Presidential directive on development of mobile apps includes healthcare

A directive issued May 23 by President Barack Obama aims to accelerate efforts to make new and useful services available to consumers on their mobile devices within the next 12 months. The White House commitment pertains to major federal agencies including the Department of Health & Human Services.

In conjunction with the White House initiative, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park is launching a Presidential Innovation Fellows program. The effort will bring in top innovators from outside government for focused “tours of duty” to work with federal innovators on new projects. The fellows will take on projects aimed at making consumer-friendly government information about health, education, energy, safety and personal finance more accessible to all Americans.

“The release of government weather and GPS data has already led to countless entrepreneurial innovations, which have made life easier for America’s families while also creating multi-billion-dollar industries and generating jobs.” Park said. “The initiatives we’re launching today will make government data resources even more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs who can turn these data into services that can help Americans find the best doctor for their family, choose the college that offers them the most value for their money, save money on their energy bills through smarter shopping and much more.”

The administration intends to make large amounts of government data more easily accessible to the public to spur entrepreneurs to develop innovative new services and mobile applications. The idea is to create new opportunities, businesses and jobs in the process.

The president’s directive is part of a larger digital strategy being implemented by the administration -- a roadmap that will guide the federal government as it utiltizes new sources of digital information. 

“Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere and on any device,” said Obama in a news release. “By making important services accessible from your phone and sharing government data with entrepreneurs, we are giving hard-working families and businesses tools that will help them succeed.”  

It is now anticipated that by 2015 more people will be accessing the Internet via mobile phones than via traditional desktop computers. The administration announced digital strategies intended to have the government make the mobile shift along with the population.

The Open Data Initiatives program will speed and expand the release of government data in machine-readable form in realms ranging from healthcare to education to energy to public safety, and will actively stimulate the creation of new apps and services by entrepreneurs that will improve the lives of Americans in many tangible ways and create jobs of the future, officials said.

By next spring, the American people will be able to access dozens of additional government services on their mobile phones for the first time, Obama said.

Obama has tasked U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel with releasing a comprehensive roadmap to help the federal government re-think digital services.
“We’re living in an increasingly mobile world and it is critical that the federal government keep up with the way the American people do business,” said VanRoekel. "Already, families can use government apps to check the wait time at the airport, get access to critical veteran services and check the status of their tax return. Today’s directive will accelerate our drive to make key services easily accessible to more Americans than ever.”