Australia is slowly shifting to the concept of open and transparent governance that relies on a two-way communication system between the Government and citizens. One of the ways in which councils are engaging more with citizens is through the use of smart phone applications, or “apps” as they are more commonly known.

App is a term used to describe Internet based applications that run on smart phones and other mobiles devices. Apps help users by connecting them to internet services more commonly accessed on desktop or notebook computers, and can make a website mobile phone viewer friendly.

Over one billion of the world’s four billion plus mobiles phones are now smart phones, and at least three billion of all mobile phones are SMS enabled.

By 2014, mobile internet-usage will overtake desktop internet usage and already in 2011 and currently more than 50% of all “local” searches are done from a mobile device.

Councils can benefit from developing mobile apps as they can provide “…social networking platforms, content creation and sharing tools, weblogs and micro blogging tools that allow for a bidirectional information exchange within governmental organizations and government’s interactions with citizens.”

This preliminary report is based upon a desktop search of apps (completed in two stages during Feb-June 2012), some extracts from the draft discussion paper From explanation to engagement: Application and use of social media to enhance local government performance (Anne Howard, ACELG-University of Canberra December 2011) and conclusions of the co-authors.

Every effort has been made to compile lists of all relevant apps (Apple iPhone and Android platforms). However, this area of mobile web applications is moving very quickly. New apps are being released every day, and this includes many specifically for local government.

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