Category Archives: Government

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Mobile app developed: A New Age of Government?

An exciting new mobile app development in democratic accountability.

An exciting new mobile app development in democratic accountability.

The Indian State of Andhra Pradesh has developed a mobile app to ask people what they think, about a range of government proposals, services and projects.

The issue is Andhra Pradesh is effectively a new state. The old Andhra Pradesh was split in two, giving birth to the new state of Telangana. The old state capital Hyderabad is in the new state of Telangana – so Andhra Pradesh has a tremendous amount of ground to cover, they have been given 10 years to build a new state capital.

The Andhra Pradesh government’s response is a bold new experiment in mobile app technology – a mobile app, to give the ordinary people of tech savvy Andhra Pradesh an unprecedented level of oversight, over the progress of their new government.

According to Asia Pacific Future Gov

Indian state Andhra Pradesh has launched a new mobile app for citizens to suggest ideas on upcoming projects and give feedback on government services, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu announced.

The app, known as AP Speaks, lists broad areas that the government wants to improve such as education, electricity and tourism. A short description appears alongside each.

People can submit their ideas or like an idea shared by another person under these topics.

The government has also asked them to rate the state’s electricity service as good, bad or average.

Andhra Pradesh has tied up with Facebook and Indian telecommunications company Reliance Communications to make sure people without internet access can use the app as well. Customers of Reliance will be able to access AP Speaks without data charges through the Android app or

Read More…

Mobile apps have repeatedly demonstrated their utility for streamlining communication. If the Andhra Pradesh mobile app feedback experiment yields positive results, other governments will follow their example – potentially opening a vast new market for mobile app developers, and an exciting new age of more accountable, more responsive government.

If you are considering a new communication mobile app, an app for enhancing client feedback, please contact me.

Claim: Queensland needs a “Silicon Reef”

Palmer United - Raising the stakes in the Australian High Tech Debate

Palmer United – Raising the stakes in the Australian High Tech Debate

The Palmer United Party has upped the stakes in the Queensland State Election, by claiming that the state government should be doing more to “embrace” innovation and startup companies, to help improve the Queensland economy.

According to Startupsmart:

Alan Birrell, who is running for the seat of Townsville, told StartupSmart the LNP’s vision of a four-pillar economy based on agriculture, construction, resources and tourism was missing a crucial fifth pillar: technology.

“We need to add a fifth dimension to our economy and from an innovation base we can put money in the right places and give it to the right people with the right ideas which helps create jobs,” he says.

“I don’t think it’s an easy task, but it is a worthwhile task.”

Birrell says Queensland’s Parliament could do with more entrepreneurial thinkers instead of politicians with a strict ideological view.

“We have far too many politicians who are professional politicians and hence they are very willing to toe the party line rather than be out there with original ideas and concepts,” he says.

As principle of a startup, I’m a little wary of governments intervening too heavily in the market. I don’t have time to navigate the thickets of red tape, to secure a government handout – as Britain has discovered, too much well meaning targeted intervention tends to fill the pockets of organisations which are focussed on milking the system, rather than creating real value.

As The Register reports;

Silicon Roundabout is, essentially, a prank on the media. Let’s see who’s involved. You’ve got what I call faux capitalists – people who want to be thought of as capitalists but are terrified of risk and don’t back ambitious high-risk ventures. You’ve got entrepreneurs who can’t run a business. And you’ve got programmers who can’t program. All looking for each other. Then there’s a vast army of hangers-on: mentors, facilitators. And they all socialise endlessly, instead of doing any work. The socialising is work.

This does not create wealth.

As soon as we start to “un-fetishise” this myth of two guys in a garage, and start to think more seriously about, say, payment platforms or credit systems that make buying stuff nice and easy, as easy as real life, then we’ll create markets. You won’t get this from Shoreditch.

The measures which would really help in my opinion are cost reductions. The great thing about reducing costs is you don’t have to do any bureaucrat chasing to secure the benefit, you just have to get your head down and run your business.

For example, Tax is high in Australia, compared to other Asian startup centres such as Hong Kong and Singapore. This puts startups in Australia at a critical disadvantage during the early years, when they aren’t really making much money, but are paying what they make to the government.

The high cost of Electricity is an issue (Australia has one of the highest electricity rates in the Western World) if you are running a lot of high tech electronic equipment – especially if you also need to run an air conditioner, to keep it all from overheating.

The high cost of fuel is also a critical issue. While fuel has come down in price recently, a substantial cut to government taxes on fuel would make a significant difference to business activity. Even in this high tech age, I spend a lot of my time driving to conferences to network and meet potential clients.

It remains to be seen whether anything concrete will come of well meaning by often misguided attempts to create a better environment for startups and innovators – but at least politicians are thinking about it, and appear to recognise that fostering business is a priority for kickstarting domestic economic growth.

Could Android Apps replace Microsoft Windows?

Today The Register, a major tech website, published news that China has discontinued its efforts to develop a Red Chinese rival to Microsoft Windows, Red Flag Linux. China loves Microsoft Windows XP so much, even Chinese government departments refused to give up their Microsoft Desktops, despite widely publicised suspicions that the USA uses hidden back doors in Microsoft Windows to spy on rivals.

The Chinese alternative to Microsoft was to be based on Linux. Linux is a terrific operating system. Linux is the dominant operating system in much of the server market. I use Linux extensively – when I am creating web technology server components for iPhone Apps and Android Apps.

However Linux never really made it as a desktop operating system. Outside of a few geeks, most people use Microsoft Windows or Mac computers. Linux never attracted a critical mass of desktop applications.

Or did it? There is a branch of Linux which did make it to the mass market – Android OS. All Android phones run Linux under the hood.

But Android is a phone operating system – what has this got to do with desktop computers?

It turns out that efforts are already underway to create a desktop version of Android. Android apps are very adaptable – they are designed to work on a wide variety of devices, with a huge variation in screen size. So making an app work on a desktop is not a big stretch – a small desktop monitor has a similar screen size to the largest Android pad devices.

Whether Android makes it on the desktop is still an open question – but unlike all previous attempts to displace Microsoft Windows, Android already has a very large, loyal following. Many people use Microsoft on their desktop, but have an Android phone, and love their Android Apps. The battle between Android and Microsoft for ownership of the desktop promises to be a popcorn event, rather than yet another Microsoft slam dunk.

So my advice to China – if you want independence from Windows, and the confidence of being able to examine and inspect every line of the code you are using, the solution may be right under your nose. Take a look at Android.

Should All School Children be Taught to Code?

Governments across the world are slowly waking up to the fact there aren’t going to be many jobs in the future which don’t involve a computer, or, given the pace of Robotics research, there might not be many jobs at all.

In response to this looming crisis, the UK government has decided to introduce mandatory software development lessons for all school children.

The problem is twofold:-

  1. Most people find software development intensely boring. The reason we are geeks, is normal people just don’t find fiddling with bits of code interesting. If you aren’t the kind of kid who enjoys spending hours building sophisticated model train sets or model airplanes, doing complex puzzles, or creating your own board game, you just haven’t got the mindset to code – it is not about whether you are smart, it is just that you will fall asleep from boredom before you learn anything useful.
  2. Governments and their advisors have no real idea what software development is, and have no idea how to teach it to others.

The tragedy is this desire to teach kids coding skills is motivated by a genuine concern for the future welfare and job prospects of the nation’s school children.

I have a few suggestions for politicians who want to help kids develop coding skills

  1. For pity’s sake, do not make the software lessons mandatory. By all means *expose* kids to a few coding classes, but allow the 99% of kids who find software coding intensely boring to drop out. Don’t poison their desire to be educated by adding what for most of them will be an unendurably monotonous subject to the list of courses they have to pass.
  2. Teach the handful of kids who are interested coding skills which are likely to be relevant – teach them to build Android Apps and iPhone apps.

    I am not suggesting iPhone apps or Android apps and phone handsets in 20 years time will be the same as they are today – they will be radically different. But at least start kids on the right path.

  3. Make it interesting – get kids to code and own apps which might actually make money. If a 14 yr old kid can create a world beating iPhone app, then anyone can – the very next app your kid codes could make millions of dollars.

My suggestions might not solve the looming future jobs crisis – but forcing kids to study something they can’t stand is not a solution either. In any case, there is reason to be optimistic about the future – many issues which in the past were seen as an urgent crisis rapidly solved themselves. Human ingenuity will solve this problem, just as it solved all the other problems we have ever encountered.

I refer interested readers to Scott Adam’s law of slow moving disasters.

If you would like to know more about how to develop Android apps and iPhone apps, or would like to discuss an app idea, please contact Eric Worrall.

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