Disruptathon promotes Mobile Gov 2.0 usage

Wednesday - 5/26/2010, 5:18pm EDT

Pete Erickson, director of innovation, Disruptathon

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Mobile technologies are really changing the relationship between government and citizens.

Technology exists, for example, that allows you to report potholes you see during your commute to local governments almost instantly.

There's a lot more going on, and some of it is downright disruptive.

That's where the Disruptathon comes in.

It's an event happening tonight that will look at the relationship between Gov 2.0 and mobile devices.

Pete Erickson is the director of innovation for the Disruptathon and explains that the two part program will feature four cutting edge innovators and a panel discussion about the role smart phones are playing in information gathering and sharing.

"Disruptathon is a forum to identify and support innovation and disruption. There is a need to increase our knowledge of what disruption is, and Disruptathon provides a platform to do just that."

Mobile Gov 2.0, he says, is a new platform that could do great things if used correctly.

"Governments get measured by how well they reach and service citizens, and mobile platforms provide a great opportunity to build on. . . . They're acting very quickly with regards to adopting smart phones and applications. Governments are supposed to be risk-adverse, because there's a lot of information flow happening. But what people are finding is that if good policies on managing devices and information are put in place, the opportunities become endless for fixing potholes or providing access to services or just general information about what the government's doing with your money."

Gov 2.0 is about embracing social media and new technology to work more efficiently. Mobile Gov 2.0 is just taking that next step.

But this is where issues arise. Often, the more mobile information is, the less secure it becomes, which is always a concern for government.

"Security and privacy issues on mobile are a reflection of the same security and privacy issues that exist on our laptops and our PCs. They are going to be overcome through good management and good policy decisions. . . . It is easier said than done, but the opportunities for huge gains in efficiency and big reductions in cost are such that they need to be taken on. Those challenges will be overcome. That's why there are a lot of new players in the market, as well. They see through the lens of mobile and understand how to overcome some of the obstacles that CIOs and others face in this daunting move."

One might think it's the devices themselves, but Erickson says that's not really the case. The iPhone, for example, would be just a fancy, expensive -- well -- phone if not for the apps store.

Since apps.gov is going to launch apps for mobile devices in the near future, as well, Mobile Gov 2.0 is only going to expand.

One only has to look at instances like Apps for the Army, which came up with 53 applications in 75 days. Also, the winners of last year's Apps for Democracy II built an entirely new 311 reporting system in about 3 weeks (and now you really can report those potholes).

"We're seeing all kinds of interesting developments. At the state level, Oklahoma, Utah, Arkansas, Washington and Virginia all have apps that are aimed at helping their citizens do any number of things: find resources, get fishing licenses, locate post offices. There's all kinds of apps out there and governments are really taking advantage of this. The FBI has a 'Most Wanted' app where people share and collect information."

Overall, Erickson says, the U.S. has to stay on top of innovation, and Mobile Gov 2.0 is a way to achieve that.

Follow Disruptathon on Twitter: @disruptathon

Download the Disruptathon app on iTunes.