This is the second in a series of blogs on the Digital Citizen. The first, ‘The Emergence of the Digital Citizen – Part One’ outlines my thoughts on how the use of new technologies ,like social media and smart phones, have gone mainstream everywhere except government. That said, this blog highlights a few great examples of government organizations that have successfully leveraged these Digital Citizen technologies, which show where government is headed.
Given that citizens increasingly expect more from government, having already adopted more and more digital channels in their personal lives, it is no surprise that government is starting to support communication via digital channels. Let me outline just three examples:
- The Voice – “I want to be heard…”
- The Sensor – “I want to help…”
- The Tax Payer – “I expect…”
The Voice – “I want to be heard…”
Government organizations seem to be either very afraid of social media or very excited about it.
There are an increasing number of smart phone apps that enable citizens to report problems and tell their friends about it. Most government organizations I’ve spoken to, perhaps not unsurprisingly, do not like this aspect of social media (which is why KANA currently does not offer this facility in KANA Mobile).
That said, almost everyone likes the idea of being able to “tap into” the ‘social chatter’ across social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as it offers the potential to:
- get unfettered views on public sentiment (e.g. on Public Policy)
- gather intelligence on criminal threats
- offer pro-active customer service, nipping concerns posted on social media sites in the bud before they become major issues
- pro-actively manage large events such as sporting events, festivals or Christmas parades
At KANA, we think this offers fantastic potential too, which is why we are trialling our social media product, Lagan Experience Analytics, with a number of government organizations now and we will be posting the results of these endeavours in the coming months.
The Sensor – “I want to help…”
Who’d have thought it? Citizens wanting to help government deliver services? David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, first mooted this ‘Big Society’ idea as part of his 2010 election campaign and, it’s fair to say, didn’t get a positive reaction to it. But yet, there are examples of it happening today.
One of these is in Boston, Massachusetts, who were (I believe) the first in the world to launch an integrated smart phone app with their 311 customer service solution (the KANA Lagan product). Whilst they expected people to report issues as they found them, they did not expect that a small core number of people would actually go out for city walks with the express intention of reporting problems on the city’s smart phone app. This unexpected benefit means that the city is finding out about issues sooner than previously possible, resulting in such citizens being termed ‘sensors’.
Boston have now taken this a step further with their 2012-launched ‘street bump’ app.
The Tax Payer – “I expect…”
I’ve deliberately left this until last, because while the previous two offer benefits to government, it’s important to remember that the citizen is the one ultimately paying for government services and they are expecting a lot more today than they were five years ago.
So, what are they expecting? Well, let’s start with a single web site that provides them with appropriately secured but convenient access to government services. Let’s continue with a smart phone app that does the same, but is optimized for a mobile device. Let’s finish (for now) with the ability to pick up the phone when they absolutely have to and get answered straight away because, let’s face it, nobody likes to wait for someone to answer the phone.
Clearly, this presents a huge challenge to government.
You can read more about my thoughts on these challenges together with my suggestions on how to overcome them in the last part of this ‘Digital Citizen’ series of blogs, which is coming soon. I’m also speaking about this subject at Citizen 2012 today (28th July 2012)
As always, do let me know your thoughts on this subject!
(David Moody is VP Product Marketing, KANA)