Government and NGOs: Riding the Mobile Bandwagon
In the recent past, the public sector has made substantial investments in mobile to revolutionize the way they offer services and enable citizens.
Government agencies, NGOs, and non-profit organizations are now using mobile technologies to create and extend experiences. These new tools are driving action, providing critical information, and offering citizen-centric tools. The creation of mobile apps has also helped meet citizen expectations that demand the same highly integrated experiences they receive from their favorite consumer brands.
The most effective organizations are using mobile technologies to provide tools that are real-time based, open a two-way channel during a crisis, and empower communities. Let’s take a look at some pertinent examples.
New Citizen Services
The adoption of mobile technology has opened up new lines of needed services.
My TSA. Developed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the My TSA mobile application has created efficiencies for both travelers and the TSA with key features including crowd-sourced security wait times and listings of what items can or cannot be carried on the plane.
PTSd Coach. One of the most exciting applications we’ve ever seen, the PTSD Coach helps tech-savvy veterans manage their symptoms while they’re out in the “real world.” It provides a list of steps they can take to help reduce minor post traumatic stress, place an immediate call to 911 if they are at risk of harming themselves, or anything in between.
This type of interactive tool is a powerful example of how mobile can affect lives. In this case, the application also educates veterans with clinically accurate descriptions and self-assessment tools. Step-by-step relaxation steps allow on-site management of symptoms and resources for support. As of August 2011, the app had been downloaded over 11,000 times across almost 40 countries.
AIDS.gov. Another powerful example of mobile usage is the AIDS.gov mobile site. Run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the site offers HIV/AIDS basics, federal resources, and a “Using New Media” link to allow individuals who think they may be HIV positive to connect with others.
Some of the most powerful stories told by the sponsors of this application include noting the different patterns of visits; while the traditional dot-com site saw a fairly standard traffic curve, AIDS.gov sees a major spike between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on weekend nights. Further, this traffic is most often looking for testing services and facts, which offers crucial information about an individual’s mindset and the matching toolset they need. This is truly a powerful — and personal — tool.
Real-Time Response Media
Through the use of social applications, the ability of providing information and receiving critical data when it’s most needed has been transformed.
For example, during the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency used social media to explain how it responded to potential public and environmental health concerns. And the National Weather Service is asking Twitter users to use the hashtag #wxreport to share significant weather reports.
Positive Change With Community Activism
By being the building block of open dialogue supported by mobile applications, agencies are now able to promote positive change with true public activism.
SeeClickFix. This organization allows people to raise awareness about issues in their neighborhoods, whether social or cosmetic. Take a picture of the problem, Geotag it, and send it to the appropriate authorities to achieve resolution.
ONE. The anti-poverty advocacy group and campaigning organization, co-founded by Bono, has launched a new mobile app to supercharge digital activism. It empowers the user with talking points and phone numbers to easily make calls to Congress on issues like U.S. efforts to fight global poverty.
These examples show how mobile applications are creating lasting impact and behavior changes based on the ability to access real-time information that requires speed and flexibility to meet ever-changing challenges.
Caution: Mobile is Just One Touch Point
As more and more organizations look to mobile technologies as a new channel to reach consumers, they must also look at it as part of an overall multi-channel communications plan. The Library of Congress (LOC) demonstrates a fully integrated experience that has transformed how an organization can reach its target.
The LOC has truly brought the past to the present by merging all customer touch points — from online to offline to onsite. The result is an award-winning experience that has transformed the LOC in the minds of visitors as they interact with the world’s largest library.
The adoption of mobile technologies has had a powerful impact for organizations and consumers. The organizations that plan to embrace mobile as part of their overall multichannel experience across all customer touch points will be best able to adapt as our complex digital world continues to evolve.
Photo credit: Michael Gray