More notes on mobile apps and government

I still haven’t really got my head around mobile apps and their use for government services. However, James Coltham wrote up some excellent notes from a meeting up in Scotland on the subject recently:

There is definitely a groundswell of interest, though, as well as a growing demand from the public, making for interesting times for anyone involved in making sure their services are ready to go mobile.

I wrote a few bits down last August, and if I’m honest my position hasn’t much changed from:

  1. Platform neutral mobile friendly websites are probably a better bet in an age of austerity
  2. App development is probably a job for the private sector, but I’m not convinced there’s an actual market (ie would people pay for an app to access government services?)
  3. Any app that would work for more than one organisation will need open data in a common format which doesn’t yet exist, though it might do soon (LinkedGov, KnowledgeHub, etc)

Also, what are the sorts of things people will want to do with councils or other public services on their phones? I suppose there are two elements to this:

  • Those things you might want which are suited more to a mobile device than anything else: ie, I need this information now, and here. Bus timetables are a good example, perhaps, or something else that can use location data.
  • Everything else, but delivered to a phone because that either where the owner prefers to access information and services, or because it’s their only way of accessing information and services

I think the second point is probably key to winning the argument for whether government organisations should seriously explore delivery via mobile devices. If we come to a point where a lot of people don’t bother with PCs because their phones do want they need them to, then that’s where the focus of electronic delivery probably should be pointed.

In other words, what does e-government look like in a post-PC era?