marketers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from accurate location data.
As highlighted in this Trends on Tuesday post, time spent on mobile phones—about 3 hours per day—has surpassed that of daily PC usage. This yields a significant opportunity for consumer interaction with federal agencies’ mobile apps, not just websites, and social media outlets. To take advantage of new opportunities for consumer interaction, federal agencies are implementing social media as part of their mobile products. We surveyed the mobile products submitted to the Federal Apps Registry to see how agencies are incorporating social media into their mobile products.
With the recent growth of smartphone and tablet ownership, it’s no surprise that U.S. consumers are spending more time on mobile devices than PCs. Mobile usage will rise to nearly three hours per day in 2014, according to eMarketer. So how does mobile compare to other major media: Mobile usage will rise to 2 hours 51 minutes in 2014, up from 2 hours and 19 minutes in 2013.
This morning I was walking down 18th Street, crossing Pennsylvania Avenue by the World Bank when I heard what sounded like “a test from the Emergency Broadcast System.” I looked behind me and realized it was coming from my purse and that my phone was jiggling. I pulled out my phone to see that there was a flash flood warning. I looked up and saw dozens of people on the crowded sidewalks pulling out devices.
As government innovators, we work to improve public services every day. In essence we are already in a public private partnership. But how can your agency capitalize on existing public private partnerships to engage citizens and enhance services? Four panelists from across government shared their public private partnerships success stories at the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday. The three other panels were on performance analysis, customer service across channels, and inter-agency work.
During the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, customer service experts from across government came together on a panel to share what customer service means to them and their organization and specific ways they leverage it. The other panels were on performance analysis, public private partnerships, and inter-agency work. The panelists spoke about the strategies they use to integrate multi-channel customer service and the organizational barriers they’ve encountered. The panelists acknowledged that while the the government, as a whole, has room for improvement in providing truly integrated cross-channel customer service, leadership is beginning to recognize the importance and cost-savings, not to mention happy customers, it brings.
Ask, and you shall receive. That was the strategy behind the new homepage from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new CDC.gov homepage debuted last month with a responsive design that offers a “one-site-fits-all” experience based on feedback from you, the public. Before setting out on their journey of Web redesign, the CDC team sorted through satisfaction survey and traffic data from more than 10,000 users who came to CDC.
At the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, Jacob Parcell, Manager, Mobile Programs at the General Services Administration led a panel on the challenges and benefits of Inter-Agency work. The other panels were on performance analysis, customer service across channels, and public private partnerships. “The challenges are real,” said Parcell, who quoted President Obama’s famous salmon quandary: “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” Obama said.
At the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, more than 200 innovators across government and industry came together to share how digital services can improve citizen services and reduce cost. Four panels convened to share information on performance analysis, customer service across channels, public private partnerships and inter-agency work. We have a recap of the Performance Analysis Panel below. How do you show and track performance in 21st century digital government?
Since 2001, Mary Meeker has developed a knack for highlighting what’s currently happening on the Internet and how this information may impact technology and business in the future. Last week she released her 2014 Internet Trends and it reveals some interesting digital trends. Here are the highlights: Marketing: Social messaging is changing from broadcasting a few messages to a large audience (like Facebook) to frequent interactions with targeted groups (like Snapchat).
We had a GREAT DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit today. There were more than 200 digital innovators from across government and industry working to build the 21st century government the public expects. The four panels focused on performance analysis, customer service across channels, inter-agency work, and public private partnerships. Here’s what you missed in a short highlight video. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIWwnomPxo4&w=600]
While many of us were planning for barbecues or heading to lakes and beaches on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend, the digital team at Arlington National Cemetery was busy doing what they do best: honoring the sacrifices of America’s veterans with the launch of an upgraded mobile app that helps the public to engage with the history of this sacred site and the fallen who rest there. Released in time to mark the Cemetery’s 150 years of military burials, the ANC Explorer 2.
If you’re a frequent Trends on Tuesday reader, you may recall our post titled, “Latinos Embrace the Mobile Future,” which outlined several key categories where Latinos have adopted mobile technology faster than other groups. A new report by Univision and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, took an in-depth look at the mobile habits of Hispanic millennials, revealing that these tech-savvy, young adults not only embrace the mobile future, but may shape what the mobile future will look like.
What if a single piece of paper could make your mobile app work 20% better? It’s hard to imagine something as unimpressive as paper influencing our 21st century smartphones, but it’s true. Well before we get into the design and coding phases, we can show customers a mockup of an idea of what our product might look like. It’s called a prototype (or a wireframe)—it’s a model of a design that’s still in development.
Memorial Day is Monday and we wanted to let you know about some mobile products available for the holiday. As you’re visiting Arlington National Cemetery, Pointe du Hoc or the National Mall this Memorial Day to pay your respects to our fallen military service members, there are three mobile apps that will provide you with in-depth information about your visit. Arlington National Cemetery’s ANC Explorer mobile app allows the user to locate gravesites, events, or other points of interest; generate front and back photos of a headstone or monument; and receive directions to those locations.
Have a DigitalGov success?—published an API? Got buy-in from leadership? Changed a part of your customer-service paradigm? Developed a cool dashboard? Got the app out the door? Heck! Have you prototyped a wearable, drivable or flyable? Have a DigitalGov opinion?—think we should be focusing more or less on something? Have an idea on how to improve development? Want to share your digital gov mantra? Internet of things? You are doing and thinking a lot, and we have a place for a few of you smarties to share with other agencies.
Smaller doesn’t mean more popular when it comes to smartphone screen size. According to mobile analyst Canalys, shipments for phones with screens larger than 5″ represented a third of total shipments worldwide in Q1 this year. Devices with a screen size larger than 5″ are more popularly known as “phablets” (not quite tablets, not quite phones). Government agencies have been implementing responsive design so their Web properties adjust to screen size.
We won’t build the government of the 21st century by drawing within the lines. We don’t have to tell you the hard work of building a digital government doesn’t exist in a vacuum or a bubble. Show us social media without mobile, Web without data and user experience without APIs. You can’t? That’s right—in reality, digital government intersects and cuts across boundaries every day in order to deliver the digital goods.
Let’s face it: Some of us work to live. Some live to work. And all of us look forward to pay day. If you work for the Department of Defense, the Executive Office of the President, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services or the Broadcasting Board of Governors, chances are that you are one of 6.
“There’s an app for that.” New data from app analytics provider Flurry on mobile app usage reveals that smartphone users are taking this trademarked slogan to heart. Of the 2 hours and 42 minutes per day that a typical user is on a mobile device, mobile app usage accounts for 2 hours and 19 minutes of that time. In other words, app usage accounts for nearly 86 percent of time spent on a mobile device.
I’ll be honest: When I had only heard the name of the new mobile app from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I thought, “Interesting — another dieting app to add to my phone.” So wrong was I. In fact, the only way you’re going to lose weight with this traveler’s app is if you don’t use it. And by “lose weight” I mean involuntary weight loss from retching over a large porcelain bowl—or worse, from being hospitalized for severe dehydration—having contracted food poisoning or a spectacular case of diarrheal disease while traveling abroad.
Here’s a statistic that might surprise you: 28% of Chief Information Officer (CIO)s in the private sector admitted in a survey they don’t have a plan for mobile technology. They cited compliance issues as a factor preventing their organizations from taking the necessary first step. Now, you may be wondering, “Does my agency fit in that category?” Two years ago, the Digital Government Strategy required agencies to start planning and implementing anytime, anywhere strategies.
Smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, not to mention your agency’s desktop website, are all clamoring for information, but sliced and diced in different ways. How can you make your content adaptive for efficient delivery to all of these mediums? Structured content and open content models can help you create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent. We’ve created two open and structured content models that we want you to use and adapt.
It’s disturbing to think about, but essential for all of us to know about: The sexual abuse and exploitation of children. When it comes to rescuing those children and investigating, locating and arresting suspected child predators, “it’s a race against the clock,” says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Acting Director John Sandweg. Luckily there’s a mobile tool to help beat that clock back a bit. Touted as the first of its kind in U.
AIDS.gov convenes and is guided by the Federal HIV/AIDS Web Council. The Council includes Web/new media leads, subject matter experts, and communication leads representing HIV programs across the U.S. government. Together we use new media to promote federal programs, policies and resources related to HIV. In March, members heard from four key federal leaders about how they are using technology to reach the goals of their programs. Below we provide highlights from each speaker’s remarks.
It’s no secret, if you want to reach Millennials, mobile is a great way to connect. This generation of tech-natives is adept at accessing large amounts of information held in the palms of their hands. However, their information overload also poses a challenge for agencies competing to gain their attention. The Center for Media Research presents four suggestions for crafting a mobile strategy that will engage Millennials: Have a mobile site.
The Architect of the Capitol’s new app gives users the ability to view the collection of statues donated by the 50 states in its Guide to the National Statuary Hall Collection of State Statues, available on iOS. Visiting the capitol? The app gives you the location of your state’s statues so you can make sure you have your photo taken with your state’s favorite son or daughter. Want to find out more about the 100 Americans who are included in the collection?
While it does provide challenges, anytime, anywhere digital government provides numerous opportunities for contact centers to do business more effectively. According to this study by Compare Business Products, one of the most important impacts for contact centers is that smartphone users can now connect with contact centers via voice calls, SMS messages, Internet pages, social media video chat and native apps. While mobile is changing user habits, the study states, “those contact centers that are able to embrace these channels and make it easy for customers to contact them through any of these at their whim will naturally be those that rise to the top of the pile and impress their customers.
Earth Day is next week, so today instead of featuring one mobile product like we do every Thursday, we’re highlighting how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is tackling mobile to help empower citizen environmental decisions. Currently, you can access EPA’s mobile website, a number of EPA apps, and the agency has a dedicated team working on mobile product decisions. Last month, EPA reported on the status of current mobile projects.
What’s black and white and read all over? An e-reader. While it may be premature to revise classic riddles, a recent study by the Pew Research Center indicates that e-books are gaining popularity among American readers. Nearly three in ten adults (28%) reported reading an e-book in the past year, up from 23% at the end of 2012. Who’s reading, and how: Half of American adults now own either a tablet or an e-reader for reading e-content.
As the rapper Notorious B.I.G. aptly noted in his hit song, “Mo Money” brings “Mo Problems.” Especially when you run up against confusing policies or questionable actions by large national banks and financial institutions. Now it’s easier than ever to get your questions answered and troubleshoot your banking issues on-the-go with the mobile-optimized www.HelpWithMyBank.gov from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The site, which has been formatted into responsive design, serves a variety of screen types—from smartphones to tablets to laptops and desktop monitors.
Have you ever opened an email on your smartphone, and then switched to your laptop to read the attachment or write your response? According to a new multi-device study, you’re not alone. More than 40 percent of all online adults move across devices—they start an activity on one device and finish it on another. Reasons behind the switch… Comfort and convenience: the main reasons why people change devices mid-activity are to use a larger screen and for easier typing Increases with the number of devices owned: 54% of people who own two devices and 73% of people who own three devices switch between them to complete tasks or activities Other key considerations: urgency of the task, length of time involved, security and privacy concerns and the level of detail required It’s important that we keep the online journey of our customers in mind when designing for the web.
The Internet of Things, a concept approaching reality, is best described as objects (think appliance, trees, etc.) in the world equipped with identifying devices or machine-readable identifiers that make them connected to the Web. This handy infographic charts the history and development of the idea and perhaps this washing machine could be a roadmap to the future. The fourth annual Internet of Things Dayis Wednesday, April 9th. It was created by the Internet of Things Councilto encourage interested people around the world to connect by hosting and attending meetups, hackathons, and spending time with others to help jump-start important categories of conversation and collaboration around this technology.
As a “warfighting-ready force,” the U.S. Navy can bring it wherever and whenever it’s needed around the globe. Now this armed force is bringing it—the latest news, video, photos, multimedia, special events and more—to sailors and their families through a slick new app that effortlessly crosses borders and software platforms. The official U.S. Navy app curates content from a variety of Navy assets and offers users a mobile experience that includes:
159.8 million people in the U.S. over the age of 13 owned smartphones during the three months ending in January, up 7 percent since October, according to ComScore. That is a 66.8 percent mobile market penetration, meaning two thirds of people in the country owned a smartphone at the beginning of this year. Comscore also finds Apple continues to sell the most devices, while Android is the top mobile platform.
There’s a LOT going on at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and you don’t want to miss it: Seizures of illegal drug and counterfeit cash. Arrests of human smugglers. Even the interception of imported “pests” (most recently, a new slug found in the Washington area that goes by the name of Pallifera sp) by CBP agriculture specialists. Who knew? Thanks to a mobile-optimized and redesigned www.cbp.gov, now you can get all the latest CBP news, videos, photos, pest interceptions and more—30,000 pieces of content in all, so far—from any smartphone or tablet.
Building quality mobile products is the greatest challenge for succeeding in the mobile space according to an infographic by SmartBear. One key to developing quality mobile products is testing, as “nearly 50% of consumers will delete an app if they encounter just a single bug.” As a result the following processes are used to ensure a quality mobile app: Manual Testing – 27.96% Automated Testing – 18.16% API Testing – 16.
Responsive Web design implementations in the federal government have members of the Mobile Gov Community of Practice asking what is responsive Web design and how do we do it? In February, the Mobile Gov Community of Practice hosted a workshop with more than 40 feds from 19 agencies to answer these questions. This article is the first in a series of articles and events to highlight what we learned at the workshop and explore related topics agencies need to consider when implementing this technology.
In 1994 when the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) launched it’s first website, the Web was a very different place. Many websites that were launched had little consideration given to, or even had an understanding of, things such user experience, content strategies, or design. Over the next 20 years our USGS Web presence has grown immensely as we’ve pioneered new research, tools, and applications in the support of understanding our planet’s complex environment and the ground on which we stand.
Need to make a pitch for injury prevention? About to give an impromptu public health presentation that can benefit from a few sobering data points about leading causes of death in your state? (Or maybe you just have a keen interest in the macabre while waiting for the bus.) Well, go grab your iPads: The Center for Disease Control’s national Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System or WISQARS has now been packaged into a portable mobile app for iPad users that performs when and where you need it.
The mobile health (mHealth) market is projected to become a $50 billion industry by 2020, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been actively contributing to the rise of the mHealth applications. The agency uses public prize competitions like the recent “Game On: HIV/STD Prevention Mobile Application Video Game Challenge” to crowdsource a variety of health apps for the public in addition to creating mHealth apps in-house.
Mobile devices are uploading data faster and mobile users are starting to expect better performance, according to Citrix. Fifty percent of web pages are taking 37.5% less time to load on a mobile device than they did just a year ago according the Citrix Mobile Analytics Report. This infographic from the study shows the percentage of users who abandon a mobile website based on the speed with which it loads:
In 25 years, imagine a world where anytime, anywhere, any device is just taken for granted. That’s the theme from the responses we got from our Mobile Gov Community of Practice members when we asked them to predict the effect mobile would have on the Web over the next 25 years. While no one claimed to have the exact answer, most members described a future state where the Web was pervasive, not just tied to your computer or smartphone, but interacting with anything and everything.
Tablet ownership continues to rise, 44% of Americans now owning one, according to Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) December 2013 estimates. Other interesting findings include: Exactly half of American adults now own either a tablet or an e-reader. 7 in 10 online consumers expect to buy a tablet sometime in the near future, according to the CEA research. What is also interesting to note is that a shift toward smaller tablet screens is occurring.
E-books are great for one thing: reading on mobile devices. Their reflowable text adjusts to fit the reader’s smartphone, tablet or e-reader in the type size the reader chooses. They are essential for reading on smartphones, and better than pdf’s for all but the biggest tablets. But e-books are not great for design. They’re generally single column, with images “anchored” within the text flow. Graphical enhancements are very limited, and are supported differently (if at all) on different devices.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is bringing lots of change to the traditional healthcare landscape as practitioners and healthcare companies gear up for an influx of patient demand. There are also changes to the way healthcare companies and doctors will track and report reimbursements. And not only is the healthcare changing but also are the mobile habits of healthcare practitioners — especially doctors. According to InformationWeek, 86% of physicians and “mid-level” clinicians now use smartphones in their professional activities, up from 78% in 2012.
Global mobile data traffic almost doubled in 2013 according to Cisco’s recent Traffic Forecast Update. There are a number of other mobile data traffic trends in the report, but here are five trends we wanted to highlight today: Global mobile data traffic grew 81 percent in 2013. Global mobile data traffic reached 1.5 exabytes per month at the end of 2013, up from 820 petabytes per month at the end of 2012.
Interested in building an app that incorporates biofeedback data from multiple wearable body sensors? Check out BioZen, available on the Mobile Code Sharing Catalog, one of the first mobile applications to provide users with live biofeedback data covering a range of bio-physiological signals, including electroencephalogram (EEG), electromyography (EMG), galvanic skin response (GSR), electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), respiratory rate, and temperature biofeedback data and display it on a mobile phone.
Over the last 18 months, the intrepid Mobile Gov team has worked with you to prioritize a set of guidelines and recommendations for good mobile user experience; categories are ranked by priority and tagged by user experience concepts such as information architecture, content, functionality, design, trustworthiness, and user context. The primary purpose of this set is to put the user’s main task up front. Thus, while you’re testing your mobile site’s individual functionalities, don’t forget to make sure that your users can reasonably complete their tasks.
We’ve redesigned our mobile search results page. It now uses a card-based design and is responsive. This design gives searchers a more consistent user experience and access to the results anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Take a sneak peek of the new responsive results page. Go to USA.gov (or your website) from any mobile phone or tablet and do a search. See the sample results page for a search on passports on USA.
Money for college? It’s never too early — or too late, for that matter — to start schooling oneself in the possibilities of federal financial aid. Following in the footsteps of their StudentAid.gov website, the digital team at Ed.gov’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) closed out 2013 with the launch of FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov, a “sister” site featuring a flexible, easy-to-access responsive design. What StudentAid.ed.gov is to students, the new FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov is to guidance counselors, “college access professionals,” nonprofit mentors, community organizations, volunteers and others.
Children’s mobile media use has doubled and in some cases tripled in the last two years, according an eSchool News report of a study by Common Sense Media. Here are the other key findings: Roughly twice as many children use mobile media today than in 2011. “Traditional” screen media use, such as television and video games, has decreased by more than 30 minutes per day. Children still spend most of their media time watching television, but viewing habits have changed.
If you have ever visited census.gov, you know that sorting through the vast array of information about America’s people, places and economy can be daunting. Based on customer research and feedback we collected and analyzed over time, we heard loud and clear that both search and navigation of our site could be much better. Visitors to census.gov should not have to work so hard to find the information and statistics they are looking for to complete their research, personal projects or business needs.
There’s no way to sugar-coat it. It’s that time again. Tax time. And just in (tax)time, the Internal Revenue Service has updated its handy IRS2Go Mobile App for iPhone/iTouch and Android phones. The 2014 version of the app offers a more elegant and streamlined visual experience — and a few convenient new features including: The Refund Status tab now has a “status tracker” for users to see the status of their tax returns.
Piggybacking on one of my earlier posts, People are Crazy about Mobile, I’m going to talk about “Distracted Walking.” Who among us hasn’t walked and texted or checked Facebook or Twitter on our smartphones, but have bumped into someone or something while texting on your smartphone? I know I am guilty of that. Maybe you’ve seen this viral video of a woman who, distracted by Facebook on her phone, fell into a fountain.
Smartphone adoption continues to grow exponentially. IDC recently reported smartphones accounted for 55.1% of worldwide mobile phone shipments last year. Smartphone manufacturers shipped a whopping 1.004 billion smartphones last year, up 38.4% from 2012’s shipments of 725.3 million, according to data from IDC. Worldwide, phone makers shipped more than 1.8 billion cellphones, with smart devices accounting for 55.1% of the total. During the fourth quarter, 284.4 million smartphones shipped around the world, up 24.
Let’s ponder this for a moment: Maybe you live in South Florida. Maybe the weather is warm, beautiful, sunny. Maybe you’re looking forward to a few days of boating while the rest of the country battles ice storms, snow drifts and various states of emergency. (We can dream, can’t we?) But before you venture out onto that blue paradise, you probably need a few important items to ensure smooth sailing.
Mobile first means more than just focusing on text content; it’s also includes considering visual content as important element of the user experience. The infographic from Design for Infographics highlights what happens when a visual experience doesn’t meet mobile users expectations. Here are some tips on making sure your visual content, like infographics, create good visual user experiences. 1. Infographics should tell a story. Explain the key point’s people need to consider in your graphic.
We were hoping for 30, but we got more than 100 user experience professionals and novices on Jan 28, 2014, for our User Experience (UX) Summit at the General Services Administration. The event was sponsored by the User Experience Community of Practice and the DigitalGov User Experience Program. Here’s what we discussed: The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) Three speakers shed some light on the vitally important PRA process: Bridget C.
Responsive web design has been a beacon of light in the darkness of mobile strategy for many federal agencies. Many agencies have implemented it and many others are exploring this approach to Mobile Gov. There are still many other questions about responsive web design and it’s time to provide some illumination. Next Thursday, February 6, we are providing an opportunity for agencies to talk about these questions. At our Responsive Web Design Workshop: Why, How and What’s Next?
So: You decided to purchase a car that takes advantage of more environmentally friendly fuel. Congratulations! Now, you need to find a place to fill the tank that offers more than just regular gas. The new Alternative Fueling Station Locator app from the folks at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a must-try. The new iPhone app will find and map the 20 closest stations within 30 miles of your location that sell alternative fuels such as natural gas, biodiesel, E85 ethanol, propane and hydrogen.
While composing email on mobile phones is still a tricky feat, email reading is quickly shifting away from the desktop. According to data from the US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q4 2013 from Movable Ink, way more than half of all email — a full 65 percent — is now being accessed via mobile devices in the U.S. That’s up relatively steeply from just 61 percent for the third quarter of 2013.
Mobile apps have the power to grant us access to data beyond our expectations, help us get things done easily and quickly, and have some fun, too. But what about apps that can potentially increase our personal and the greater public safety in our neighborhoods and communities? That’s the reason to get behind the Rail Crossing Locator, a mobile app from DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration for iPhone and iPad users.
According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark report, overall 4th quarter online sales were up 10.3% year over year. Here were some of the key drivers: • Mobile Traffic and Sales: Mobile traffic soared, accounting for nearly 35 percent of all online traffic, up 40 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. • Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy: Smartphones drove 21.3 percent of all online traffic, making it the browsing device of choice.
In September 2013, the Mobile Gov Community of Practice released user experience guidelines and recommendations for federal agencies to use in order to create good mobile user experiences. This article highlights private sector and government resources and tools to assist agencies in implementing those user experience guidelines. **Mobile User Experience Resources and Tools From the Private Sector ** There are a number of resources in the private sector for designing excellent User Experience.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking the well-known slogan, “See something, say something,”__ to the crowd. Consider it more “See something, submit something.” Harnessing the power of citizen intelligence to understand and respond to disasters, FEMA in late 2013 launched a new feature in its iOS/Android app that crowd-sources photos of disasters and extreme events. “Disaster Reporter” enables people to upload photos of disaster scenes with short captions, which, after a quick vetting process, are then plotted by location on an interactive map.
This infographic from Light Reading addresses recent trends in mobile data use. We are struck by how much data was transferred via a WiFi connection vs. cellular. People are using WiFi connections way more than cellular ones. Some other quick highlights: In Q2 of 2013, 4x as much data was transferred over a WiFi connection vs. Cellular connection. Top 5 States with WiFi Bandwidth are VA, DE, NJ, MA, and NH.
Did this week’s polar vortex wreak havoc on your heating and cooling system? Maybe now you’re in the hunt for a new furnace or looking for more efficient ways to keep warm? Just in time for the epic deep freeze, the team at the Department of Energy has created a much improved web experience for users of their Energy Saver and other popular programs with the launch of a shiny new version of Energy.
A recent article in Mobile Marketing Watch suggested location-based sensor fusion would be featured on a billion mobile devices in 2016. Last year Mary Meeker said in 2013 that mobile would be wearable, sharable, drivable and flyable. We’ve gathered some other projections for the future functionality of mobile devices; • Indoor Positioning (IPS) or Location-based Sensor Fusion – This is the projection from ABI. In a few years, you won’t need to locate a facility map to find out where you are.
Feeling the need for [more] speed? Well, so is the mobile team at the Federal Communications Commission. As part of the agency’s Measuring Broadband America Program, the FCC is looking to the crowd (that means you!) to help them assess America’s mobile broadband performance on a national scale. Their hope is to use the data they collect anonymously through their new FCC Speed Test app—Android-only for now—to create a detailed picture that could improve both the cellular and WIFI speeds you experience on your mobile device.
Today we want to tell you about the federal agency trends we saw this year in the development of public facing mobile products. Digital Government Strategy drove Mobile Gov Development Digital Government Strategy milestone 7.2 required agencies to implement two public facing mobile products in May. The White House highlighted these agency mobile product implementations. Responsive Design Proliferated. During the summer and fall a number of agencies like the Department of State, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, USA.
Earlier this year the National Gallery of Art released their “Your Art” app on iOS and now they have released an Android version. The Your Art app allows users to explore more than 130 works by artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, and others. Along with the new Android version, the iOS version has been updated to be available in French, English, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, and Spanish.
Here’s the latest news from the people are “crazy about mobile” beat. Do you remember the last time your phone was not within earshot? Well, according to this infographic from Fast Company, 25% of smartphone owners ages 18-44 surveyed said they couldn’t remember the last time their smartphone was not within ear shot. There are a couple of significant facts from those who CAN remember; Almost half of people surveyed, said it had been an hour or less since they last had their phone nearby.
Here Comes Santa Claus, Here Comes Santa Claus, Right Down iOS/Windows/Android Lane… What started out as a misdirected phone call to NORAD’s predecessor agency in 1955 turned into a much anticipated holiday tradition for kids and adults alike. Fifty-eight years later, NORAD is still tracking the now 1600-year-old Santa’s whereabouts, but this year the agency is offering children and their parents a visually enhanced mobile app on 3 platforms and website (non-mobile) experience to follow along.
Mobile shopping increased significantly this year for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But by how much? A lot says this report from IBM: Online Sales Set New Record: Thanksgiving Day online sales grew by 19.7 percent year-over-year followed by Black Friday, with sales increasing 19 percent over 2012. Average order value for Black Friday was $135.27, up 2.2 percent year-over-year. Top Five Cities for Online Shopping: New York City took the top spot for online sales on Black Friday.
What if Thomas Edison Didn’t Use Test Cases? “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~Thomas A. Edison Software testing is like a science experiment. The Tester must plan: methods, steps, and paths through the Application Under Test (AUT) to completely exercise the application and uncover undesirable issues before its release. If Thomas Edison did not document his 10,000 test cases, he may have wasted time by executing some tests multiple times, or he may have missed some combinations, thus making the development of the light bulb take even longer or not at all possible.
It’s late at night. Your child can’t sleep: She has some kind of virus. You reach for a bottle of over-the-counter infant fever reducer you bought recently. But wait, you say to yourself: Didn’t I hear on the news something about a recall? Which brand was that again? Thanks to the digital team at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, you now have access to the latest drug and food product recalls the agency oversees right at your fingertips thanks to their new mobile-friendly FDA.
We’ve reported before that playing games is one of the most popular activities on mobile devices. A recent study by App Annie and IDC dives deeper into the traits and use habits of mobile gamers. For the most part, gamers tend to like tablet gaming experiences. Specifically, Nearly half of iOS game players preferred the iPad, with the rest split fairly evenly between the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The pursuit of happiness for many of us might mean a fresh new start and a new place to call home. But where? In such a large and diverse country as ours, the choices can seem endless — and overwhelming. Now, your data friendly U.S. Census Bureau has harnessed the power of its vast trove of demographic, neighborhood-specific and housing information into a new smartphone app on both Google Play and iOS called, aptly, dwellr.
America has always been a nation on the move. Whether you are looking for a career change or a new neighborhood to call home, life decisions affect each of us every day. With roughly half of Americans now owning smartphones, everyone should be able to access the wealth of statistics the Census Bureau collects to make informed decisions on the go, whether at home or on the road.
Canalys, an international IT company, predicted last week that tablets will almost out-ship all other PC form factors combined next year. They expect that tablets will account for almost 50% of the total client PC market (that includes desktops, notebooks, and tablets) in 2014. PC shipments accounted for 40% of PC shipments in Q3 2013, less than half a million units behind global notebook shipments. Tablet domination is set to continue, with Canalys forecasting 285 million units to ship in 2014, growing to 396 million units in 2017.
Oh, Thanksgiving! If you need to take a time-out from the dinner table for a little of your own (cyber)space, give these apps a try: Does a holiday with your extended family put your nerves on edge? The Breathe2Relax and TacticalBreather mobile apps are specially designed to help you control physiological responses to stress through the simple yet scientifically proven act of guided deep breathing. Both offer customizable settings. Just lighten up on the onion dip before trying them out.
Cyber Monday, billed as one of the busiest online-commerce days of the year, is spilling into the rest of the holiday season as more consumers use mobile devices to shop whenever they please. Shoppers are no longer waiting to return to work on the Monday after Thanksgiving to surf and complete web deals. Consumers armed with tablets and smartphones are stretching the Cyber-Monday sales over a longer period according to Bloomberg.
Are you active or retired Coast Guard — or related to someone who is? If so, you’ll want to spread the word about the United States Coast Guard’s Health, Safety and Work Life (HSWL) app from USCG’s Office of Work-Life Programs. The app, available for iPhone and Android phones, is a one-stop information portal for many of the support services Coasties and their dependents might need. Among its broad offerings, the app helps users:
As covered in the Mobile Product Testing Guidelines article, there are various approaches to mobile testing. This article is a resource of the Federal CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program and focuses on two common test types are compatibility testing and functional testing. Compatibility Testing The Wikipedia article on compatibility testing states the “Compatibility testing, part of software non-functional tests, is testing conducted on the application to evaluate the application’s compatibility with the computing environment.
Last week, Gartner reported that global smartphone shipments have achieved their highest share ever recorded. Worldwide mobile phone sales totaled 455.6 million units in the third quarter of 2013, an increase of 5.7 percent from the same period last year. The real bread and butter came in the smartphone product category. According to Gartner, sales of smartphones accounted for 55 percent of overall mobile phone sales in the third quarter of 2013, and “reached their highest share to date.
The NOAA Release Mako App was created for fisherman to report their releases of Shortfin Mako sharks while on the water. In order to offer the tool on another platform, the National Marine Fisheries Service released an iOS version of the app earlier this year. Like the Android version, it uses GPS and allows fisherman to upload photographs of their catches. NOAA says: The app uses a device’s built-in GPS, when available, to fill in exact location coordinates on the shortfin mako live release data form.
Recently, Mobile Marketing Watch published Sprint’s interesting infographic showing how executives use their mobile devices. “Would you trade your latte or morning cup of coffee for your mobile phone?” Sprint asked business professional executives. According to the results of their survey, turns out business professionals would rather have their smartphones than their coffee. Mobile devices are becoming more essential in how people get work done and stay connected. With high speed mobile networks available, it is now more possible to download large files and connect to the web, all while mobile.
The Department of State has updated their mobile website m.state.gov with responsive design. The site auto-detects mobile devices and displays the State mobile site by default. State’s mobile site provides the latest foreign policy information from the State Department. Included are recent stories from the Secretary’s travels, the daily press briefing, country fact sheets, human rights reports, and more. Responsive design is becoming a popular means of creating a single site that can display nicely on a range of device sizes.
More users are now accessing social media via mobile than on desktops. People are checking email or using social networks during their commute, in line at the grocery store, or waiting at the doctor’s office. MarketingResearch.org recently covered the topic and UnifiedSocial created the infographic in the post (click it to get full version) around trends in social and mobile. Here are some key stats: Mobile users are nearly twice as likely to share content on social networks as desktop users Global shipments of tablets will eclipse PCs in 2015 78% of US Facebook users access via mobile at least once a month 60% of Twitter users access via mobile at least once a month Mobile users are 66% more likely to retweet content than web users.
The Centers for Disease Control recently added three new outbreaks to their Solve the Outbreak app. CDC released the app earlier this year to teach users how CDC’s disease detectives save lives everyday. There are now nine outbreaks that players can solve to earn points. Since it’s Halloween, I’ll note that a zombie epidemic is not one of the outbreaks. Most Digital Gov experts might expect some zombies since CDC has a habit of using the living dead as an aid for teaching us about public health awareness.
Like a kid in a candy store… Every time we go to the mall, the kids pull us to the candy store with the floor-to-ceiling tubes of colored candy. The kids quickly grab their bags and scavenge from each of the bins until their bags fill up. They usually don’t even get to the second aisle of candy. As testers, we do the same thing with new technology, gadgets, and new devices as kids in a candy store.
The Pew Research Center recently released a report on “12 Trends Shaping Digital News.” Some of these trends show that mobile devices continue to affect how the public consumes the news. The report found: 19% of Americans saw news on a social network “yesterday” in 2012, more than double the 9% who had done so in 2010. 64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners said they got news on their devices in 2012.
“Future-ready content,” “responsive design,” “create once, publish everywhere” are all buzzwords you hear when talking about the present and future of Web publishing. But how do we get there? We all know that technology is only part of the answer. Open content models and structured data are a big part of the answer. Lakshmi Grama, Senior Digital Strategist in the Office of Communications and Education at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) discusses what structured content and open content models can do to help government agencies create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent in this November, 2013 webinar.
NOAA Fisheries to help you identify and aid stranded or injured dolphins and whales. The Dolphin & Whale 911 app (Android and iOS) will enhance accurate and timely reporting of stranded marine mammals in the Southeastern U.S. This app will allow you to Report dead, injured or entangled marine mammals by connecting you to the nearest stranding response hotline, so that trained responders and veterinarians can treat the animal (App only works in Southeastern US- stay tuned for expansion to additional geographic areas).
Mobile Future recently released this infographic about the proliferation of connected devices. Among the key data points: Today, there are 10 billion connected devices. By 2020, data from connected devices will more than double all global Internet traffic in 2012. Traffic from connected devices will grow 24 times in just five years. Global connected device revenue is $200 billion now and could grow to $1.2 trillion in 2020. In the future, virtually everything we make will be able to connect to the Internet.
A report by the PEW Research Center, 12 trends for shaping digital news, looks at how the internet and digital devices are changing news consumption habits. While half of all Americans still prefer to get their news from television and print, younger Americans cite the Internet as their main source for national and international news. Findings from the report include: 50% of the public now cites the internet as a main source for national and international news 71% of those 18-29 cite the internet as a main news source 19% of Americans saw news on a social network “yesterday” in 2012 64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners said they got news on their devices in 2012 31% of tablet news users said that they spent more time with news since getting their device, and 34% of the Twitter discourse about Hurricane Sandy was news and information The report also cites ‘grazing’ the news has become more popular with younger adults and online readers who get their news when they want on mobile devices compared to older adults who get their news at regular times.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has two apps that can help citizens learn about their housing rights, locate housing counselors and file housing discrimination complaints. The HUD Counselor Locator App allows smartphone and tablet users to locate housing counselors in their own area who can help distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure and obtain more favorable modifications. home buyers determine if they are ready for homeownership, and connect them with safer and more affordable mortgages.
Mobile First is the idea that web sites should first be designed for mobile devices, including only those tasks/items that website visitors use most. Then as screen real estate increases, add in tasks/features as needed based on user priority. This means the site will work (to some degree) on that shiny new web-enabled gizmo sitting under your neighbor’s Christmas tree 4 years from now. Allows websites to reach more people (77% of the world’s population has a mobile device, 85% of phones sold in 2011 equipped with browser) Forces designers to focus on core content and functionality (What do you do when you lose 80% of your screen real estate?
The Library of Congress recently released The U.S. Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation app, an iOS version of the “Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation.” This is a comprehensive analytical legal treatise prepared by attorneys of the Congressional Research Service at the direction of the United States Senate and issued as Senate Document No. 112-9. The new app and improved web publication makes the nearly 3,000-page “Constitution Annotated” more accessible to more people and enable updates of new case analysis three or four times each year.
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project recently released their report on Cell Phone Activities for 2013. The report stated that 91% of American adults own a cell phone and many use their devices for more than just phone calls. In Pew’s recent survey, they found the most popular activities people perform on the smartphones are what you might expect; texting, accessing the web, and emailing. App downloads by phone owners have increased to 50% – up from 22% in 2009.
Content refers to the various types of material in different formats, such as text, images and video, that provide information to the user (it also fits into a mobile product’s information architecture). From the 42 Mobile Gov User Experience guidelines and recommendations released last week, you deemed 7 ‘critical’ around the content element. Specifically, it is critical that mobile gov products; Provide user-centered content Eliminate unnecessary elements Use analytics to identify content priorities (e.
The National Science Foundation’s National Science Board has developed Science and Engineering Indicators for iPad. The application provides full content of the Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI) 2012 report –the latest edition available. From NSF, The biennial SEI report is a comprehensive source of high-quality, quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and technology enterprise. SEI is essential for policymakers, researchers, journalists, or anyone in search of high-quality, policy-neutral data, trends, and analysis on the U.
How We Did It Last November, as part of revisiting the state of Mobile Gov, government mobile innovators identified a need for guidelines to help create amazing and engaging mobile user experiences. We convened a group to workshop around elements of mobile user experience with the goal to develop user experience practices for government. We then asked you to set priorities and help hone a set of useful, actionable user experience guidelines and recommendations that agencies could adopt.
Mobile searching has become a fact of life. According to a recent study by Econsultancy, 67% of smartphone owners had used their device to search for information in the past 7 days. The infographic below describes what they are searching for–the majority of searches are for arts, events and news. Last year Google predicted that mobile search will overtake the desktop search over the next few years as tablet and smartphone growth continue to surge, doubling every 2 years.
September is National Preparedness Month and there are a number of government mobile products to help you prepare for emergencies. FEMA‘s mobile app contains preparedness information for different types of disasters, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, a section to plan emergency meeting locations, information on how to stay safe and recover after a disaster, a map with FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations (one-stop centers where disaster survivors can access key relief services) and Shelters, general ways the public can get involved before and after a disaster, and the FEMA blog.
Looking to jumpstart your mobile website development? Check out the Web Experience Toolkit (WET) available on the Mobile Code Sharing Catalog. The toolkit includes reusable components for building and maintaining innovative Web sites that are accessible, usable, and interoperable. Developed as a collaborative open source project by the Government of Canada, the WET has reusable components that are open source software and free for use by departments and external Web communities.
From the time they can grasp an object in their hands, children are reaching for electronic gadgets of all kinds—particularly our smartphones and tablets. The early adoption of mobile is growing each year as evidenced by this infographic from EveryDayFamily.com. 30 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds in the U.S. already know how to operate a smartphone or tablet computer 61 percent can play a basic computer game.
Following up on their mobile website, the Social Security Administration recently released the SSI Mobile Wage Reporting app for Android and iOS devices. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits. The app allows SSI recipients and their families to report their monthly wages to Social Security from their finger tips.
A recent survey of 100 retailers by EPiServer found that 46 percent of those with a mobile strategy in place and 74 percent of those planning to launch one soon said they are using mobile primarily to increase customer loyalty or provide a more personalized experience for customers. In comparison, only 8 percent said they use their mobile strategy for sales. It’s speculated that the brand strategy was used when organizations felt they could not beat other companies with lower prices on products.
The General Services Administration has made a mobile version of its eBuy website. The mobile site provides ease of access to small businesses and customers to keep an eye on new bidding opportunities and other information associated with their contract(s) while on the go. One of the features of the mobile site is that it provides push notifications via SMS messages that will alert the users/contractors based on: Award/No Award eBuy Outage – RFQ/RFI Extension Notices New Request for Quote (RFQ)/Request for Information Modified RFQ/RFI Cancelled RFQ/RFI Received Quote To receive these notifications, contractors must register their cell phone number here.
MobileMarketingWatch released an article explaining why it is important for the workplace to be making the move to mobile. When it comes to marketing, it is essential to understand your customer and be easily discoverable or else your product will go unseen. It is all about “place, place, place.” It is no secret the use of smartphones and tablets is increasing all the time, so being easily discoverable on these devices is absolutely essential.
You have started developing your mobile product, but you may be wondering what and how to test. As with any form of software development, mobile testing should be done intermittently throughout all development stages. This article was developed as part of the Mobile Application Development Program to provide agencies with some general testing strategies, types, tools and testing scripts. The information on these testing pages has been pulled from the Mobile Gov Community of Practice and private sector resources.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has upgraded its ‘How’s My Waterway?’ website into a responsive design website, meaning it is available on any screen size: desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Now anytime, anywhere, the public will be able to check the condition of their local waterways. The site uses geolocation to determine the closest waterways to the user. Then, using the EPA’s database of “State water quality monitoring reports provided under the Clean Water Act,” the site provides information on the local waterways’ pollution status (unpolluted vs polluted), type (including acidity, PCBs, pesticides, etc.
Latinos appear to be adapting to mobile technology faster than other groups, according to Mobile Future. They are ahead of the average U.S. population in several key categories, such as: 47% of Latino adults have embraced wireless exclusively versus 34% of all U.S. adults 60% of Latinos own a smartphone versus 53% of white non-Latinos 69% of Latinos do their banking on smartphones Almost half of Latino middle school students use smartphones to help with their homework compared to 36% of non-Latino white students 76% of Latinos access the internet using exclusively mobile devices By 2017, Latinos are predicted to contribute to 20% of the tablet and smartphone market.
There has been a shift in consumer behavior during the last few years, a move toward immediacy and convenience, and with the responsive redesign of USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov, consumers can now have access to the same information and services when they need them, and on any platform and device. The number of mobile users is growing rapidly. In 2012 USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov received more than 2.5 million visits from mobile devices, not including tablets.
In May, NASA released the Space Place Prime app for both iPhone and iPad. This app’s target audience is not only kids, but for teachers, parents, and all space enthusiasts. Based on NASA’s website, The Space Place, this app presents some of the most recent and best offerings of NASA: Timely educational and easy-to-read articles from the website Daily updates of NASA space and Earth-from-space images and the latest, informative videos and articles Interface is a slidable, looping grid of images with icons indicating whether they represent an image, a video, or an article Alternatively, a list mode and a carousel mode present images, videos, and articles sorted separately Content is updated daily and favorites can be tagged and permanently saved You can check out other fun apps like Space Place Prime on the USA.
The way people are using mobile is changing—we are socializing in new ways; performing tasks in new ways, often multi-tasking between activities; and sharing and gathering information in new ways. With the prolific numbers of mobile users and the increased use of mobile in our lives, comes a concern. A concern expressed repeatedly centers around the notion of habit. While many appreciate the continuous access to social networks and blogs, it has been observed that gains achieved in productivity do not automatically generate free time but instead tend to complicate the work–life balance.