Sure, there are a plethora of baby-naming apps on the iPhone. But how many of them were created by humble bureaucrats toiling away in the deep, dark recesses of the Social Security Administration?
As of this week, one–now that the SSA has released its new app, Baby Name Playroom, which reaches into its databases to serve up the most popular baby names from the past 130 years. It also includes links to troves of useful information on the SSA website, like disability benefits for children and how to file for a Social Security number for your baby. It’s cuddlier-looking than one might expect from an app created by a government agency (though we’re not sure we’d recommend naming your kid based on its “Shake to get a random name!” feature).
While Baby Name Playroom doesn’t necessarily include some of the features other baby-naming apps, like the origins of particular names, SSA CIO Frank Baitman tells Fast Company that part of the idea behind the project was simply to test drive the app-building process.
“We recognize that the mobile platform is going to be hugely important to Americans–and to government and business to be able to get their jobs done in years to come,” he says.
Baitman should know about looking ahead. A former business-strategy consultant in the private sector, he was once a director at the Palo Alto-based Institute for the Future, helping Fortune 500 clients understand how emerging technologies could impact–and disrupt–their industries.
Part of Baitman’s long-term goal is to help the SSA move more services online–and raise awareness about them among the general population. Apps, Baitman says, can help deliver some of those services.
“There are a not an insignificant number of people who don’t have access to the Internet, but they have a mobile phone. If that’s the best way to reach them, we want to do so,” he says.