Progressive Web Apps: The Future of Civic Engagement

Chances are you checked your mobile phone before you even brushed your teeth this morning. Your residents are the same way.

Deloitte’s Global Consumer Mobile Survey found that eighty-nine percent of people look at their phone within an hour of waking up.


Local government web sites are bad, for the most part. There are a few standouts, like, but most reflect the silos that dog municipalities. Forbes recent article had a provocative title, “Why Progressive Web Apps Will Replace Native Mobile Apps.” I would add your municipal web site to that list!

Progressive Web Apps are reliable, fast, and engaging. They feel like a natural app on the device. calls PWAs the “New Pack Mule of the Internet.” Some benefits of PWAs include:

  • No “Installation” Required – PWAs are web pages, so no device installation is required. A shortcut can be added to the home screen.
  • No Application Updating Required – PWAs are updated in the background using ‘push notifications.’
  • Portability – PWA’s don’t require multiple platform versions and they scale to the desktop.
  • Fast Loading – Service workers allow PWAs to load nearly instantly and reliably, no matter what kind of network connection your user is on.
  • Presence on the Home Screen – Web app install banners let users quickly add the PWA to their home screen.
  • Fresh Content is Readily Available – PWAs enable push notifications with relevant, timely and contextual notifications to the device, even when the browser is closed.
  • Secure – PWAs are by definition secure, as they must be hosted over HTTPS.
  • Responsive – Responsive web design provides an engaging experience on all device types.
  • Less Intrusive Than Native Apps – PWAs use less space and fewer resources, extending battery life and requiring less data usage.
  • Native App Interface – Build using the application shell model, PWAs look like native apps, with quick response and smooth navigation.
  • Linkable and Shareable – Unlike native apps, users can easily share and bookmark the URL.
  • Discoverable via Search Engines  – As a web page, PWAs are discoverable because of their W3C manifests and service worker registration.
  • No App Store Required – No App Store submittal or approval, and no need to learn another coding platform separate from your web tools.

The stability of cell coverage, access to the internet,and sophistication of phones has made Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) a viable reality.

While a PWA can be treated like a standard application on a device, the ability to “just run” from a URL makes it easy to use it on any device with a browser. Moving from a mobile device to a laptop or desktop should include taking advantage of opportunities that are available like a larger screen. Unifying the surface that citizens connect with is a step toward a consistent citizen experience.



Start planning for PWAs, adding support to your current site.

Use PWAs to entice and convert web users to mobile app users by increasing engagement with high-value, frequent interactions.

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