Citizen reports landslide to city via 311 app optimizes mobile apps for government

Federal, state and local governments looking for better “any device, anywhere, anytime” communications with each other and with the public have a growing list of options. has unveiled four cloud-based mobile solutions — Rapid Response 311, Mobile Communities for Government, Government Social Command Center and Platform Mobile Services for Government — giving agencies the ability to securely collaborate with each other, connect with citizens and build mobile government apps faster.

Rapid Response 311, based on the Salesforce Service Cloud, gives call center agents the ability to quickly access pertinent information to manage service requests via telephone, e-mail, Web and social media. Geoff Roser, a senior architect with Salesforce, demonstrated for GCN how a citizen using the Rapid Response 311 app could easily report a pothole using a simple form on a smart phone and send a geo-located photo back to an agency. A service agent can group similar reports into one request on either a desktop at the agency or in the field on a tablet. The agent can receive updates from public service work crews, and  citizens are able to check on the status of their service request. The City of Elgin, Ill., used  the technology to manage winter snow cleanup efforts across the city.

Agencies can create private and secure social communities with other departments, agencies and external partners using Mobile Communities for Government. Often, agencies are constrained by collaboration tools that only allow them to communicate internally but not with external partners, Dan Burton, senior vice president of government transformation, said in an interview.  Mobile Communities for Government combines social networking features such as profiles, real-time feeds and trending topics with business information and processes found in Salesforce, allowing agencies to set up teams with other agencies or partners outside of the agency, Burton explained.   The Food and Drug Administration is piloting Mobile Communities for Government to streamline the federal approval process for drugs and medical devices. 

Other companies are looking to extend secure collaboration beyond the boundaries of agencies. U.K.-based Huddle has launched a secure, cloud-based collaboration platform for U.S. government agencies, giving groups of users the ability to share and work on content internally and externally with partners and suppliers from anywhere, on any device. Huddle is billed as an alternative to Microsoft’s SharePoint collaboration platform, which is also offering simpler content sharing, better social enterprise tools and advanced search in SharePoint 2013. However, Mobile Communities for Government strength lies in its deep integration with other Salesforce components, such as the Chatter secure collaboration solution, Burton said.

Many government agencies do not know what citizens are saying about them on social media outlets, Burton said. To better interact with constituents, agencies can use the Government Social Command Center, based on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, to connect with citizens wherever they are most engaged, whether on social networks, websites or mobile devices. San Francisco is using insights derived from social media to measure sentiment and policy-impact in real-time so that it can quickly respond to citizens’ priorities. 

Finally, Platform Mobile Services for Government will help agency developers build, integrate and deploy government apps that make data available on any device. Developers can build a variety of apps from personal productivity apps to enterprise apps such as project management, constituent service, budgeting and finance planning. Burton said that the General Services Administration has already built over 100 custom government apps on the Salesforce platform.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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