Mobile

12 government apps to get you through the holiday season

santa mobile app 

Ever wondered if dad is being properly cautious hanging up lights? If that holiday turkey is fully cooked? Or where precisely Santa is in the sky? The federal government is here to help – with mobile apps from a dozen different agencies.

To promote the official agency mobile apps most relevant to the holiday season, the CIO council has highlighted the "12 days of federal government holiday apps" that provide users with travel, weather, safety and educational information to preserve the yuletide spirit.

The United State Postal Service's mobile app can schedule package pick-ups, track shipments and look up zip codes to make sure presents are delivered safely and on time.

For those traveling abroad, the State Department's Smart Traveler offers travel alerts and warnings, as well as official State information on foreign countries, including on U.S. embassies and consulates.

The Transportation Security Administration's My TSA app provides estimates on security line wait times and real-time flight statuses.

For those the holiday brings more stress than joy, the Department of Veterans Affairs' Mindfulness Coach app helps with mindfulness techniques, complete with a progress tracker, and includes resources for those coping with PTSD.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's SaferRide employs a geolocation service to provide you with contact information and customer reviews for nearby taxi services to ensure a safe trip home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Ladder Safety app offers safety advice, and includes a tool that measures ladder angles for those hanging decorations in out-of-reach places.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Radar Pro provides weather alerts from the agency's weather service data.

The Smithsonian Institution, along with Oceanhouse Media, offers a kid-friendly, interactive book that teaches kids about polar bears and their habitat on the North Pole.

The Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Information app optimizes the FTC website for smartphones and provides users tips on how to detect fraud and scams, as well as how to report and protect against identity theft.

For those preparing meals over the holidays, the Department of Agriculture's Ask Karen app provides tips on food allergies, preparation and handling. It also has a live-chat feature, allowing users to communicate directly with a food safety expert.

The Census Bureau's U.S. Population Challenge Pop Quiz is an educational app based on statistical data collected by the bureau about each of 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia.

And, perhaps most importantly, the North American Aerospace Defense Command's popular Santa Tracker is now available via mobile app, allowing kids and adults alike to track the industrious Saint Nicholas on his annual worldwide tour.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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