It should come as no surprise that mobile technology is given solid coverage in a report discussing how European governments can benefit from ‘innovative public services’. After all, mobile is one of the fundamental game changers in our digital world. In fact ‘game changer’ is precisely how it is described in the annual eGovernment Benchmark Measurement of European online public services.
Released on the 28th of May 2014 and based on a benchmark survey conducted by Capgemini, the report suggests that mobile technologies might offer a way through a significant barrier to the uptake of online public services. That barrier is, quite simply, a lack of internet access. In fact, the report cites figures indicating that ‘one-fifth of all Europeans have never used the internet’ and that ‘28% of Europeans do not have internet access at home’.
For those of us who simply can’t live without internet access – banking, shopping, surfing, bill paying, socialising – these figures come as something of a shock. So how can mobile technology help to close the ‘digital divide’ between the ‘have internet access’ and the ‘have nots’?
The eGov Benchmark report says the use of mobile technologies could increase the uptake of eGovernment services previously hindered by poor communications infrastructure. It points to Kenya as an example of a country historically limited in its internet access. Here mobile networks have for example given Kenyans the ability to register for voting through SMS.
There is an appetite for mobile. But, as the report points out, Europe’s governments need to ‘deploy the right channel(s) to reach citizens and businesses, and to facilitate them in effective use of internet and ICT’.
This is undoubtedly a rapidly changing picture and adopting mobile technology in eGov strategies will be as much about transforming internal processes as it is about the technology itself. There are exciting times ahead and I for one will be watching with interest.