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.
Federal Mobile Products Registry
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.