Are your apps clicking with your citizens?

Fri, 2015-05-29 06:00 -- SCC Staff

Most agree smartphone apps can help people in a host of ways and even build stronger connections between citizens and their government. But they do require an investment.

A new report from Council Lead Partner IBM can help give you an idea whether that investment may be worth it -- or provide inspiration to help you craft an app that will truly matter to your community. The report identifies the apps that people find most useful, and it’s broken down by country and age group.

Striking differences between groups
While it seems like we live in a world economy, the report finds some striking differences in the needs of the various groups. For instance, the survey finds weather apps are considered the most useful by a wide margin of residents in the U.S. and Canada, and by a slimmer margin in the United Kingdom. In India, however, virtually every other app is considered more useful.

Conversely, Americans seem to have little interest in doing financial transactions on their smartphones, according to the report. Yet those apps are considered useful almost everywhere else.

One of the more surprising findings is the age of people who are interested in financial apps. Young adults are willing to use them -- which isn’t a surprise -- but seniors actually find them even more useful. It’s people who are considered middle age who have little or no interest in them.

Social components become less important with age. In fact, there’s a precipitous drop in all social categories that starts around age 35. This seems to be true of the entire spectrum of apps, including what we think of as more traditional social media applications, messaging services and video chat.

Common themes
Regardless of age or location, people want apps that help them get around. These are the second most popular apps in most countries, although they rank only fourth in Canada. There’s little deviation by age.

Travel, entertainment and shopping apps are also considered desirable by a wide range of users, providing a strong case for city-wide apps that help people find things to do and places to go.

Planning your app
The Council has several resources that can be useful to cities that are planning their first -- or next -- app.

The Smart Cities Apps Gallery can serve as inspiration once you’ve identified themes that are important to your residents. The gallery includes apps that were built from scratch by cities, as well as solutions from third-party providers. It’s free to browse for Council members.

Many smart cities apps are built to give citizens easier and more useful access to data that the city collects and manages.  To streamline development and to make the data as useful as possible, it’s important that cities implement an open data strategy. The Council’s free Smart Cities Open Data Guide highlights best practices, while delivering tools and resources to help cities start their own open data initiatives.

More resources …
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