IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

How Many Government Apps Are in App Stores? (Editorial)

Hard to say, really.

Over here at Government Technology we like to keep track of the companies that offer technology to government. Given the name, it’s kind of our thing.

And we’ve found some pretty good ways to do that. We get a good overview of what states, counties and cities are doing every year, and we keep tabs on what new products are coming out and how government is working creatively to solve problems.

But that’s all high-level stuff. What about the deep, turbulent sea that is the Internet’s app stores?

I don’t mean the kind of app store you go to if you want to download a sudoku app. No, I mean the super-businessy app marketplaces. The enterprise app marketplaces.

See, the big cloud computing providers out there all have their own app stores, which largely cater to … well, the kind of people who use cloud computing. Developers. Business leaders. Nonprofits. Government IT folks.

And these app marketplaces are not easy beasts to wrangle. But I took a stab at it.

Gov apps on cloud marketplaces
The graphic above shows how many results each marketplace returned when searching for “government.” It’s far from a perfect method for understanding the offerings for government here, but it’s a start. In short, these results begin to show how much functionality there is for the public sector in these marketplaces.

It is by no means a reflection of how useful each app marketplace is for government. There are a lot of caveats. Let’s walk through some of them:

  • Not all apps that are useful to government will necessarily say the word “government” in their app store listing, so they won’t show up in this type of search.
  • Not all apps that use the word “government” are actually meant to be used by government. For example, the first search result on the AWS marketplace is for a university-focused version of an app that government uses.
  • For the life of me I can’t figure out why some of these results showed up in the search at all. Take a look at “360° Real Estate Facility Management” in the Microsoft app store. It’s an app for real-estate owners to manage their properties. It doesn’t include the word “government” anywhere in the description, the reviews or the accompanying documents.
  • The marketplaces are built differently. The Azure marketplace is specifically for apps that “(enable) start-ups and independent software vendors (ISVs) to offer their solutions to Azure customers,” while Microsoft AppSource is more general. The IBM Marketplace leans heavily on IBM products, while others are full of third-party apps.
  • The way each app store built their search function has a huge influence on the results. For example, Microsoft and AWS both return results that seem mostly relevant to government. But Salesforce and Oracle? Oh boy. Each of them return hundreds of results, and a quick look through some of them does not give me a lot of hope for public-sector relevance. Take a look at “Vision-e Scan” in the Salesforce AppExchange. It’s a program where people can take photos of business cards and load them into Salesforce, auto-filling fields with information from the card photo. Neat! But really not relevant to government. So why did it show up in the search? Well, because in 2015 someone submitted a review for this app where they used the word “governance,” as in the process of managing data. One can imagine that this caused a lot of irrelevant results to end up in the search.
  • Meanwhile, Oracle just has endless apps that don’t apply to government but showed up in the search results anyway. What’s more, details for a lot of these apps are so scarce it’s hard to figure out why they wound up in a search for the word “government.” Let’s take a look here: We’ve got “Pharmaceutical channel management solution,” “Aman Insurance Management Solution,” “Pet Cremation System,” “Lite Manufacturing,” and the list goes on.
So why even write this article? Well, because there are a lot of interesting apps in there. Even in the marketplaces that are full of irrelevant results. Here are some that caught my eye:

Microsoft AppSource

Folksonomy Text Analysis: “With massive archives of structured, semi-structured, or unstructured data, our Folksonomy system applies intelligent tags to your data so you can get immediate answers to any query.”

SalesForce AppExchange

HomeKeeper: “Integrate program management with performance measurement. Centralize management (for) your affordable homeownership and inclusionary programs … Manage housing counseling sessions and workshops and send 9902 reports to HUD.”

IBM Marketplace

IBM MobileFirst for iOS Case Advice: “With one central place to access case history, perform assessments, and update data, IBM MobileFirst for iOS Case Advice offers remote social service workers resources while on the road.”

Oracle Cloud Marketplace

WizzForms: “WizzForms is a powerful application used to auto-populate the information stored on a driver’s license, state ID or passport directly into ANY field entry program, such as MS Excel, Access, Outlook, QuickBooks, ERP systems, CRM software, and any type of web form. *Image capture available with WizzForms Plus version.”

G Suite Marketplace

AppSheet: “Start with a Google Form and create your own mobile app with AppSheet. The apps can collect different inputs including photos, signatures, GPS location, and scanned barcodes. The app can grow to be much richer than a single form!”

AWS Marketplace

piXserve-ECs (Government Version): “Enterprise-class server application that automatically indexes and tags the contents of images (objects, faces, scenes, text). Through a web based user interface, users search and retrieve pictures that contain items of interest.”

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.