The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently released the first version of their “Child ID” mobile phone application last Friday. It’s main mission is to allow parents a way to have a ready-made biometric descriptions to submit to law enforcement in the event that a child goes missing. Currently, the Child ID app is only offered for iPhone users, but parents who just bought a Samsung 4G Android phone or another state-of-the-art non-Apple device should be happy to know that the FBI expects to release an identical app for other mobile OS’s. The FBI hopes to utilize mobile phone technology to streamline the notoriously cumbersome missing child reporting process.
This app comes on the heels of a series of other mobile-phone based programs the U.S. Government has released over the years since the advent of the smartphone. The EPA lets citizens stay informed about the air quality of your GPS coordinates. Product recalls can be monitored with a government-made recall app. The Department of Labor has made an app for workers to keep track of their hours worked and pay allowing them to easily see if employers owe more than they’re providing. These are just a few of nearly 60 apps the government grants citizens to use free of charge (if you don’t count your taxes.)
For one reason or another, however, there is no cross-platform unification of each and every app. You’d think that for the benefit of all citizens with smartphones the government would make sure that every app they provide can be used on either iOS, Android, or otherwise. But the truth is that it seems that every department and agency is left to their own devices so to speak when it comes to providing the public with apps. Some are compatible with multiple systems, others are exclusively for Android while the majority are exclusively for the iPhone.
In order for the government to provide the public with mobile phone programs that are meant to help improve the lives of the citizenry, they have to make sure these apps are available to everyone who has a smartphone. Otherwise they’re sending mixed signals and are wasting their money with something that only gets a small percentage of the use it should be getting. While the government is no stranger to wasting money, the simple fact is that this is such an interactive provision for the public that it should be easy for people to demand better regulation when it comes to the federal release of worthwhile mobile phone apps.
In the meantime you should visit USA.gov to see which apps can be downloaded to your phone. I’m sure you’ll find one you’ll consider useful. Let’s just hope it works on your phone.