The Government Wants Your Input on Mobile Apps

Crowdsourcing could be key to spurring civic engagement and innovation.

The government continues to recognize the power of the crowd. Recently, it was announced that the federal government is behind a Civic Hacking Day, and now they want the community to offer feedback on mobile apps:

To help make Mobile Gov work better for the public, agencies identified they needed mobile user experience guidelines and recommendations. Today, we are launching a Mobile User Experience Crowd Sourcing tool where we are asking mobile innovators to help us identify user experience practices!

This project started when we got together with the Departments of State, Labor and the National Library of Medicine and 15 other agencies for a workshop in November to collect and develop mobile user experience guidelines/recommendations for agencies to use when developing and updating mobile products (apps, mobile web, SMS, etc). You can read a workshop synopsis here.

We have made amazing progress since this event and now we are looking to you to help us bring more brilliance to the mobile user experience effort.

Read Mobile Gov User Experience Crowd Sourcing! on Mobile Gov Blog.

This is a great step in the right direction for the government, which needs to embrace not only mobile technology but also civic engagement. By working with the American people to create mobile apps, the federal government can ensure the apps are better and more useful.

Over the past few years, there have been several campaigns to involve citizens in government. White House petitions have become popular lately, along with the website Challenge.gov. The trend continues, and the White House is even offering prizes for great ideas:

Todd Park, who recently became Chief Technology Officer at the White House, did pioneering work in the government crowdsourcing arena during his tenure at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He's brought his appreciation of prize-based competitions as a method to solve tough problems with him in his new role at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

"I think [prizes and competitions] are a very exciting new tool that government has in its toolkit to get better results at a lower cost," Park told Mashable. "You can greatly broaden and deepen the range of players that can help solve the problem.

"You draw in unusual suspects along with the more usual suspects. Studies suggest people that win these contests were not the usual suspects, but their aptitude seems obvious in retrospect," said Park, who added that prizes can often be the initial draw, but often, the challenge of solving a problem keeps developers interested.

Read Is Crowdsourcing the Secret to Creating Innovation in Government? on Mashable.

What are your thoughts on using crowdsourcing to spur innovation in the federal government? Let us know in the Comments section.

<p>Image courtesy of jannoon028 / <a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net" target="_blank">FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>
Mar 15 2013