Monday, 6 October 2008

Mobile government - MGov conference in Antalya

Just a quick thank you to Prof Kushchu from the mCGI for running the enlightening conference on mobile government in the, even more enlightening, location of Antalya.

The conference was a great statement as to where we are as eGovernment embraces mGovernment. mGovernment can really help hit the target of reaching all of the citizens and as Marie Munk, Deputy Director-General, National IT and Telecom Agency in Denmark pointed out, allowing the focus to move to what the citizen’s actually need. This can be achieved by embracing the multiple channels available to communicate with the people, from traditional face-to-face meetings to the readily adopted SMS communicates all the way to richer mobile web or mobile app interactions.

In particular we thoroughly enjoyed the presentation of mTartu by Rain Rannu – a mobile city initiative from the Estonian of Tartu. Some great stories where the technology is kept simple and citizen engagement is kept high, such as:

Teachers sending SMS alerts to parents when schedules change Police broadcasting SMS alerts of lost child or stolen card to a trusted network, e.g., taxi drivers – this has led to a rapid resolution in cases where rapid resolution is essential to nip the problem in the bud Citizens texting to shortcode when you see something that needs fixing such as graffiti You can find more about this from an interview with Rain at the eGov monitor.

Countries such as Estonia (issuing citizens with smart cards and encouraging the ports to mobile) and Turkey (with Turkell placing mobile certificates and signing up the turkish banks) and making huge step forwards in implementing mobile identity management. Ljubomir Trajkovski took an interesting leap forward to a use case where governments could authorise an inter-country marriage using digitally signed certificates triggered from a mobile phone on the beach – perhaps technically feasible, but possibly a step beyond which governments and people are ready to go at this point in time. if. There was of course a healthy caution with the potential abuse of trusting certificates, but as with any identification process we have to have the maturity to understand how much we trust a given identification and how we deal with the abuse. CIDWAY have a great identity solution with a one time password (OTP) application on the phone. The level of trust is so high that that some bodies will potentially use it for military level identification.

And finally, a mention to Carl Adams who took us through a history of economic revolutions and how things are panning out with the new virtual-economies such as PayPal and Second Life and in particular how society adapts to the level of trust of given economy. I found this particular perceptive in the light of the current global financial crisis.

From a government point of the view it would seem that the current challenges are primarily human and not technological. Although the technology will continue to race ahead at a great pace, we already have the capabilities to allow governments to engage to with the people using the mobile phones. We needn’t leave the traditional communications behind, but we do have the opportunity to allow the people to communicate in the way that is most beneficial from them. This will require processes to adapt to allow these multiple channels as well as appropriate attention to education of using these mobile alternatives.

Thanks to everyone we met and for all your great feedback – looking forward to the next one.