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Home arrow Experts arrow Learon Dalby arrow Expert Feature - Is there an app for that?     

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Expert Feature - Is there an app for that? PDF Print E-mail
Experts - Learon Dalby
Written by Learon Dalby   
18 May 2011

Seems government (in some cases) is rushing into the application world. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s stick with mobile applications.

 Sure there are plenty of instances where innovation occurs through trial and error, but the building and deploying of mobile applications seems to be an area where government is generally wondering around in the dark. Think for just a second- what mobile application could government provide that people (a lot of people) would actually use?

I offer this as a killer mobile application that the government could/should support. No doubt some of you have had the same idea.

The idea gelled for me and likely several others as I listened to, Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA. The basic premise is a mobile app supported on several mobile platforms that (if activated) turns on the mobiles GPS and opens a line of communication directly to authorities. When enabled; pictures, text, tweets, facebook post, etc would be sent directly to authorities. Sound crazy? I believe such an app would be killer for a few reasons:

1) the user would have the power to turn the app on or off as they saw fit
2) authorities would have a framework by which to receive information.

Since the framework would be in place, models could be built that assisted them with capturing and quickly analyzing the messages. This would likely result in better situational awareness. Additionally, geofencing techniques could be used to send messages from authorities to the mobile user based on new information (think weather, chemical spill, wildfire, etc). This ‘open channel’ would be intended to be used as a two way communication. Novel, the authorities would actually communicate back to the provider.

Yes it is a pipe dream and yes I believe it is possible. On the ground information used to update data and feed various decision makers with the same information. Who knows, they might even arrive at similar conclusions. Obviously there are a number of logistical issues to be considered such as who are the authorities and how big or small an event should they pay attention to? FCC is already heading this direction with Next Generation 911. They may not fully realize it, but they are going to want/need a mobile application. The SMMS location standards currently being discussed will only accelerate the entire process.

Learon Dalby serves as the GIS Program Manager for the Arkansas Geographic Information Office (AGIO). He began his career with the AGIO in 2000 where he is responsible for managing a number of statewide programs. You can follow him on Twitter @learondalby

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