The two inaugural committees for the beginning of President Obama's second term today launched mobile-friendly ways for people to get need-to-know information about next week's presidential swearing-in ceremonies, such as how to buy tickets and where to find the nearest porta-potty.
The existence of two committees means twice the gadgetry. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced a website, optimized for mobile, designed to give attendees ticket and travel information on their smartphones. The Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC for short) announced a full-fledged app, downloadable on iPhones and Androids.
While just four years ago, participation in inaugural events was limited to those who squeezed inside the Beltway, the committee is promoting its mobile app as a way to open the celebration up to folks across the country.
The app will let users watch the ceremony live wherever they have an Internet connection on Inauguration Day. It also offers educational information, such as a history of the U.S. Marine Band's inaugural performances and the number of Vice President Joe Biden's grandchildren.
On inauguration morning, the app should prove useful to visitors making their way to the National Mall with maps that will display despite bad or nonexistent Internet connections - a key feature for those riding the Metro.
The maps include points of interest like entrances to the mall, Jumbotron screens showing the ceremony and portable toilets. The 2009 inauguration had 5,000-7,000 planned porta-potties, but with 1.8 million attendees gathered for the event - some spending more than eight hours on the mall - the mobile bathrooms became essential hubs.
This year crowd estimates have been cut in half, but the man/woman icons that denote a restroom still dot the parade and viewing routs on the PIC's maps.
The PIC's product is not the only inauguration app available when one searches the Apple app store, so the Committee recommends downloading from a link on its website.
"This inauguration is a celebration of the American people," Steve Kerrigan, president and CEO of the PIC, wrote in a statement. "That's why we've designed our app to make sure folks across this country don't miss a moment of history. Whether you're in Washington, D.C. or any other part of the nation, there are plenty of ways to be involved in the inauguration through this app."