Arkansas this week officially released a redesign of its state website, Arkansas.gov , and mobile version, which state officials said has two new features not found on any other portal: Text4help and an e-government services geolocation widget.

The Text4help feature allows users of the mobile version to input a question about government services in the form of a text message. Customer service staff then respond back in a text message with an answer.

Arkansas Chief Technology Officer Claire Bailey said Text4help is included in the mobile version of Arkansas.gov and other mobile-enhanced service the state offers, such as the YOUniversal Financial Aid System.

For example, a user could text, “Where do I go to pay property taxes for Pulaski County?” and receive a text message with a link to the county’s site. Bailey said providing services via text message caters to tech-savvy citizens.

“We really want to be ready for that next generation and we’ve got to be able to in public sector produce services that are for all generations,” Bailey said.

Janet Grard, general manager of Arkansas.gov, said on the mobile version of the website users access the Text4help feature by tapping a button on their mobile device’s touchscreen.

The service also is available on iPad. However, the iPad functionality technically isn’t text messaging, but rather real-time instant messaging.

The state also has added a free, e-government services geolocation widget to Arkansas.gov designed for local and community websites that want to embed code for city, county or state online services within their own website. Because it’s geolocated, the widget returns search results based on the user’s location.

“Arkansas.gov is sharing our services through a piece of content that you can put on your website,” Grard said. “We have more than 1,000 services in our database listing that ranges all levels of government, so we can serve out all of those levels of services in one location on that community site [users] may be most engaged in.”

Text4help and the geolocation widget were developed in conjunction with NIC USA, the state’s vendor partner.

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.