The Data Briefing: Highlights from 300 Federal Mobile Moments

Oct 21, 2015

DigitalGov’s theme this month is mobile moments, which explores the impact of mobile applications in the federal government. For this post, I am examining the more than 300 mobile apps created by the federal government. An updated list of federal mobile apps is on

Business woman stops to use a mobile phone


According to the list, 73 federal organizations have released mobile apps on a wide variety of topics. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has the most mobile apps with 31 releases. The Smithsonian Institution released 15 mobile apps while the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services have 14 mobile apps each.

Most of the apps are informational in that they provide a mobile version of online sites or printed documents. For example, there is the U.S. Capitol Visitor Guide that describes how to book tours and what to expect on your tour of the Capitol. Other mobile apps provide locator services such as the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fueling Station Locator. Some of the mobile apps provide real-time information such as the Transportation Security Administration’s My TSA app which gives updated security line wait times.

U.S. Department of Labor Timesheet App
A random sample of the more interesting mobile apps:

I am especially interested in federal mobile apps that provide mobile learning (“m-learning”). The Library of Congress provides a mobile version of the U.S. Constitution along with an analysis of the various sections. Another Library of Congress m-learning app is Aesop for Children. NASA has the most m-learning apps that use a wide variety of technologies to educate citizens on science and technology topics.

I believe there is a great potential for m-learning apps using federal data. I recently acquired the General Class Amateur Radio license which consists of passing an exam of 35 questions from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC)’s exam pool. Most of my studying was through a mobile app that created practice exams from the official FCC questions. This app demonstrated the value of federal information for m-learning.

The list of more than 300 federal mobile apps is a great snapshot of the various ways mobile apps can serve the important moments of our lives. This list also encourages other agencies to examine their data sources and create vitally-needed mobile apps. 2015 will be seen as the time when mobile Internet use passed traditional Web use. Now is a great time for federal agencies to release more mobile moments for the American public.

Is your agency’s app missing from the Mobile Apps Directory? Join the Great Federal Mobile Product Hunt and learn how you can add it.

Each week, The Data Briefing showcases the latest federal data news and trends.

Dr. William Brantley is the Training Administrator for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Global Intellectual Property Academy. You can find out more about his personal work in open data, analytics, and related topics at All opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the USPTO or GSA.