Why We Need an ‘M-Government’ Movement


The time has come for governments globally to take a hard look at their capacity to provide effective mobile-oriented services.

Eugene Liderman is director of public sector at Good Technology. 

With the unexpected departure of federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel, many are looking back at his countless accomplishments, particularly his impact on e-government and IT in the Office of Management and Budget.

While there is no doubt VanRoekel’s successor will continue to lead the charge in the use of Internet-based technologies to make it easier for citizens and businesses to interact with the federal government, it’s important to also consider how this role may evolve with a successor who champions the next movement in citizen service: mobile-government, or m-government.

Times have changed since the E-Government Act of 2002 became law. While the e-government movement was originally focused on using the Internet to provide increased opportunities for citizen participation in government, the next logical step in the e-government movement is to take a look at the platforms on which citizens would like to access these services.

According to IDC, by 2015, more Americans will access the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs, and agencies are already aware of this coming shift.

In fact, Gartner recently found that government organizations have an interest in providing citizen-facing services using mobile devices, which is driven by opportunities mobile technologies offer. According to Gartner, the suitability of government services to be delivered over a mobile channel depends on a combination of demographics, frequency and recurrence of use, immediacy and urgency of use, potential level of automation, relevance of location information for service delivery, and how compelling the use of the service is.

While agencies have an interest in delivering citizen services via mobile, we’ve only begun to scratch the service in terms of providing appropriate guidance and setting the stage so agencies can be successful.

The White House digital government strategy is perhaps the most relevant blueprint agencies have today. It has helped agencies identify which services are best to be delivered via mobile first, spurred the launch of a shared mobile app development program, and established a governmentwide mobile device management platform, among other key initiatives.

These milestones serve as a solid foundation to the m-government movement, but beyond frameworks, agencies now need use cases and best practices to launch their own mobile initiatives. 

According to the Mobile Work Exchange, since the launch of the digital government strategy initiative, the federal government has invested $1.6 billion in mobilizing its federal workforce. 

That said, this same research suggests only 56 percent of federal IT managers believe their agency is taking full advantage of mobility, citing obstacles like security concerns, available funding, culture challenges and procurement. 

We’re not just looking at a U.S.-specific issue here. On a global scale, governments around the world are looking for guidance and best practices to deliver on the demand for mobile citizen service in their respective markets.

The time has come for governments globally to take a hard look at their capacity to provide effective mobile-oriented services both for their employees as well as the citizens those governments support.

Throughout Europe, there are a growing number of initiatives to provide mobile capabilities to public sector employees with tailor-made applications for use on smartphones and touchpads.

For example, the French Ministry of Interior’s Progress Contract, published in December 2013, includes guidelines providing agents operating in the field with secure IT and communication systems, which improves their working conditions and well-being.

Mobile technologies such as these can help government employees best serve their country’s citizens – and the same can be done here in the U.S. with numerous federal agencies already taking a mobile-first approach.

When it comes to law enforcement, we are seeing first responders use their smartphones and tablets while being deployed to help provide a more rapid turnaround for their specific missions or tasks.

The White House digital government strategy calls for the rapid dissemination of lessons learned from early adopters so we can launch shared governmentwide solutions. To do so, we need a leader championing this cause and an m-government movement to help everyone get on board and truly reap the benefits of mobile citizen service.

(Image via Yganko/Shutterstock.com)