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Government Mobile Apps

Social Science, Philosophy and Religion Department, Central Library,
Want to get away? Looking for a new place to live? Check out the Census Bureau’s dwellr app for Android and Apple smart devices (http://apps.usa.gov/dwellr.shtml). Find out the top twenty-five places to live in the United States based upon your lifestyle preferences, such as living in a big city or out in the country; age of residents; method of commute to work; median income and housing costs. The results are derived from statistical tables from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. This is but one example of how the U.S. government is making information and statistics available to the public in a user-friendly way.
 
As more people access information anywhere and anytime from their smart phone, tablet or laptop, the federal government’s Digital Government Strategy, released in May 2012, asked each federal agency to design their website and disseminate information so that it works well on different devices, such as a computer monitor, laptop screen or mobile device. Additionally, each federal agency was asked to release more of their datasets to the public, so that developers could create useful apps based on the data. One example is the Congress app. One can follow the legislative actions of their Senator or Representative, read their biography, and find contact information. 
 
The Mobile Apps Gallery for the federal government is here. Some of the apps are “mobile apps” which are viewed in your browser. These can be bookmarked for future reference. Other apps are designed for specific devices such as Android, Apple or Blackberry. These must be downloaded and installed on one’s mobile device. In the Mobile Apps Gallery, one can find noteworthy federal government apps such as:
 
  • FBI.gov mobile. This is a mobile app that links to the FBI’s mobile-friendly website, containing most of the content of the main FBI website. 
  • Eldercare Locator. A mobile app provided by the Department of Health and Human Services to connect older adults and their families with services in their community.
  • IDEAL USA currency identifier. Intended for visually-impaired people.
  • BARD Mobile. This app provides access to Braille and talking books directly from the National Library Service’s (NLS) Braille and Audio Reading Download. Requires registration with a Braille and talking book library in the NLS network.
  • NASA. Images, videos, current mission information and much more.
  • Alternative fuel station locator
  • Ladder Safety. For those who want to make sure that they have properly positioned their extension ladder.
For apps from the state of California, visit here. Many of these apps are mobile apps, such as those by CalRecycle, ArtsCouncil California, and California’s Student Aid Commission. The California Department of Veterans Affairs offers a downloadable app for Android and Apple that allows the user to locate services, benefits and assistance available to California residents who have served in the military. For apps from other states, see here
 
Locally, the Los Angeles city’s 311 app allows users to find the nearest city agency (e.g. parks, libraries, cooling centers, public pools) and submit service requests (e.g. pothole repair, graffiti removal, streetlight outage). One can also report a streetlight outage using the Bureau of Street Lighting’s map-based LA Lights app  Simply find the location of the troublesome street light on the map, zoom in the map until each streetlight icon is visible, then click on the problem streetlight icon to report the outage.
 
Last but not least, the Los Angeles Public Library offers two apps. The first, titled LAPL To Go has been available for a while, but is worth mentioning again for new library users. It allows mobile device users to search the library’s catalog, place holds, renew books, find library locations and search the photo collection. The other app, titled ARchive LAPL, is available only for iPhone or iPad. It provides an “augmented reality” tour of the Central Library. As you follow the tour around Central Library, viewing various visual markers through the camera lens of the iPhone/iPad triggers additional content to appear. Learn more about the arson fire at Central Library, and unlock added content about Central Library’s special collections.

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