M-government: mobile services for mobile citizens

m-governmentReading Nacho’s blog, I’ve seen that he has participated in the recently published Blogbook. As expected, he has written a chapter about m-government and has decided to publish it in his blog.

As part of my job at T-Systems I’m also involved in this subject, and would like to comment about my impressions from Nacho’s chapter and about m-government in general.

At a first glance, I like very much the informal style of the chapter (and I guess that also the rest of the book) and the simple way in which he explains what is m-government and what are the potential benefits and the difficulties of its implementation.

Ibrahim Kushchu (Director of the Mobile Government Consortium of UK) defines m-government as the strategy, implementation and utilization of all kinds of mobile and wireless technologies, services, applications and devices to obtain benefits for citizens, businesses and all of the government units.

I agree with Nacho in that m-government is a component of e-government, understanding this last concept as the provision of telematic services using all available channels. However, there are several factors that seem to indicate that the efforts in the next years have to be centered in m-government:

  • Mobile devices each day are more varied (adecuated to each users needs), have more functionalities and are more affordable.

  • Mobile device penetration is much higher than fixed broadband, tending to become a universal channel.

  • Mobile devices are always on and are personal.

For all these reasons, we can assure that m-government is something inevitable. The main driving forces for the adoption of this model are:

  • wireless connectivity technological advances.

  • potential benefits can be obtained from business models based on these advances.

  • the growing demands from the citizens for better and simpler services from public administrations.

It is true that, as Nacho says, the implementation of m-government also faces several barriers that have to be overcome, but we can constantly see success cases where different administrations try out and learn from the usage of these new technologies. Generally, SMS are the pillars of m-government and they offer great innovation potential, even though they are mainly unidirectional services. As broadband wireless communications become more available and affordable, we will surely start seeing a new generation of services with higher possibilities, as we can see in the diagram below from a presentation about m-government from Ibrahim Kushchu:

m-government development path

Of course this growth has to take place in an organic way, that warranties the investments and that integrates with existing administrative systems, to be able to obtain the full benefits of these new technologies.

To sum up, the usage of mobile technologies in the public administration not only provides an alternative communication and services channel for citizens, but also allows to go further, returning the mobile nature to public administration. In this way, it trascends the traditional service model provided by e-government, offering the possibility of providing personalized, localized and context-aware services to the new “mobile citizens”.

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