The mobile phone, now ubiquitous to virtually everyone in the United States, is quickly following suite in user trends blazed first by the world wide web. In the past decade alone, internet usage worldwide has grown over 360%. Close on its tails, mobile phone saturation has jumped worldwide from 5% in 1998 to over 50% in 2008. The usage of mobile phones has skyrocketed in part because they provide an economical means of connecting to the internet.
Innovative ideas have quickly developed around providing citizen-related services through mobile phones. While the earliest uses were born more out of necessity, current technology is harnessing the power of mobile phones to support and propel citizen engagement in democracy. A new report released by Mobi Solutions analyzes the latest trends in mobile technology. Their findings suggest that, when it comes to adopting emerging technology, youth are the first to do so, followed by businesses who do so only after the benefits become clear while governments are the last to adopt, making the leap only once the benefits have been fully proven in other sectors.
Of course at this stage in the game, the opportunities presented by mobile technologies are there for governments to seize. The ease-of-use and convenience of mobile phones counteracts earlier dilemmas of accessibility and actually encourages citizens to be more active in local government. Furthermore, digital forms of communication allow municipalities to gather data more efficiently and economically. Based on this, the Mobi report has adopted the term m-government. The next iteration to follow e-government, the m-government movement focuses on enhancing the opportunities that lie within internet connected technologies in ways that engage government.
And who is best exemplifying the m-government initiative? Places like Estonia where mobile devices have successfully bridged the gap between home and school, and governments like Bangladesh that alert citizens of impending natural disasters via text message.
Learn more about large-scale and small-scale m-government projects here: