DuPage unveils app to make documents easier to read for smartphone users
By Hank Beckman For The Sun February 12, 2013 4:26PM
Updated: March 16, 2013 6:12AM
If you’ve ever tried to use your smartphone to access information from the DuPage County website, you likely developed a serious case of eye strain.
But help arrived this week with the unveiling of mobile software that automatically resizes documents to be compatible with a mobile device.
“When you go to a smartphone often the pages don’t show correctly,” Information Technology Manager Sandy Modesitt told the County Board’s Technology Committee.
The new technology has two components, the first being the in-house developed web application that automatically adapts the web page to a smartphone. The second, “responsive design,” allows the user the flexibility to switch back and forth between the smartphone and a larger device.
The smartphone user won’t have to do anything to activate the special browser, as the mobile app automatically recognizes that the user is accessing the county website from a mobile device.
Some larger devices, such as an iPad or other tablet, may already show the pages in natural form, and the user will have the option to switch back to the standard viewing.
Modesitt’s numbers show a significant increase in web hits on the county site from mobile devices and are reflective of society’s growing dependence on mobile computing.
In the period between August 2011 and February 2012, those visiting the DuPage website from smartphones or tablets was slightly in excess of 78,000 for the six-month period. The next six months showed 265,000 mobile hits, and the last six months showed a growth to just under 550,000.
Most of the hits are from people accessing information about property taxes, followed closely by those needing information from the county court system.
Other popular sites for visitors are the county’s adopt-an- animal program, job listings and general news. Modesitt said a lot of the growth could be attributed to the DuPage Election Commission being on the county website for the first time in a presidential election year. But she still detected significant growth in mobile visits.
“We’re still going up,” she said.
Modesitt said the department studied trends and described the new software as a relatively normal part of changing technology.
“We have to pay attention to what’s going on,” she said.
In an age where governments everywhere are watching every penny, the new feature comes at a relatively low cost. The mobile app was developed entirely in-house and the responsive design was implemented with the assistance of an outside vendor for only $30,000.
Technology Committee Chairman Brian Krajewski echoed Modesitt’s comments about increased demand.
“Clearly the people of DuPage are using their mobile apps,” he said. “This will make it easier for them.”