Thanks for that introduction and good afternoon everyone… My name is Jamie Kirk and I’m really excited to be talking with you today as SOCITM’s Graham Williamson Challenge winner 2010-11! I believe that this award is truly special and I am immensely grateful for all the opportunities that it has given me... Winning this grant allowed me to spend the summer in North America investigating how the US and Canadian governments are using smartphone apps and mobile technology to engage with citizens. This presentation will deliver the findings of that trip.
So here is my structure...I am going to focus on mobile and why its the future for government engagement and service delivery... I’m firstly going to put mobile in a wider technological context Then a bit more about the GWC and what I personally gained from the experience Then I’m going to talk about the State of Apps...give you a outline of some of the people and organisations that I met over there to give insight into the mobile developments that are happening in North America… … and finally a few thoughts that might help you start thinking a mobile strategy for your organisation One thing before I start...my final slide has the most dramatic video that you have ever seen in your entire life at any conference...ever...so that’s one thing that will hopefully keep your attention until the end.
Firstly mobile trends...the context for this presentation...the reason why I picked this topic was because every major analyst says that mobile will be the field of which the next decade is played out. Mobile is the fastest growing technological trend that has every happened...now I could say that there was 25 billion apps downloaded last year but that number is so massive that its almost impossible to comprehend...a more comprehendible thing is this...
A toothbrush...there are now my mobile phones in the world there there are tooth brushes
Kids today are growing up in a world where they are not tied to a phone line or a desktop... Indeed a recent study shows that more pre-schoolers in the States can use a smartphone than...
Tie their shoelaces...some might see that as slightly disputing...but I’m merely trying to point out the demographic shift that is occurring...96% of people between 18-29 years old own a smartphone...and 9 out of 10 people in the UK own a phone. In this mobile world government will have to deliver services and information in a manner that is always, anytime, anywhere...
Of course mobile phones used to look like this...
...and cost about this...if you adjust for inflation then the first mobile phone released would cost around $10,000!
Mobile phones have come a long well in just over thirty years... They are now acting as the hubs of our lives...apps... The small programmes that can easily downloaded from an app store to these devices are changing how we shop, socialise and find our way around.
From $10,000 to $20... According to Moore’s the price of technology gets halved every 18 months so projecting that forward then it will costs as little as this to produce the devices that we currently own today...
This will have a massive impact on who in the world will have access to these devices...but we don’t even need to wait until 2020 to see these developments right now the current mobile subscriptions stands at 5.3 billion but the 3.8 billion of them come from people in developing nations (particularly in Africa, Brazil, East Asia)... So people who own smartphones in the developing world actually outnumber the developing world. http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats# subscribers
Finally this is just a great illustration of how quickly mobile is catching up on the desktop in how people access the internet...in the next year or two it will actually over take it...
How does the Graham Williamson Challenge fit into all this? Its an annual award commemorating a past SOCITM member Graham Williamson who was killed in a motorcycle accident in the year 2000. This grant is awarded to a young professional in the UK public sector and allows them to travel to and study a pioneering region of the world. With the trends I’ve just shown you there is little doubt that mobile technology represents the future. My winning submission to SOCITMs Graham Williamson Challenge last year how can the UK public sector tap into these developments to deal the serious issues that we face right now?
...this grant allowed me to fulfil my application and travel to the US and Canada this summer to find answers and inspiration. ...A continent whose products ( Blackberry, iPhone, Android ) have continually redefined the smartphone market. With its history of intense political activism combined... With an eagerness to experiment with public service delivery... ...the US and Canada seemed like the perfect testing ground to see how the government is using mobile technology to engage with citizens and make efficiencies.
From Boston to San Francisco this SOCITM sponsored research trip allowed me to traverse the length and breadth of this vast country. The major political and technology hubs that I travelled to in all were Washington D.C., Toronto, New York, Boston and San Francisco... In this process I had to make networks of connections and identify key people to interview while I was over there... I’m going to tell of the three highlights of the trip...
My journey began in Washington D.C. The first highlight was going to the US Department of State... Where I met with the team behind a international engagement drive using mobile devices called Apps@State (but I’ll be telling you more about that later)...this is me on the ‘secret’ State Department rooftop...unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet Hilary Clinton...but given such exclusive access to an area with unique view over the distinct US Capitol skyline was truly unforgettable...
From D.C. to NYC... Mobile innovations are evident throughout the Big Apple. Just walking around the hectic streets I couldn’t help notice Quick Response (QR) codes are everywhere...
Here is one that I took a picture of on a building permit...
Here is another one on the side of garbage trucks...there everywhere... Taking a picture of these QR codes using my smartphone seamlessly took me to details of a buildings progress or recycling tips. ...This new type of interaction is being coming more common with Google reporting that they are seeing a 30% increase in mobile search queries every three months.
This gave me a great excuse to go to Google’s famous New York offices. Everything you’d expect to be there was there from people riding on scooters to a Lego building area. It’s really a slice of California dropped right into the middle of Manhattan. This was the only souvineer that I managed to get that day...a bottle of water...hopefully there get there success from what they put in the drinking water...fingers crossed!
The third highlight was in Boston...On the MIT campus I went to this fantastic building...to there media labs where some of the most outrageous inventions...it basically felt like a James Bond laboratory.
They make things like a wallet that gets harder to open the more money that you put into it...! In all seriousness this is a place where they push the boundaries of what you think is possible with technology... Boston was actually the original city to implement a smartphone app that allows citizens to report pot holes, graffiti, fly tipping, etc directly to city government using the phone’s camera. When I spoke to the team they said that they are developing the next generation of that app that will be able to automatically detect if you drive over a pot-hole in your car and send it directly to the city government.
Those were three of my professional highlights and here are the other organisations that I met with while I was other there. Big Federal organisations...small app developers...international corporations...I tried to meet with as many diverse voices as possible to get the fullest picture of developments.
That was the Graham Williamson Challenge and now onto the meat of my presentation… The State of Apps… Again mobile technology is the future... Even on the biggest political stage this fact is being acknowledged. Earlier this year, when faced with a nation dealing with economic uncertainty President Barack Obama in his State of the Union Address delivered a vision of how mobile technology investment will benefit the American people.
This a Forester research study that highlights the growing number of people that keenly with to receive services with government through mobile devices… Right now it probably stand at around 20-25% which may not seem that much but given the relative infancy of the smartphone market its actually remarkably high and of course there will be a exponential growth in the coming years.
Just looking at this slide...it must win the award the most clichéd that you have ever seen...of the 80 apps that have been created some have been good...others not so good... Just as with the mass adoption of the internet 15 years ago the public sector needs to experiment to see what makes the best fit with this technology and to utilise it to its fullest potential. Big questions still remain unanswered. Such as should government make smartphone app or should they leave it to the private sector to build apps using public sector open data? The key at the moment is experimentation and sharing good practices amongst organisations. ...so that is what I’m going to do right now...give you some app initiatives that I found that might give you some inspiration.
Firstly Citizen engagement…I’m going to give you three quick examples of how different app made by and for the government are engaging with citizens Firstly this one which is for citizen to senator Secondly another example of one for citizen to local government Thirdly an example of an international citizen engagement with the US State Department.
The New York Senate was the first State Legislature to release a smartphone app that made political and senatorial data accessible for the very first time. I spoke with Andrew Hoppin, former CIO of New York State who build the app entirely in house…Interesting example as the team brought processes from the 1970s right to the cutting edge of mobile developments. Whether you wish to connect with a senator or comment on a bill this app provides ‘ real-time constituent mobile dashboard to the legislative process’ explained the team behind the project. This type of engagement is beneficial to both politicians who are now seen in the Chambers holding iPads and citizens who are increasingly mobile. Brings New Yorkers closer to their elected officials and its main features include: Making comprehensive access to Senate information and content from all New York State Senators available any time and anywhere Search for bill information Watch video of Senate Session, Committee Meetings and Public Hearings Submit Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests Using devices with built-in GPS, users can find the Senator for where they are physically standing in New York State at any moment Power of this tool came to be seen when the NY Senate was debating a contentious issues like Civil Partnerships and this app acted as a focal point of conversation
Youtown…claims that its the ‘all-in-one mobile app for local government’.Pilot stage in North America but is hoping to bring this format over to Europe later this year… No need to build your own application or break the budget. YouTown provides the platform, you provide the data -- and your community reaps the benefits. You can even tailor the information to fit your lifestyle and preferences. YouTown is unique within the mobile government market. While some agencies do offer mobile versions of their websites, YouTown has several unique advantages in that the platform: Is location-based; users can choose a city or get real-time directions on maps within the app. Combines information from multiple agencies (i.e. Public Works, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) so residents can enjoy a one-stop shop for complete community information. Allows even agencies without websites to inform and interact with citizens. Supports open-data tools (i.e. RSS, iCalendar, KML) that governments are already using for publishing local information. Is available in a free version that agencies can sign up for and begin using in just minutes.
Apps@State...this was the US State Department initiative that I alluded to earlier...I met with Tim Receveur the man leading the project while in Washington DC. He claimed that it will “usher statecraft into the twenty-first century” by engaging global audiences through mobile devices. Apps@State provides US embassies around the world with a toolkit to develop smartphone apps that will be tailored to the culture and needs of that country. From an app that would allow a person in Brazil to apply for a US visa to an app that will aid people in the Philippines to learn English. This push by the State Department towards maximizing the mobile phone channel is not surprising given the three billion mobile phone subscriptions in developing countries. So that was a couple of examples of citizen engagement at federal, local and international level…now I’m going to turn towards apps contests… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD92sak4pko&feature=player_embedded
So that was three different examples of citizen engagement and now I’m going to outline how mobile technology offeres a unique oppotunity to bridge the digital divide US Nielsen research shows smartphone take-up is higher amongst mobile users who come from ethnic minorities: 45 per cent for Asian and Hispanic users, 33 per cent for African American users but only 27 per cent for White Americans.
I met with one nonprofit organization that believes that mobile technology can bridge the digital divide is the Washington, D.C. based One Economy. They created an apps contest called Applications for Good. It challenged software developers, game designers and students to develop fun and engaging mobile applications that help families in daily tasks. The winners of the contest included a mobile phone app that could help find the nearest nutritious food shop and an app that helps immigrant workers to safely send money back to their home countries. The reason why I saw the perceived benefit of this contest was that it focused on solving specific issues…giving people tools that would allow them to help themselves.
Apps contest are spreading around the world at a rapid pace. Where developers, companies and individuals with use public sector open data to compete against each other to create apps for public good.
Proving the adage that everything is bigger in New York was Big Apps 2.0. One of the biggest apps contests in the world that used 350 new city data sets and a $20,000 cash prize. Fifty-eight applications (24 mobile apps, 2 SMS apps and 32 Web Applications) were submitted earlier this year with categories ranging from getting around, eating out and exploring. The public voting round saw tremendous participation with over 9500 votes. One of the biggest success stories that came out the New York Apps 2.0 Contest was the winner Roadify… They bring community to commuting by allowing people to give real time transport updates that bolster the cities commuting data…as seen on the screenshot on the right. You can ‘give’ a car parking space or ‘get’ a update of a subway disruption...users will get rewarded with discounts on coffee etc the more updates they give to the service. After speaking with the people behind the app it becomes clear that without the attention and funding that came from contest that they would not have been half as successful as they’ve been…
If you want to see the cutting edge of new technology then the US army is consistently best place to look and currently they are in the process of gaining a security clearance to use Android and iPhones in military situations. They launched there app store earlier this year for soldiers to download programs that will track the location of friendly forces or map out wartime terrain or translate foreign languages aid them for instance in learning to call in an airstrike on Android powered devices. Lt. Col. Gregory Motes, chief of the Army’s new Mobile Applications Branch.Its ultimate goal of requiring soldiers to carry a smartphone just as they carry a rifle.
...from the State of Apps to creating an external citizen facing mobile strategy...
The most important thing in a mobile strategy is focusing on the user...who are they? How are they accessing your information or services? It is also important to take on board the unique characteristics of mobile and when/where users will use mobile services. Here are the three situations that most people would use their mobile phones. They are either bored...wanting to find local information or have to micro-task...
People’s Smartphones are their personal domain so any app that they download will need to hook the user quickly as you’ve only got around 30 seconds to grab their attention or it will most likely get binned. It’s important to make sure that these apps are focused on a specific need that also take advantage of mobile technologies unique characteristics of being personal, quick and tailored. You need constantly updated compeling content...and very little navigation...users want to see the content on the front page...the few taps to get something done the better. An important aspect of strategy is measuring mobile project effectiveness, outcomes and value. A focus on the number of application downloads does not address these clearly, so again you need to embed mobile into your business objectives to have a more tangible way of measuring its usefulness.
I met with Alex Howard, DC Gov 2.0 O'Reilly Media correspondent who coined the term ‘shiny app syndrome’…where he point to some government agencies developing apps for developing apps sake rather than taking advantage of the capabilities of smartphones or aligning them with agency mission and/or the needs of the public
In short, native smartphone apps are not a panacea and that other methods such creating mobile accessible websites may be cheaper and more sustainable in the future. May prove the best starting place when trying to form a mobile strategy. Only around 3% of UK Council website have a mobile template that makes them easily accessible on mobile devices. The bottom line is that developing an effective mobile strategy for government is much more than producing a smaller website or a shiny new app but questioning who your demographic is and how they access your services or information and matching this in with your organisations objectives.
I hope that you’ve this presentation has given you some ideas and inspiration to start thinking about this mobile ...and the growing need for public sector organisations to take these developments In the end, I walked away from this experience...that has taken me half way around the world...with unshakable realisation...mobile is the future. However, even with the existence of millions of consumer apps and mobile websites, government is still at the beginning of a long journey to exploit these developments to their fullest potential. So when I was over in America I never expected to find the so-called “killer app.”
...but I did find a lifesaving app… In San Ramon an app exists that allows 911 operators to send an alert to nearby citizens when someone is having a heart attack. On average it takes ambulances 7 minutes to respond to an emergency call but if assistance is given to a victim before that time then the survival rate rises to nearly 80 percent.
With I would just like to thanks SOCITM for this incredible opportunity! Thank you to David Houston for being my mentor for the year, Martin Ferguson for helping me make connections in Canada to everyone in Socitm for giving me one of the best experiences (professionally and personally) that I have ever had. Now I pass on the torch to this years winner...if he/she has half as much excitement, opportunities, adventure and challenges as I have had them I would consider them very lucky... ...with that thank you!
1. State of Apps in North America Socitms Graham Williamson Challenge 2010-11 Jamie Kirk