Douglas Fees, the Information Technology Services Chief with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) discusses how his agency collaborated with Timmons Group to develop a GIS roadmap and mobile strategy that resulted in a suite of applications to better serve citizens, visitors and internal MDC staff.
Imagine planning a fishing trip with family or friends and knowing exactly where to find the hot fishing spots and having the exact driving directions on how to get there. Imagine being able to purchase your hunting and fishing license right from your phone and store them offline. Imagine being able to see, from your phone, where the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has created habitat for fish in Missouri waterbodies, potentially increasing your fishing success. Seems too good to be true, right? Not at all. In fact, MDC has made these things possible for all Missouri residents and visitors to the State. The agency has created a suite of applications to better serve citizens, visitors and internal MDC staff, including MO Fishing and MO Hunting, and other solutions planned for coming years.
GIS Roadmap and Mobile Strategy
Prior to development, MDC embarked on a GIS Roadmap and Mobile Strategy planning effort to ensure that the agency understood their collective priorities and had a plan to achieve them. MDC’s mobile strategy or “roadmap” helped the organization prioritize new mobile applications, and enhancements to existing mobile applications, to continue their engagement with Missouri residents and tourists. In addition to helping MDC prioritize the “mobile requests” from residents, the mobile strategy outlined technical decisions, standards, maintenance and support plans, and an agency-wide mobile branding guide. MDC consulted with their long-time partner, Timmons Group, a firm specializing in strategic planning and application development, to design and implement this strategy. The end goals for this strategy were:
- Create more uniformity in mobile application development projects,
- Guide mobile development approaches and strategies,
- Outline mobile device and operating system maintenance and support considerations, and
- Prioritize and streamline the mobile application requests from across the agency and the citizens it serves
Timmons Group began this project by holding work sessions with eleven divisions and units at MDC to gather mobile requirements that would address internal (MDC staff) and external (MDC constituents) user needs. Although the specific mission of each of these groups was different, there were high-level themes common to many.
A total of 156 unique requirements were communicated by MDC staff. These requirements were then mapped down to 21 high level priorities by Timmons Group. The recommended solutions for these priorities included key enhancements to existing IT management procedures, 11 new mobile solution recommendations, and enhancements to existing MDC mobile apps.
The highest priorities were: mobile access to conservation area information, the ability to document MDC field studies and data collection projects, mobile access to agency data, streamlining paper process with mobile data collection, improved communication, promotion of MDC activities, and an improved public feedback loop. The mobile solutions that were proposed satisfy MDC’s primary audiences: upland and waterfowl hunters, fishermen, naturalists, recreation enthusiasts, nature educators, private landowners, other MDC partners (private, federal, state, local), and MDC staff.
MDC has a suite of mobile apps that focus on natural resources management and conservation, such as MO Fishing, MO Hunting, MDC Inspect, MDC Agent, MO Forest Inventory and Timber Sale System (MO FITS), and other upcoming efforts that will look to integrate badging and rewards. MDC’s goal with their mobile strategy is to improve engagement with the public and conservationists in Missouri and to streamline activities and increase efficiencies across the organization via mobile apps. Through thoughtful planning upfront (i.e., Mobile RoadMapping), the agency can make smart decisions related to their overall digital strategy and create an “ecosystem” of services to meet all constituents (internal and external) to the agency.