The future is mobile but government is stuck in the past?

Mark Drapeau, Director of Innovative Social Engagement, Microsoft, says the future is mobile, but is government stuck in the past?

About Mark Drapeau

Dr. Mark Drapeau is Director of Innovative Social Engagement for Microsoft's U.S. Public Sector division in Washington, D.C. He is also an adjunct professor at the School of Media and Public Affairs of The George Washington University, and until recently a research fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy in Washington, DC. Mark is also a contributing writer for Federal Computer Week, where he writes about emerging media technologies and how they are changing government and the balance of power in society. Mark is also a co-founder of Government 2.0 Club, an international platform for sharing knowledge about the intersection between technology and governance. And, in the spirit of openness and transparency, he is an avid mindcaster on Twitter.

4 Responses

  1. You’re exactly right.

    And I would even go farther than just government employees. It’s unfortunate but the simple truth that a vast majority of the advocacy organizations that help push government to make changes are stuck in the dark ages as well. At least that’s been my experience. You might have a couple figureheads that are plugged in to social media, but the general staff are dealing with some of the same antiquated tools.

  2. Mostly if not exclusively for transactional purposes (license fee payment, report pot hole) or to receive push communication (amber alert/traffic reports). There is certainly potential for mobile devices to serve as engagement tool (polling/weekly surveys/input on or response to policies).

    Consider the town hall meeting setting. One way to enlist audience support (beyond public comment) is to use interactive push button devices to collect audience responses. That interaction is expensive and limited to those in attendance. Now replace that device with the personal cell phone, broadcast the same meeting via web or public access tv and use dial pad to enter responses and engagement costs go way, way down and audience participation goes way up, or has potential to.

  3. Mark,

    What a great question. I’m interested in hearing the responses as well. Like you, my experience with government representatives has shown that the majority are still using early generation Blackberries or more traditional mobile phones, vs. using more current smart phones.

    Given the trend towards smart phones within the citizenry, I do wonder how those with access only to older mobile devices can fully understand the potential for such devices as platforms for open government and substantially improved citizen services. As a solution architect, I’ve always found it critical to actually use the tools of my targeted user base so that I have a deeper appreciation for the opportunities to improve and innovate.

  4. (Disclaimer: I am a govt. employee, but speaking for myself only, not for my agency.) I think govt. is very much aware of what’s going on and NOT stuck in the past. The challenge we face is to 1) bring together many stakeholders with divergent interests and 2) comply with a maze of laws, regulations, policies, etc. in a world that is changing very quickly. We all agree gov. needs to be more nimble, but to accomplish this there will need to be support from both internal and external stakeholders.


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