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10 Advantages and disadvantages of apps for public administrations

No need to walk around Google Store or App Store to see that we have a world of possibilities ready to download on our mobile. And the public administrations? Are we taking advantage of this new technology and incorporating it to the attention we offer our users?


From the experience of the development and implementation of this mobile application I have collected some advantages and disadvantages that the adoption of this technology has for public administrations.

ADVANTAGES of the use of apps for public administrations:

  1. Responsive adaptation . Many websites of public administrations are very old and are developed with a technology (flash) that although at the time it was good now it is necessary to adjust to responsive design  , that is, that can be viewed on mobile devices. Budgetary restrictions and the fact that digital presence is still not considered a priority in public administrations means that the development of new responsive websites does not go at the rate that would be advisable. Having an app that allows to have presence in mobile devices can fill this gap until you have a fully adapted website.
  2. Take the administration in your pocket . If with internet access we managed to do paperwork with the public administrations 24-7-365, now we have also overcome the barrier of ubiquity since taking the computer to the bus stop or waiting to make the purchase is not very practical, yes it is able to request an appointment or renew our demand for employment at any time and place through our mobile.
  3. New communication channel . They allow us to be in contact with citizens quickly, directly and immediately through alert systems or by providing useful information through these applications.
  4. They improve the image of public administration  by being aware of the need to provide those tools that can make the relationship between citizens and public administration easier and easier through these new technologies.
  5. An opportunity to offer a better service to the citizen. If a procedure can be carried out by the citizen quickly and easily without having to travel, it is that this procedure is merely bureaucratic. The saving of time and money for the user must be accompanied by a change in the care offered for those procedures in which it is necessary for the citizen to go, and where we can offer services with an added value that justify their displacement. To give an example, if the citizen can renew the demand for employment in 2 minutes from his mobile, will allow the technicians in charge of this procedure in the office can dedicate it to guide people in a personalized way in the search for employment according to their professional profile and your personal circumstances. That is to say,
  6. Direct communication Administration-CitizenDepending on the purpose for which the application was created, you can promote a new channel for the citizen, in which you can communicate directly with the Administration, as in the case of the “Avisos Madrid” app, which offers the user the possibility to report incidents that occur in the city, with the possibility of attaching a photograph to the incident and taking the location of the incident directly from the place where the mobile device is located, as well as following the procedure is giving this incidence.We also find other types of applications such as “Health Respond” that enables all citizens of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, the possibility of requesting appointments, consult the medical services available in an area, and even make a declaration of vital will anticipated .
  7. Streamline procedures from the phoneThanks to this impulse that is being carried out by the Administration, in order to speed up and computerize all types of procedures, an application “Cl @ ve PIN” has been launched that allows certain types of procedures to be carried out through the application, it is true that the process of verification in it is a bit prolonged in time, but once you have access to it, you can submit statements electronically, consult communications and notifications, obtain the NRC to make a payment …
  8. The notification system, an allyOne of the advantages of mobile applications is the ability to send instant notifications to users who have downloaded the app and enabled the sending of notifications. In this way, you can send a notification, on those matters of interest, that will appear on the user’s main screen and always have the citizen informed at all times.

DISADVANTAGES of the use of apps for public administrations:

More than disadvantages I would call them problems or barriers that we find when it comes to incorporating a mobile application in a public administration.

  1. The apps are not web pages on the mobile . We must be clear that a mobile application is not an adaptation of the web to the mobile, that is something else, the mobile application must collect that information, procedures or services most used by citizens to put them on their mobile in the simplest way possible . For this it is necessary to know what we want citizens to use the app for.
  2. Apps saturation. According to the Ditrendia report that we have seen before, the average of apps that we have downloaded on our phones is 13.8, that is, our app will have to compete with many others to find their place. Citizens are not going to download an application because they will, as long as it is useful for them and that this utility is maintained over time. If I take the bus every day, download the app from the transport company where I can have the timetables in real time buses will be useful, but if an administration only offers to request an appointment for a single procedure, I do not download it , if I need it, I look for it on the web and that’s it. We have an average of 13 apps on our phones; public administrations will have to make room between them
  3. Choose the technology in which we will develop it.  We find native applications (iOS, Android …), mobile web applications (developed in HTML, CSS and Javascript and operate independent of the operating system) and hybrid applications that mix the previous two and have the characteristics of a native application but which must be to update them every so often, is the case, for example, of Facebook. The costs of programming and maintenance are different in each case and we have to know which one best suits our needs, size and budget. As data point out that the Android operating system is the system used in a majority with a degree of penetration of 84%.
  4. Outsourced services . In most cases, even if the public administration has a computer department, these services are able to take on the design and development of a mobile application and we must turn to external companies.
  5. The update of the application: A problemNot only can be satisfied with the launch of the application, but that application has to have a maintenance, and what is more important, adapt to the new screens that are applied in the marking, since each time they are introduced different types of screen, so you will have to check if the application is seen correctly in the vast majority of formats, as well as if it is compatible with the latest operating systems.Well, an application that does not take care of this type of maintenance will not be offering the quality service that was expected to be achieved by launching the application in the different stores, but it will generate a totally opposite feeling in the user who has tried to carry out some procedure through said application, and has not been able to perform any procedure for any incompatibility, either with the screen resolution or with the operating system.In short, the use of mobile applications makes access to information more accessible and instantaneous, facilitating many procedures from anywhere, although in order to achieve these benefits, it will be necessary, not only to create an application with some objectives clear, but also will have to take care of the maintenance of this application, and perform an active listening around the users who have used it, the best “testers” in this type of case.

As we can see, the disadvantages are important, above all because of the economic cost of them, which, however, will depend to a large extent on the services we want to offer or on the procedures we allow to do through them. It is not the same or has the same complexity an app in which only information is provided to another in which you can perform procedures that require identification through ID.

However, apps are called to become one more element of the attention and service that public administrations offer to citizens.


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