recommended reading

Smokey Bear’s official app is close but no campfire

Chanin Knight/

This story is part of Nextgov’s Building Better Apps project.

Smokey Bear’s official app promises to tell you everything you need to know about how to safely build and put out a campfire, but it failed to light our reviewers up.

The major problem was that the app needed an Internet connection to display even basic information.

“That’s a little crazy if you think about the context where people would actually be using the app,” said Ted Chan, founder of “It’s for when you’re camping, right? So there’s not a good chance you’d be online or have a connection.”

The step-by-step directions for how to build a fire were also text heavy and looked as if they’d simply been imported from a webpage, said Yaron Oren, chief operating officer at iSpeech. People reading on a smartphone screen aren’t likely to have patience for that much text.

Despite these execution errors, our reviewers thought Smokey had a lot of potential.

Designers could easily separate out content that doesn’t need to be updated -- such as fire building instructions -- and offer that without an Internet connection, Chan said. Another easy fix, said Matt Thazhmon, chief executive of PowerInbox, would be to make those fire instructions more mobile-friendly and kid-friendly by adding pictures or cartoons.

Our reviewers’ grade: 2.3/5

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.