Written by Colin Wood
Government agencies are increasingly adapting their services to mobile platforms, but a recent industry study shows that only a third of citizens see mobile devices as their preferred way of working with government, citing privacy and privacy. security as major obstacles.
A study published by computer giant Unisys shows that only 32% of 2,000 citizens polled in eight states said they preferred to use a mobile device to access government services. A reluctance to share personal information and fear of data breaches emerged in the survey as a major deterrent – 69% of those surveyed said they believed collecting data would undermine their privacy and around 66% said they were concerned about how the government would use their data. and that it might not be properly protected.
As national and local government agencies try to keep pace with the quality and usability of services offered by private companies, they have released mobile applications with increasing regularity in recent years. Although for some, the simple launch of an online portal for a service that was traditionally only offline is sometimes seen as a major breakthrough, and the prospect of releasing a sleek mobile app often remains elusive.
Amy Glasscock, senior policy analyst for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, said the data is consistent with other research she’s seen, including that related to state government.
“This is something CIOs are certainly aware of, especially when you have people who have access to the internet exclusively on a mobile device, you want to make your websites mobile friendly,” Glasscock said.
Data from Pew Research from February shows that 20% of American adult internet users are smartphone-only users. And almost everyone now has a mobile device: 95% of Americans own a cell phone and 77% a smartphone.
While the majority of citizens may not prefer to use mobile devices to do business with the government, mobile offerings are typically designed by agencies as a way to extend accessibility and increase options for users. , not as the single answer for service.
Chris Cruz, deputy IT director for the state government of California, said high mobile usage is well known in his circles. He cited recent research from the state’s health department showing that of the estimated 12 million Californians receiving Medicaid, more than 9 million wanted to access services through a mobile app.
Cruz said he expects demand to increase and the government’s mobile app portfolio to follow. He says the California State Laboratory of Innovation , the state’s sandbox for testing new cloud-based technologies, is heavily mobile-focused.
Unisys data shows that among those who prefer mobile access, more than half would prefer to use a single app to access services, another emerging trend in government technology toward which some states – like Tennessee and Michigan – are now striving, but none have mastered yet.
Security and privacy concerns are a priority for top IT officials at the government level. As NASCIO frequently points out, cybersecurity has been the top priority in his constituency for the past five years and will likely continue to occupy that place as long as major breaches and ransomware infections grab the headlines.
Cruz said that while it is the responsibility of device manufacturers to address security gaps, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that its applications are standardized for security and to minimize risk, whatever the platform. This is essential, he said, especially since he believes apps and mobile devices will become more mainstream in government.
“I think this is the way of the future,” he said.