Report: How to build a better government app

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Report: How to build a better government app

What: “Using Mobile Apps in Government,” a report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Why: With the growing demand for mobile access to government services, federal, state and local agencies are building mobile applications for both staff and citizens. The report offers suggestions on how governments can build effective mobile apps.

Findings: The report first categorizes government-built apps into two types, based on audience. Enterprise-focused apps are mainly for internal use; they are accessible only to an agency’s employees and operate within a secure firewall. These apps are often restricted to employer-provided devices, although agency bring-your-own-device policies often require them to be compatible with the employee-owned devices as well. Citizen-oriented apps, meanwhile, are accessible to anyone who seeks to use public services and must be compatible across different devices residents commonly use.

The authors discuss the pros and cons of the primary app development paths. Native apps are technically complex and must be customized for different operating systems; web apps use responsive design so that content can be displayed across platforms; and hybrid apps are accessed through an app gateway and installed on a mobile device, but can work across different platforms.

The report offers a checklist of criteria to assess which option is best, depending on an app’s intended use and users.

Takeaway: While government apps are increasingly able to assist the public and government workers, there are three ways agencies can enhance their value:

Use responsive design to optimize online services for mobile devices.

Provide open, machine-readable data to facilitate interoperability of data and encourage development of mobile apps through application programming interfaces.

Assess feasibility of common, standard data structures throughout government so data can be easily shared and used in apps across agencies.

Read the full report here.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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