The Sacramento County Department of Environmental Management and IT group developed a food inspection app for smartphones. Refreshed once a day, the underlying data pertains to all bars, grocers, restaurants, convenience stores, cafeterias and other food facilities in the county.

Why the Government Must Embrace Mobile Apps

Sacramento County, Calif., engages constituents with food inspection and polling locator apps.

Today, 90 percent of mobile phone subscribers in the United States and Europe have a smartphone, and more than 10 percent of all website hits and page views come from a mobile device, according to research gathered by mobiThinking, an online resource for mobile marketers.

As a growing number of users view data exclusively through handheld mobile devices, governments must change the way they provide information and services to constituents.

No longer can we assume people are accessing our information and services at home on a PC. Now they're on the move, carrying sophisticated technology and expecting that whatever they want to do, there's an app for that. It's not just apps, either —users also demand websites that are optimized for mobile devices.

Food Safety Status on the Go

The Sacramento County Department of Technology created a mobile portal and worked with the Environmental Management Department to develop a food inspection app for iPhones and Android devices. The first of its kind by local government, this app was recognized this year with an award from the National Association of Counties.

Our app enables the public to easily learn the status of a retail food facility's health inspection compliance, including maps and complete inspection reports. An interactive map tied to the mobile user's current location displays color-coded food inspection status for county food retailers — green for "pass," yellow for "conditional pass" and red for "closed."

The app also displays a pop-up balloon with the most recent inspection date and links to the most recent inspection report, more inspection history and nearby food facilities. The data is also available in a list format with the facilities closest to the user's current location appearing first.

31% Increase in visits to by mobile devices in the past year

Inspired by the food inspection app, the Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections Department then launched a mobile app that shows the user's current location and closest polling places, or enables them to search by address. Data is available 30 days prior to each election. The department offers the same capabilities through its traditional website too.

What Mobile Means for Governments

Constituents now carry us in the palm of their hand. Mobile websites and mobile apps are no longer the future of engaging constituents; they're the present. As government entities, we house tremendous amounts of data, so why not divvy it up in the format residents prefer? Governments must make it a priority to adapt to the huge popularity of small devices.

Download our Mobile Strategies for Government whitepaper for more information.

Sep 05 2012