For cities, educators, healthcare providers, and everyone else who wants to provide assistance to citizens in a cheaper, more efficient way, making a smartphone app available is a common move.
About half of all Americans have smartphones, and all smartphone users keep these devices close at hand. So city managers who want to reach people where they are most likely to pay attention, and who hope to provide information when it’s most useful, are planning to use the affordances of smartphones.
These devices are loaded with appealing attributes: bright, arresting screens; programmable ability to download and run apps; Internet access; digital compasses and gyroscopes; cameras; GPS, allowing for delivery of location-based services and geo-tagging of communications by the device’s user; accelerometers, allowing tilt and gesture-based functionality; microphones; and ambient light sensors. This month, Samsung launched its Galaxy S4, which has a barometer, thermometer, magnetometer, and hygrometer to measure air pressure, temperature, magnetic field strength, and humidity, respectively.