15 federal government mobile apps for citizens on the move

When USA.gov launched a new look earlier this year, it released a mobile apps showcase to feature federal agency mobile applications to help citizens in their everyday lives. Here’s 15 you shouldn’t be on the move without.

Health and sustainability

Alternative Fuel Locator

Alternative Fuel LocatorVehicles that run on alternative fuels, or a combination of alernatives and gasoline, are becoming more and more popular – just yesterday I saw a new Jetta converted to run on vegetable oil! I’m holding out till I can get an alternative fuel flying car. In the meantime one of the downsides to, say, electric vehicles or those that run on hydrogen, natural gas, propane, you name it, is that they can be difficult to refuel if you’re traveling. We’re not quite at the point where electric vehicle charging stations are as ubiquitous as gas stations!

That’s where this app comes in. Find places to refuel your alternative vehicle – no matter what type of fuel you use – while you’re on the go and perhaps not familiar with the nearest station. It uses familiar, easy-to-navigate Google technology to map fueling stations, list contact information and business hours, and provide detailed driving directions and an instant phone connection.

Now you’re free to take to the open road in your alternative fuel vehicle!


EPA Mobile Web

EPA Mobile WebWhat really caught my eye with this app was the easy access to “Greenversations” – which is the EPA’s blog. But the mobile capabilities are nice to have when needing easy access to details and news about our environment.

Though the details here are probably nothing a quick Google search couldn’t turn up, sometimes it’s nice to skip the middle man so to speak, especially if you know what you’re looking for!


Fuel Economy.gov

Fuel Economy.govSometimes it’s discouraging to know just how much of a carbon footprint you’re leaving behind. But it’s necessary to educate yourself about what your contributing so you can know what to do about it. This app helps you figure out just that – as it specifically pertains to your vehicle. The results might be cringe-worthy but the knowledge can help you take the steps to rectify what ever earth not-so-friendly habits you’ve picked up.

This is an especially good resource when looking to purchase a new car as you can easily asses what type of fuel economy, fuel costs, annual petroleum use, and the carbon footprint of your possible vehicle.


BMI Calculator

BMI CalculatorIt’s no secret that Americans are getting more and more obese. But this app helps prove that knowledge is power! It’s one of the most popular tools on the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Web site and provides a way for users to quickly and relatively easily get the information on their Body Mass Index (BMI) – is a reliable indicator of total body fat, which is related to the risk of disease and death.

In addition to that, the app provides links to healthy weight resources on the NHLBI Web site. So once you have the knowledge, you can actually do something about it. To be honest, I’m not sure I want the knowledge about my detailed BMI, but at least once I know what’s going on I can find healthy ways to address any problems that might be associated with my discovery!


My Food-ipedia

My Food-ipediaHere’s a conundrum: America is fast become an obese nation – yet many of us aren’t getting enough of the recommended food groups our bodies need. This mobile site helps you find nutrition information for just about every type of food you could consume! Cataloging the contents, calories, ingredients and so forth of over one thousand foods, this site gives you quick access to calorie amounts, contribution of a food to the five food groups, and number of “extra” calories in a fod from solid fats, added sugars, and alcohol.

It makes it easier to start of your journey toward healthy living by providing access to basic nutritional information. And if you’re already on the healthy living journey, the site can be useful for one-off inquiries about foods you’re about to eat or buy.


UV Index

UV IndexI often mistakenly assume that since I live in an often-foggy city like San Francisco I don’t have to worry as much about my sun exposure. Of course that’s a faulty notion and one that this site will seek to disabuse you of!

Simply enter your city or zip and the site will tell you how strong the sun will be in your area, what the index means how to protect yourself and so forth. I happened to check it today and it was a good thing I did – normally-foggy San Francisco had a UV index of nine today which is only one notch down from extreme exposure! Who would’ve thought?!

It’s especially useful as a mobile app so you know how much you need to cover up before heading out for your day.


General government

White House App

White House AppOne of the things the Obama administration vowed to do was create more governmental transperancy within the White House, and you can’t say they aren’t trying! In case Facebook notifications, Twitter updates and email alerts weren’t enough, you can access this app for the latest news from the blog and newsroom, featured videos and photos, and live video streaming of White House events with President Barack Obama.


USA.gov Mobile

USA.gov MobileThis mobile site makes it easy to access the important governmental information you’re looking for. Some mobile sites are tricky to navigate or make it difficult to find what you’re looking for on the mobile version, but this site is streamlined to help you access governmental data from a number of federal, state, and local government websites and contact your government by phone or email.


America.gov Mobile

America.gov MobileSlightly different from the USA.gov mobile site, the America.gov moile site provides mobile access to the State Department. They have a place for all the usual suspects like daily news updates, video segments and podcasts, but I think the thing it could be most useful for is the visa information it provides and the location information for various US embassies around the world. There’s been more than a few times while I was traveling when I’d wished for such easy access to embassies!


Government agencies

FBI’s Most Wanted

FBI's Most WantedIt’s likely that for most of us, under no circumstances will we be part of apprehending or spotting a wanted fugitive. That said, this app is epic! It’s simply the list of the FBI’s top ten most wanted but it’s still a pretty cool feature to be able to pull that list up on your phone with the ease of opening an app! The app includes the Top Ten Most Wanted, Most Wanted Terrorists, and Missing Children.

And if you do happen to have information on any of these cases, each picture has a link to provide the FBI with whatever knowledge on the fugitives. This application allows you to quickly identify Most Wanted criminals or missing children – which the average person could definitely find helpful.


FEMA Mobile

FEMA MobileIt seems like there are an endless number of jokes about how handy this application could’ve been years or even months ago, with various disasters, but it’s always best to be prepared and you never know what’s waiting around the corner. Really not trying to be a downer, but there’s no better time than the present to think about the future.

Plus, this mobile wesite for the Federal Emergency Management Agency does more than just provide advice and helpful information if you are in the middle of a crisis or natural disaster. The site also gives helpful information about how to be prepared for these situations and what to do to aid in recovery. To borrow from the Boy Scouts: be prepared! Don’t wait till you need this site to learn about how it can help!


Find Your Embassy

Find Your EmbassyI’ve mentioned how helpful I’ve thought it would be to have an app or a website that assists travelers with finding their embassies while abroad. I’ve never been in so dire a situation that I’ve needed the embassy (although I’ve been close!) but the smart move when you travel is to know where the embassy is in whatever city you’re traveling to. Again, it’s one of those things you need to know about before you need it!

So use and bookmark this mobile site, especially if you’re a traveler. Knowing where “home base” is while in a foreign country is crucial – but you likely won’t really need the knowledge until it’s too late to research it! Plan ahead and take a look around this mobile site.


NASA App

NASA AppAh, NASA. As a space brat whose dad worked with NASA and subsequently went into the space and satellites field in the Air Force, this app is probably my favorite and holds a particular power over me! The NASA app provides all kinds of news and information about the space program including videos and info on its operations – like the shuttle or the Mars rover.

But I can’t lie – one of the best things about this app is the awesome space images, pictures and photography. Oh, and you can plot the launch schedule too. And there’s info on the International Space Station. Ok – there are a lot of really cool things about this app and it’s perfect for space geeks like me or anyone else wanting to know more about the wild blue yonder.


U.S. Postal Service Tools

U.S. Postal Service ToolsIf you’re anything like me, you’re likely using post offices less and less. But when you need one, you need it ASAP: for things like sending birthday or holiday gifts, FedExing a lost rent check, or overnighting something your sister left when she came to visit.

This app helps ease your time of postal crisis by providing easily-accessible information on post office locations, collection boxes, pick up services, zip codes and more.


Veterans Affairs Mobile

Veterans Affairs MobileSometimes, waiting to answer an important question till you’re at your home computer just won’t cut it. When it comes to things like veterans benefits, healthcare, info for returning service members, their healthcare, mental care, education and so forth – you’ll need answers as quickly as possible. Which is why this mobile site is so crucial. Providing info and access to all these areas and more, the mobile site is easily accessible and gets vets the info on the services they need ASAP!


About Alexis James

Alexis James is the managing moderator/editor at an online marketing startup, while maintaining her own social media clients via 10thFloorPR.com. When she's not submerged in the web up to her eyeballs, she creates, markets and sells her own line of eco-friendly pet clothing (EarthsBestFriend.com), and postulates about life, politics and religion on her blog, alexisinthecity.com. You can track her down via her blog, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

4 Responses

  1. The apps are nice, especially because many work with any smartphone, not just an iPhone or Android device. As I tweeted when they rolled out, it would be great if USA.Gov had an option on the full website to send your cellphone a text with the URL for the mobile version of each application.

  2. Hey Firoze – thanks for the feedback. I actually have written about the TSA app and a few others that will be posted soon! Stay tuned!

  3. Thanks for featuring the FBI Most Wanted app! NIC worked in cooperation with the FBI to make this one of the first government apps in the app store. If anyone has suggestions for making it better, definitely leave a review or use the contact info in the app.

    Since we primarily work with states (running .gov sites for 23 of them) this was a fun project for our mobile development team.

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