Indiana ramps up mobile apps for government

A little over a year ago, Indiana's Office of Technology (IOT) adopted MobileIron's mobile device management software to administer and secure its network of 2,500 iPhones. Since then the state has streamlined citizen access to state services and seen subscriptions to its home-grown apps store skyrocket.

MobileIron allows state IT staff to detect rooted and jail broken phones, to enforce security policies and to wipe lost or stolen devices. The MobileIron server also provides access to email, calendaring and contacts for its mobile staff.

Now the IOT is moving to the second and third stages of its mobility strategy:  First, it is implementing a just-approved BYOD policy that will support an expected 3,500 Android, Windows and iOS devices. Secondly, IOT is rapidly developing and deploying its own mobile apps for both agency staff and for Indiana residents.

Already, according to Bob Clarke, manager of the IOT's application development group, the team has deployed several apps, including:

  • IN.gov, an app that gives Indiana residents access to state resources that lets them search job postings, receive alerts for job openings, check employee directories and find maps of state facilities.
  • DamagWise, an application for the state's Department of Transportation that field inspectors use to track, photograph and document accidents involving state property. The reports are transmitted to insurance companies, including quotes for damage repair, for rapid payment.
  • A travel advisory app that allows residents to receive warnings and advisories about travel conditions around the state. 
  • An app that system administrators use to monitor servers and to troubleshoot IT problems.
  • An app that interfaces with IOT's help desk ticketing system.

According to Clarke, since the IN.gov was posted to the apps store last year it has been installed over 8,000 times and it has been launched 42,690 times.  The travel advisory app, which was released only a month ago, has been installed over 41,000 times and approximately 340,000 times.

In addition, since IOT is using MobileIron's Apps@Work storefront, the team no longer has to go through the extensive hurdles involved in getting apps into the Apple app store.

"We brought MobileIron in because we wanted to be able to push internally developed applications, line of business apps, productivity apps to devices without going through that process of vetting through the Apple iOS App Store," said Clarke. 

Apps@Work also gives the state control over how its apps are deployed.  Administrators can select which applications are available to which users, as well as track app downloads and launches. 

The IOT team has also developed an app for the Department of Natural Resources.  "It will be DNR's public interface to all their fishing, hunting, state parks and camping resources," said Clarke.  "It has a help feature where you can report poachers and identify fish species, It will tell you where you can fish for particular species or where you can fish in general."

The team is also working on an app to help the state Department of Education in its efforts to reach out to families of migrant workers who qualify for medical and educational services.  "My department is only two years old," noted Clarke.  "We are so busy and I love it."

According to Dewand Neely, director of End User and Support Services, the state is also serious about training developers for other agencies to further the use of mobile apps.  "We had a training class where we trained about 18 of the internal state developers so that they can start writing apps for their agencies,” said Neely.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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