Moonpig will buyover Google in 2010

'Hands free mobile' by Obi-Akpere

I won’t be making too many predictions like the one above. But one I am happy to put my name to is that 2010 will be the year of mobile.

Whether mobile will take off or not this year has been the subject of much discussion with colleagues. There’s a lot of caution; many of us have been burnt by previous false dawns. But against the evidence – massive penetration of cheap smart phones, uptake of mobile broadband and the explosion of apps –  we have to be more ambitious about mobile in 2010.

From my vantage, the world of democracy and politics will be very much part of this mobile bonanza. Here are three prime areas:

1. General Election campaigning
Every party, media outlet and activist group will make extensive use of the web – that’s a given. It will be in the use of mobile that innovations and headlines will be made.

Whether its micro-donations to parties, opposition flash-mobs at events or manifestos in 160 characters – the mobile will make the election feel closer, more personal and more accessible.

Overkill, imposition and data security will all prove problematic.

2. Social marketing
As the functionality of mobiles increases, so the costs of social marketing via mobiles will decrease.

Government marketers have long been interested in mobile, and with the ability to run cheaper, better targeted campaigns we will rush to mobile in our droves. Expect lots of location-based games and personalised advice through apps.

The challenges will be around monitoring, evaluation and creativity (i.e. how to make it look and feel cool).

3. Service delivery
Fuelled by the sudden windfall of public sector data, we can expect a boom in mobile-based interaction with public services.

It is likely that most of these will be packaged up by social enterprises but government will also get involved, especially local authorities. Prime for development will be emergency services, transport infrastructure and environmental services.

Data security, security of payments and records management will prove problematic.

Only time will tell…

What’s in your crystal ball (app)?

‘Digital Democracy’ Predictions for 2009

I’m into my second year of blogging, and this year is almost done. So I thought I’d celebrate and sign off for 2008 with a few ‘digital democracy’ predictions for 2009.

I can’t emphasise enough that none of these predictions are based on inside knowledge of existing plans. I just thought it would be fun to reflect and have a go at judging the way the digital wind is blowing into the year to come.

Here goes…

  1. A ‘household name’ government department will launch a large-scale crowd-sourcing site for the purposes of problem-solving. Not a one-off PR exercise; it’ll be something more like what we are used to from the likes of Dell and InnoCentive but it will have to be even more efficient and incisive. It will go through a bunch of phases before the department gets it right.
  2. Two states will be at loggerheads over the way one of them has been using the web to engage the citizens of the other. It won’t be cyber-warfare, more a gentlemanly disagreement, but it will spark a debate that’s been long overdue.
  3. A local government will fall head-over-heels in love with the promise of eDemocracy and launch into an ambitious project to put digital front-and-centre of its democratic processes and service provision. It will be facilitated with next-generation municipal ICT and it will capture our imaginations but it will come at a price.
  4. We’ll all be fascinated with what Obama does in office, but he’s going to have to work hard to live up to the standards we became accustomed to over the course of the presidential campaign. I reckon he will pull it off.
  5. The UK Parliament will launch a virtual-version of Westminster Hall debates. The MPs will love it, the officials will be tearing their hair out.
  6. The ‘digerati’ will freak at all this good stuff coming out of political institutions because it takes away the founding basis of their books, lectures, sites and films – that institutions and elected representatives don’t get people and they sure as hell don’t get digital. It will take them a while to get their heads round it, there will be a lot of foot-stamping and door-slamming, but then there will always be consultancies.
  7. A government department will move away from a standard homepage to a drag-and-drop dashboard model. Others will quickly follow.
  8. Sadly there will be a disaster somewhere in the developed world but digital communications infrastructure will be sufficiently intact to play a pivotal role in dealing with the emergency and speeding up the rescue and rebuilding effort. The integrity and quality of digital infrastructure will race up the political agenda overnight.
  9. As more and more citizens come online to access services and hold their representatives to account, efforts to to promote political literacy will have to be redoubled and the volume will have to be turned up on the participative opportunities inherent in representative democracy.
  10. I will blog a lot less about digital democracy and turn to some of the other things in life that interest me.

I reckon these are all good bets – bar number 10.

What do you think?

2008 – Getting the skinny

2007 was the year of the online petition.

Downing Street invited the great British public to create and sign petitions on its website. Millions duly did and what an ‘insight’ it was. The media lost interest after a couple of months, but in eDemocracy conferences it was impossible to escape ‘the great petition debate’.

The BBC had a go. They mobilised an e-petition as part of the ‘Free Alan Johnston’ campaign. They got about 200,000 signatures from all over the world.

And even burger punters, McDonalds, had a stab. ChangeTheDefinition.com invited us to help MaccyDees to pressure the UK’s dictionary houses into dropping or rewriting the definition of ‘McJob’, which is apparently not a word with positive connotations. They even had a ad up on the big flashy boards at Piccadilly Circus. Cheeky.

2007 was the year of the online petition. Gawd. Continue reading “2008 – Getting the skinny”