July 10, 2009 By Matt Williams
California launched a free application this week for the Apple iPhone that helps users find and contact government offices. The program was developed at no cost in partnership with Symsoft Solutions.
The government services locater utilizes the iPhone's built-in GPS to automatically detect a user's location and the closest government offices. Users can also search by ZIP code even when out of range of Internet connectivity. Plotted buildings include public libraries, department of motor vehicles offices and more.
California isn't alone in climbing aboard the iPhone phenomenon. In recent months, Boston and Utah have released free applications that give iPhone users access to government services. By doing so, those governments are reaching tens of millions of iPhone consumers. Though Apple doesn't release exact sales figures for the iPhone, MarketWatch estimates 10 million to 20 million of them have been sold in the last year.
California's app was made available in conjunction with the announced launch of a new design for the state's Web portal for mobile devices. The application is free to download on that Web site or on the iTunes store.
Earlier this year, Government Technology reviewed the mobile version of all 50 states' Web portals. See a brief review and screenshot of every state.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.