DHS Launches New Smartphone App

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

LANSING -- Need to report abuse or welfare fraud to the Michigan Department of Human Services?

Don't worry -- now there's an app for that.

"We needed a mobile app so it can all be on one step, whether it's on the Android or on the iPhone," says Edward Woods III, a spokesman for DHS.

At a press conference Thursday, DHS officials announced they're going mobile with a new application for smartphones. Partners of the agency will now be able to access DHS news, report abuse or fraud, or refer a client to state services -- all on the go.

"This is one more step in democratizing the ability for people to have access, and bringing other people in to the work with us," says DHS director Ismael Ahmed.

How's it work? Say you want to report child abuse.

"You download the app [for free], press the 'Report Abuse' button, and it'll take you to the DHS website, embedded right here in the app," says Tim Davis, director of Digital, the company that designed the application.

"And it then gives you the options on how you would report it, whether it's a phone number, or a field form or e-mail."

And state officials say this application is needed now more than ever. In fact, a recent study by Morgan Stanley suggests that within just three years, more people will be accessing the Internet on their mobile phones than on their desktop computers.

"So there it is, right at the touch fo a fingertip," says Janet Snyder, head of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families. She and representatives from other agencies across the state say the new DHS app will increase access and efficiency.

"What we're really doing is increasing the level of the safety net," Snyder says.

Bob Miles, president of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Michigan, agrees.

"As technology changes, we oughta bring technology into play for the benefit of the people we have living here in the state, and the people we're serving," he says.

In 2010, DHS served some 3 million michigan residents -- about 30 percent of the state's population. They're banking on the new app to help ease some of that load.

The app can be found in the Android market, and will be available on the iPhone in about 30 days.


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