Today, telecommunications have invaded our lives in every possible area. Having a computer or smart device has become, for the vast majority, a necessity to perform. And in the public administration it has not been the exception, since it has become necessary to adopt technologies to expedite governance and contact with the people, who should be the biggest beneficiaries in governments.
There are examples of local governments that have done a great job on issues of digitalization of public administration. To talk about examples in Costa Rica, there is an app called “CR Public Security” that, among other functions, allows to report crimes of different types in real time. Apps of this type have already been implemented in countries like Spain and Uruguay. Another clear example is the app launched by the municipality of the capital of Costa Rica, San José, for parking meters, which allows the payment and management of parking spaces, even finding a place to park. The application is called "e-parkcr". Speaking of digital public administration itself, the municipality of Curridabat has done an excellent job with the app “I Mayor”, which allows to have a more effective communication channel between citizens and local government, allowing citizens, among other things, make garbage reports in inappropriate places, report gaps in the streets and other situations of real needs of citizens, in real time, and follow up on the management of their complaints. Although it is in a phase of tests and improvements, people can register for the program from the site http://innovacion.curridabat.go.cr/project/yo-alcalde/ to later download and try it.
The examples are encouraging, but what should a public management app have to be successful? Here are some points that could be taken into account:
- The application must have real utility for citizens: Has it ever happened to you that you install an application, and then uninstall it because you didn't like its usability or utility? That happens with many applications today, since they are not so useful that people want to always have it installed on their smart device and use it frequently. This happens, for example, with applications that only redirect the user to a web page to do the management or function they were looking for. When developing an app for this type of purpose, it is necessary to take into account that it must have really useful functions for the citizen, and that they are quick and easy to access or manage. For this, we must take into account the needs of our people and the socio-economic context of the end users.
- You must have only the necessary information: Sometimes an app tends to load with a lot of information that is not relevant to the user, soiling the view and experience. Many times it is preferable that the information of the Administration that you want to have on the website stays in it, and dedicate the app to really practical tasks, and give the best possible use to the notifications that an app can provide to the user. It is also not nice to open the smartphone every three minutes to see a notification with information that does not interest Do not you think?
- It must be an approach between the government and the people: In the examples mentioned, people are always looking for more interaction with the authorities. The app must be a bridge, and must try, in all circumstances, to eliminate walls that have been established between citizens and the completion of the procedures they want to do.
- Include the procedures that are done in the local government facilities as functions, so that the citizen should not waste time with rows in place. We must think that many citizens work at the same times as local governments, and therefore leave at the same time. That is why many times it is difficult for a citizen to take time to do procedures that are relatively simple.
- Make the citizen feel part of the solution: In the case of complaints or improvements in aspects of the municipality, the citizen must feel that it is taken into account, and that it is part of the solution. In the end, solving problems in the municipality is the reason for being an app.
- Take care of the design: An app with a good design is an app that is much more likely to be successful. You have to take care of the minimalism and the functions that are really required, the usability, think about the accessibility and the inclusion of all those who want to use it, including having a good logo, so that it is attractive in the store.
- Take care of other important aspects in app design: issues such as usability, innovation, small details, colors, notifications, speed, minimalism, speed at the time of registration, think of fewer buttons ... all that adds up, and not taking it into account, subtracts. So you have to take care of every detail, and not belittle anything in terms of quality. What is expected is that the app is widely used by citizens, so you have to ensure excellence.
These are just some aspects that must be achieved so that a project such as an app for public management is a success for the growth of our local governments. And you, what do you think an app should have to be successful in your local government?
Por Diego Estrada Mora.