Monday, 20 February 2012

UN agencies recently started designing mobile applications for smartphones and tablets

UN agencies, as well as other international organizations like the European Union and the OECD, recently started developing free apps for mobile devices. The growing market of tablets and smart phones is attracting the interest of  these institutions not only to launch informative services but also to establish alternative selling markets for their publications. Obviously, the AppStore on I-Tunes was the first target platform used by the FAO, the World Bank the Office of the High Commissioner  for Human Rights and other bodies to launch these apps, but in the last months have been released apps versions for the Android Market and the Windows and BlackBerry platforms.  Below you can find a short review for some of these applications:

Screenshot of the main menu
The ‘FAO Forestry’ App provides users with news, videos, select publications, interactive maps showing world forest statistics, and a quiz, all navigable with a touch-screen wheel. It also includes a ‘donate’ button that takes users to the website of FAO’s TeleFood fundraising programme – which uses public contributions to finance small-scale agriculture, livestock and fisheries projects that help poor families achieve food security.

UN Procurement Mobile App.
The United Nations Procurement Division has launched the new version of its UN Procurement Mobile App for the iOS platform.
The "UN Procurement" App offers real-time access to information related to business opportunities, business seminars schedule and contract awards. The App will allow vendors convenient sharing and transfer of information within their organization on-the-go directly from their smart phones. This first release of the Mobile Application also includes contact functions as well as direct access to resources such as the Procurement Manual. The "UN Procurement" App can be downloaded from the iTunes Store, Android Market and BlackBerry App World free of charge.

UN Foundation App Screenshot
The UN Foundation app, available on the Apple store, Android and Windows platforms, gives to the users  instant access to information on UN Foundation initiatives that are improving children’s health, empowering women and girls, combating climate change, and using innovation and technology to improve the lives of impoverished people around the world. The app is updated daily with new content, photos, videos and push notifications for breaking news. The photo-scramble game, “Pieces of Peace,” is a fun way to get up to speed on UN projects on the ground.

Icon App for the UNFCCC
conferences news
The UN climate change secretariat (UNFCCC) has developed an application software to provide quick and easy access to essential information about the UN Climate Change Conferences taking place in 2011and to allow virtual participation in the events. With this app,users had the opportunity to track news update of the negotiations in the COP17/CMP7 conference held in Durban , alerts of side events, schedule, documents and a few other features.

The UN News Reader is a free mobile news application for quick and easy access to all stories from the UN News Centre. With a simple, user-friendly interface, readers can read up-to-the-minute latest stories or browse by subject and geographic region. The News Reader downloads the latest feed to your device so you can read stories offline later, plus you can save them as favourites for quick reference. found at oecd factbook. A dedicated page on the UN publications section provides the details on various apps available on the market together with the links of publications made accessible on mobile phones and tablets like Kindle or Nook.

In the UN system, the World Bank has been one of the forerunner in embracing the new technologies. In 2010, it launched the "Apps for Development" competition awarding those software developers from across the globe that were capable to create the most original and innovative digital apps using the World Bank’s freely available data. The participation has been massive with more than 107 entries from 36 countries across six continents, and nearly a third from Africa. On the left, you can find a list of World Bank applications expressly designed for Apple devices all downloadable for free on the App Store.

Other UN agencies have also started developing apps for the I-Tunes Store and soon there will be new services available on the AppStore together with versions for other platforms: