Governments jump on the app-developing craze, spend thousands

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The Independent Online

Governments are joining major corporations in the rush to develop their own mobile phone applications, update web pages and implement social networking strategies.

Government-implemented solutions have recently expanded to encompass viral marketing, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds along with mobile websites, Government-run app stores and downloadable applications - a movement technology bloggers are calling "Gov 2.0."

According to a July 6 article in the BBC's online news website, the British Government has spent "tens of thousands of pounds developing iPhone applications."

The development costs of the UK's Government-approved applications were between £10,000 and £40,000 per app said the BBC.

The projects included the creation of a travel advice application and a jobseekers' tool for the Foreign Office. A Quit Smoking app and a Drink Tracking app are thought to have cost around 10,000 pounds each.

A Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Motoring Masterclass app that would cost tax payers around £40,000 is also in development. The DVLA Motoring Masterclass app could help motorists to renew their car tax, update their personal information and reduce work for DVLA employees.

On July 2 the US Government unveiled a website redesign and a brand new application store containing 18 government services-related mobile applications. The new apps provide consumers with real-time updates on product recalls, help them find alternative fuel for hydrogen, natural gas or electrical cars, and let them check the current waiting times at airport security checkpoints.

A Datamonitor report on "2010 Trends to Watch: Government Technology" revealed that "[t]echnology will play an increasingly critical role in enhancing government business processes, providing constituents with better access to public services and ensuring a more equitable and prosperous society."

The New South Wales Government in Australia is also considering using mobile applications in its strategy to improve access to public transport information in the near future.

Applications - such as SeeClickFix - that let people highlight and report problems in their local neighborhoods to local authorities have become exceedingly popular with both governments and their citizens alike but for the moment, many of these types of applications are not developed (or endorsed) by governments.

The major barrier for wide-spread government adoption of cloud-based technology, mobile apps and content on social networking or blogs is fear over how to keep consumer's data safe.

However, as governments are forced to cut costs, meet the requests of growing populations in an efficient manner, and keep up with the current shift towards cloud-based computing, they will shift towards Gov 2.0 solutions. Consumers can expect to see more Government-approved applications, app stores and social networking solutions appearing in the near future.

In September O'Reilly Media will hold the second Gov 2.0 summit, an event that highlights and showcases innovative social media, open data, mobile applications and cloud computing solutions for governments.
USA Government's app store:
UK's NHS Alcohol Tracker:
UK's NHS Quit Smoking app:
Gov 2.0 Summit: