FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Nov. 21, 2011) -- The popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices has changed the way we communicate, and the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office is taking advantage of those changes.
"Our society is very mobile. People aren't tied to their desktop computers anymore," said Jason Kelly, the PAO emerging media manager. "The enhanced mobile version of our website for smartphone users means it is even easier to get information about Fort Meade while away from desktop computers."
Kelly came up with the idea of launching a mobile application for the Fort Meade website nearly two weeks ago and immediately began working on the project to design and test the app. The app seamlessly works on any smartphone with an Internet browser and was designed with a general mobile audience in mind.
Users can access the enhanced version of the website by going to www.ftmeade.army.mil from any smartphone. There are several informative topics to choose from the home page, such as the telephone directory, directions to post from the surrounding area, a calendar of upcoming events, the Freedom Inn Dining Facility's menu, access to the weekly Soundoff! newspaper and social media sites.
"As we move forward, we'll look at ways to offer more customized information for other parts of our internal and external communities," Kelly said.
Chad Jones, director of the Public Affairs Office, said he is pleased with the launch of the application.
"More people are using smartphones, and we are making the information easy to get to. Our goal at PAO is to make information as accessible and useful as possible. This new app and other advancements helps us do that," said Jones. "We encourage feedback from the community to make this as effective as possible."
With unpredictable weather and the upcoming winter season quickly approaching, the web app couldn't have come at a better time. The app provides a means for instant communication when emergencies such as snowstorms could result in base closures, delays or changes in employee arrival times.
In addition to the new web app, users have the option to receive post operating schedule changes, either through the enhanced mobile website or as a text message. To receive text messages, users text the message "follow ftmeadealert" to 40404, without the quotation marks. Once registered, users will automatically receive a text message whenever there is a change to the operating schedule.
The text is sent through Twitter, but doesn't require users to be registered Twitter users. Standard text messaging rates apply to anyone receiving text alerts. However, there is no cost to Fort Meade to offer this service.
"This new text-alert service reflects our continued commitment to embrace new technology," Kelly said.
Kelly believes that Fort Meade is the first military community to launch an enhanced web app that can be used without downloading any special or additional software.
"This means more people can benefit from our enhanced website with the same technology that they're familiar with," he said.
Kelly is optimistic about the launching of the web app.
"We're offering a new example of how to embrace emerging media to better communicate with our community," he said. "As we move forward, we'll continue to look at new ways to continue to grow our emerging media program to reflect the needs of our community, while considering new fiscal realities."
To offer feedback, comments or suggestions or for more information about the mobile app, call 301-677-1109 or check out the Fort Meade Facebook page.