Could Mobile Tech Revolutionize Government?

August 30, 2016 - 2 minutes read

We may not be seeing it in their actions, but at least on paper politicians are starting to come around to the idea of digitalizing government processes. In an age where everything is efficiently available at the push of a button, why should basic functions like taxes still be operating via pen and paper? (Or worse, third-party for-profit softwares designed to maximize profits first, and serve citizens second?) iPhone app developers have an obligation to help “disrupt” government. The questions is, how?

A new book from Bill Eggers of the Center for Government Insights presents some novel solutions to that question, presenting technology as a chance for the US government to “reinvent itself.” In a TechCrunch interview, Eggers argues that some of the biggest problems are simple psychological ones — basically, that it’s difficult for politicians and citizens to even imagine what’s possible.

When we think of “digital government” we tend to think of software that makes life just a little bit easier on the paperwork side. But what about using data to revolutionize human rights issues like the ongoing for-profit prison crisis? Eggers suggests using mobile technology currently available to any New York City iPhone app developer to create flexibility between inmates and officers, making reintegration into society realistic and affordable. Sure, it sounds crazy — but so does the current reality of jailing tens of thousands of minor offenders for decades at a time.

For iPhone app developers, there are two main courses of action. First, making life as efficient as possible for app users, so they’ll begin to expect that level of UX in government services. Second, developers can consult with policymakers directly through tech groups like ACT The App Association.

The real surprise is that in spite of all the tech progress in the private sector, we haven’t seen a massive sea change in expectations for government tech. According to Eggers, and iPhone app developers nationwide, that sea change could be coming very soon.

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