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“Take It To The Carwash”: Engaging A Mobile Workforce

by on December 13, 2013

We are citizens constantly on the move.  As so much of our communication and information needs increasingly turn mobile, we at the National Archives recognize our role in providing information while engaging citizens and staff in this growing mobile space.

Atiq Warraich, NARA’s new Web and Social Media Director, spoke at the AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association) conference yesterday on Standards-Driven Application Development for Workforce Mobility.  In this panel discussion, Atiq stressed the importance of finding ways to give users the information they need, anytime, anywhere, using any device quickly and efficiently.

Panel discussion with Atiq Warraich
Panel (in the photo, from left to right): Keith Trippie, DHS; Frank Chad Hoeppel, USDA; Jacob Parcell, GSA; Mike Pulsifer, Department of Labor; and Atiq Warraich, NARA.

As government agencies increasingly work together to meet the information needs of citizens, a standard approach toward building mobile apps and engaging in responsive web design is essential. This is where the idea of the “carwash”  methodology will drive us forward, encouraging different agencies to use and share the same framework for mobile app development, and then customize apps to suit their individual needs. This allows multiple apps to be built for lower cost.

In the Office in Innovation, we are always looking at creative ways to serve our customers and increase access to and delivery of records through all forms of media.  One of these initiatives looks toward citizen engagement; harnessing the mobile citizen workforce with initiatives like the Citizen Archivist Dashboard, where we look to knowledgeable users to help us tag records and images in our holdings, transcribe documents for greater accessibility, and contribute to articles.

Additionally, Atiq weighed in on the continuing debate over the benefits of developing native mobile apps versus mobile-optimized websites. While we need to look at the needs of our users and goals of the app on an individual basis, he sees the trend moving more towards mobile web/responsive web design because it is easier, faster, and standardized.  Our focus should be less on the device being used, and more on the content and the best way to share that content with users.

Another focus is on the importance of building API’s. Through API’s, we unleash our data to the public, enabling greater access and more freedom to build apps and reuse our data in new and creative ways.

We look forward to seeing what we can build together!



Paul December 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm

That is an very interesting topic and nice to see such stuff being discussed at the National Archives. I particularly liked what Atiq said about the importance of responsive web design. I think this is where the future is.

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