What Does Mobile Mean for City Admin?


I wanted to share a talk on mobilethat I gave recently at the ILCMAWinter Conference. The presentation addressed the following questions:

  • What doesmobile mean for city administration?
  • What do we mean by the term "mobile"?
  • Which of these characteristics are most relevant to our role in city management?
  • How does a mobile world change how we interact with citizens?
  • How can we use mobile tools to make citizen experiences better and make our lives easier?

Mobile devices have not just changed the location and manner in which we communicate with one another, but the actual way that we experience our surroundings.

Mobile means access ' access to all information, all of the time, from all possible devices. This means is that citizens will ask for connectivity to everything they have on their desktop, from their phone.

Furthermore, this mean access for more people'younger people and those in lower income brackets will experience the internet for the first time via mobile phone.

It also means that we use our phone in unique places'places where the desktop won't fit. As a result, communication and information retrieval are primarily found traveling via smartphone.

But mobile means much more than access. The fact that mobile phones are with us all the time, in everyday life means that the kind of information that we need from them is qualitatively different that the information we expect from our desktop experience.

Mobile phones allow us to add a layer of technology onto our physical interactions with the world around us. That sounds abstract, but it's not. For example, using a bus schedule while waiting at the bus station or google maps while navigating a city are examples of overlaying a layer of technology on the physical world.

Thus, mobile information is contextual ' and it is contextual in both directions. It give us information that we can use in the physical world, and it also allows us to add information from the physical world back into the layer of technology. Examples: pothole, light outage, reporting bus is NOT on schedule, Waze vs Google Maps

This is VERY different from how people use desktop computers.

SO, what does that mean for us?

How can we use the layer of context added by mobile phones to improve citizen communication and service? Additionally, how can we structure this data to relieve workload and set us up for success?

There are three areas that our city partners are using mobile to improve service and lower cost.

  1. Citizen engagement ' more engagement and better engagement (remember, context)
  2. Self Serve Information ' again, context ' how do we set up self serve resources and get out of the way?
  3. Open Data ' how do we make this info available to the community?