Recent Omnibus polling indicates that a clear majority (77%) of the UK population approve of government investment in IT to improve their access to services.
Approval is marginally higher still amongst the 55+ age group, confounding the view that online services are viewed more favourably by the young or so-called ‘early adopters’.
42% of respondents, while positive, expressed concern about the cost of Government IT projects, but only 4% felt negative about their personal use of new communications methods to access government services.
The polling points to clear opportunity for the next government. It demonstrates that there is an overwhelming public appetite for the use of technology to improve access to local and national government services. The poll also indicates that the public are prepared to embrace innovative communications methods.
Asked what would most improve access to public services, 53% of respondents were in favour of one memorable number for contact with all government services. The memorable phone number was most popular with the 55+ age bracket.
A quarter of respondents (24%) were in favour of their own Web page for accessing services, a proposal outlined by the Government several weeks ago. More popular were mobile applications. Amongst the 18-34 year old age group 26% favoured the use of mobile applications. 17% of the 18-34 year old age bracket favoured an iPhone-style app for communication with government services.
The three favoured methods of accessing local council services are phone (68%), e-mail (66%) and access via the internet (63%). Fewer than half chose mail (48%) or visits to council offices (47%).
The use of technology to access services is now woven in to practically every part of our lives and in the years ahead it will be even more so, with the public accessing services via Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. The best uses of technology will be the ones that create an intelligent glue between the consumer and the person responsible for service delivery regardless of where either of them are.
Looking at frustrations with accessing local council services, 42% said that no one seemed to want to take responsibility for handling their enquiry, 40% said there was too much buck passing and 36% cited slow service. 25% said that services were behind the times or that there was not enough emphasis on online services.
Looking at the topics that respondents are most likely to contact local councils about, the following were the most likely:
- Environment (pollution, waste, vandalism) – 65%
2. Roads – 64%
3. Rates – 43%
4. Leaks – 37%
5. Parking – 35%
I am encouraged that all major political parties are making positive manifesto commitments to the use of technology and our polling suggests that there is widespread public support especially when technology makes access to services more efficient.