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m-Government - Next Frontier in Public Service Delivery

The Society for Promotion of e-Governance along with e-Development thematic group of The World Bank organized a global dialogue on potential of mobile Government in November 2007. A report on the discussions and the way forward is being put jointly by SpeG and e-TG for the benefit of stakeholders. The m-Government portal will be expanded to include the information for mobile services stakeholders in the next phase by the end of 2008.

 

Purpose

This special coverage focuses on exploring the knowledge and experience in Mobile Government (m-Government) around the world. It examines m-Government as an emerging trend and a new frontier in public service delivery, and explores its potential for transforming governments by increasing their accessibility and citizen-centricity.

Definition

m-Government is part of a broader phenomenon of mobile-enabled development (m-development) or leveraging the mobile revolution to enable development impact. It takes electronic services and makes them available via mobile technologies using devices such as mobile phones and PDAs. These services bypass the need for traditional physical networks for communications and collaboration.

Potential

m-Government have the ability to connect previously unconnected areas, information, and services from the government. It extends the benefits of remote delivery of government services and information to those who are unable or unwilling to access public services through the Internet, or who simply prefer to use mobile devices. In theory, many government services can also be made available on a 24x7x365 basis at any place in the world covered by mobile networks, which today means almost everywhere.
 
In addition, the relatively lower cost of mobile phone technology versus internet technology has drastically lowered the entry barriers for citizens in developing countries to be connected to government services. Mobile phones allow citizens to get access to government services virtually in any place covered by a mobile network. Mobile devices are also easier to learn and to use by the elderly and blue-collars. There is a very wide range of potential government services which can be delivered via mobile phone, including services relating to health, education, employment, police, tax, judicial and legal systems, etc. Payments and financial services are also possible through mobile phones, which drastically expands the opportunities to incorporate m-services into the everyday lives of citizens. Mobile phone technology can also considerably expand the scope of e-democracy and e-participation, engaging citizens in democratic decision-making through various polls, m-voting, and other forms of communication between citizens and the government.

Several factors are fueling the demand for mobile services, including 1) the penetration of mobile technology and the relative low cost of entry into mobile connectivity, 2) the convergence of wired internet and telecommunication networks, allowing information once only available on a computer to be received through mobile phones, and 3) the shift towards higher data transfer rates and 3G services which promises to make more information available at faster speeds.

Limitations

While m-government has great potential to vastly expand access to public services to the poorest segments of the population in areas where wired telecommunications and ICT services do not exist, there are still limits to its capabilities. Several constrains exist which may potentially inhibit the growth of m-government services in developing nations:
1) The physical limitations of mobile technology (small screen size, limited text input, etc) may restrict the amount of information that is easily sent or received.
2) In some areas, the mobile user is charged a fee for not just for sent SMS messages but also for received messages, placing financial limitations on the amount of information governments can cost-effectively provide to citizens.
3) Though minimal in comparison with wired networks, physical infrastructure is still necessary for mobile applications and services to be available in rural areas.
4) Payment and financial options require existing financial structures which are compatible with mobile technology, such as credit cards and bank accounts

Case Studies

Municipal Administration in China – case study on the implementation of an m-governance strategy for managing municipal administration (urban infrastructure, housing, environment protection, city appearance) in Beijing. http://www.mgov.cn/ICEG_2006_paper.pdf

Overview of m-government strategy - Macedonia http://www.mgovernment.org/resurces/euromgov2005/PDF/5_R368AL.pdf

Analysis of m-government in South Africa, both existing structures and potential expansions
http://topics.developmentgateway.org/
e-government/rc/filedownload.do~itemId=379174

M-government services in Dubai http://www.mdubai.ae/

Listing of 150 m-government services in Singapore http://www.ecitizen.gov.sg/mobile/index.html

M-services in Estonia http://www.mobisolutions.com/docs/mestoniabitr.pdf

“Mobile District” project in Moscow, Russia (in Russian) http://www.zelao.ru/ru/3/22487/22504/

Other Resources

Extensive listing of mobile applications throughout the world – International Telecommunications Union http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/ni/futuremobile/content/messaging.html

Articles on m-government services, studies, papers http://topics.developmentgateway.org/
egovernment/rc/BrowseContent.do~source=RCContentUser~folderId=
2893?source=RCContentUser&folderId=2893

Employment Services – The Department of Labor in the Philippines provides a service to job seekers which sends information via SMS on both domestic and international employment opportunities.
http://www.dole.gov.ph/news/details.asp?id=N000001267

Financial Services – Global project to permit money remittances to be received on mobile phones in India. http://www.bharti.com/129.0.html?
&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=202&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=128&cHash=22b5e5f70b

Law Enforcement – Philippine police have implemented an SMS service to allow for anonymous reports on crimes, wrongdoing by police officers, or request emergency services. http://www.pnp.gov.ph/index.html

Democracy and Governance - Mobile Election Monitors of Nigeria use SMS messaging to monitor elections from voting sites and coordinate at a central location to ensure impartial elections. http://www.mobilemonitors.org/index.html

Agricultural Services – Agriwatch provides Indian agricultural market and technical information to subscribers via SMS messages. http://www.agriwatch.com/

Overview articles on m-government in Russian:
http://www.cnews.ru/reviews/free/gov2007/articles/mobile.shtml
http://www.pcweek.ru/themes/detail.php?ID=82854
http://www.connect.ru/article.asp?id=6351
http://www.microsoft.com/Rus/Government/events/glc2000/conf_2000_17.mspx

Visit Special CoverageWebsite at the World Bank

 

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