Monday, August 12, 2013

Making Progress with Mobile

Although we still have a lot of work to do to enable the mobile citizen, we are making progress.  Earlier this year, the Utah Department of Technology Services release a mobile strategy for the state. The strategy is focused around two objectives:

  1. Increasing the productivity and effectiveness of the State's mobile workforce through efficient provisioning and technical support. 
  2.  Ensuring that highly mobile Utah citizens are able to access and utilize the State's online services and information regardless of the platform they choose to utilize.
While we are working to make more of the domain accessible to mobile users, we are also trying to improve its accessibility for the disabled.  With this in mind, we started a tracking document where we have all the department websites and we have begun testing for mobility and accessibility.  We are making progress in both areas by reducing the number of accessibility errors and now increasing the number of sub-domains that are using responsive or mobile-friendly design.

The Utah Travel website (shown at the right) managed by the Utah Tourism Office is a good example of a site that uses a mobile-friendly design.  As a service that is frequently accessed by mobile users traveling throughout the state, Travel has designed the mobile interface with large icons that make it easy to navigate through their services.  In 2013, during the time we have been tracking department-level websites, the number of sites with mobile-friendly or responsive design has increased from 11% to 32%.

The Department of Heritage and Arts just updated their site last month with an entirely new responsive design. Their new site uses large banners and buttons that are easily navigated from a small mobile device.  All of their Divisions are also using the responsive design, including State History, the Utah State Library, Arts and Museums, Multicultural Affairs and Indian Affairs.  As we push responsive design principles deeper into our domain, I expect to see the number of unique visitors continue to climb with the fast growing segment of our population using mobile devices as a primary way of accessing the web.

We are also trying to make more of our online services useful to this mobile population.  Several years ago, we implemented a universal framework which made it easier to publish new services using a standard design. The Licensee Lookup service shown on the left is using the universal framework.  The interface is very simple for the mobile user.  

Over the past couple of years, we have made dozens of services available to mobile users using the universal framework.  These are in addition to the apps found in our mobile app library.

One of the major focuses now under the direction of Utah CIO, Mark VanOrden is to help improve the efficiency of government workers through the use of mobile technologies.  Dozens of new ideas are being reviewed and discussed that involve ways to improve government efficiency.  As they are rolled out, more workers will be able to file reports and access information from mobile devices.  One agency, which performs regular surveys that required them to gather information and photographs, then compile it into a report back in their office is now using tablets and reports time savings of over 3 hours a day in this process.

We are working to apply the steps mentioned by Bill Eggers to government processes around the state and expect to see some great results.

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