Mobile government broader than just apps vs. websites, GSA says

Federal mobile strategies are becoming broader and the former “apps vs. websites” is now widening to include more choices, according to recent mobile strategy document released by the General Services Administration.

The Citizen-Facing Mobile Gov Strategy is part of a GSA mobile wiki presenting an ongoing discussion of topics related to federal use of mobile platforms for the purpose of reaching citizens and the public.

The discussion has progressed since December, when the GSA sponsored a “mobile website vs. mobile applications” webinar highlighting the two main channels for interaction with the public at that time.

Related story:

Mobile app or mobile website--does it make any difference?

Mobile websites are websites with pared-down designs to facilitate access by mobile devices of any type. Mobile applications generally are applications designed for installation in specific mobile devices, such as iPhones or Androids.

“Should we make a mobile website, or should we make a mobile app?” Gwynne Kostin, director of mobile for the GSA’s Office of Citizen Engagement and Innovative Technologies, said in the Dec. 8 webinar.

But that former apparent dichotomy is now disappearing as there are at least six ways for federal agencies to interact with the public via mobile services, and vice versa, according to the strategy document.

In addition to mobile websites and native applications, there also are mobile Web applications, text messages, Quick Response codes, e-publications and games, the GSA said.

“Count on rapid change in every aspect of mobile: capability of the device, user expectations, increase in the use of mobile devices as primary or sole connection to the internet,” the GSA document said.

A Mobile Web application is different from a mobile website because the Web app is designed for a single targeted purpose, the wiki said. For example, the Government Printing Office recently released a mobile Web application for the purpose of releasing federal budget data.

Text messages, such as the Text4Baby program co-sponsored by the Health and Human Services Department, provide informational text messages to an audience that has signed up for the messages. The Text4Baby audience is primarily made up of moms-to-be and new mothers who agree to receive reminders about health care benchmarks, such as doctors’ visits and growth indications.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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