Social Security Office Releases Baby Name App. But Why?Madeline Holler
Take it from me, someone who has followed parenting news topics for years now, baby name lists and commentary are a real crowd pleaser. In the end, baby name statistics are super inconsequential, but even plenty of non-parents — or folks with grown children, or teachers, heck, cave dwellers — are curious about trends and upsets in the sport of naming a child.
A crucial bit of research between the date of conception and a signature on a birth certificate is the spring release of the Social Security Administration’s annual list of Top 1000 baby names in the U.S. and their rankings for the previous year. Those lists have been developed into the SSA’s first attempt at a mobile phone app.
Called “The Baby Name Playroom,” the app lets you search their 45,000-name database (including those that won’t make a comeback) and create favorite names lists. You can see the year’s most popular baby names (and unique baby names). Or you can hit the “Surprise Me” button and let the governmental agency responsible for giving out Social Security Numbers and handing out disability benefits name your kid!
CIO Frank Baitman says his organization developed the baby name app in order to get a feel for the whole app-development and testing process. He said the SSA wants to move more into mobile platforms and that this was one way to go through the exercise.
He tells Mobiledia:
“We recognize that the mobile platform is going to be hugely important to Americans,” Baitman, a former director at the Palo Alto-based Institute for the Future said, “and to government and business to be able to get their jobs done in years to come.”
One of Baitman’s goals is to help the SSA move more services online and raise awareness of the agency, and apps like “Baby Name Playroom” seem like a good vehicle to test-drive that goal.
Not every one of their clients has a computer at home, but a growing segment of population they serve owns a smart phone. The free Baby Name Playroom is just testing the waters.
If you’ve ever had to go to an SSA office, you know how frustrating it can be. My son was born at home, so we had to do all his birth certificate and social security paperwork ourselves. I spent two days in an SSA office, waiting, waiting, waiting, and then countless hours on the phone just to get him a social security number. If mobile apps can spare some other family that kind of pain, I’m all for it.
Also, I think that was smart of them to lead with something painless — and pleasant — like a baby name app. Have you played with the SSA’s app?