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)?

Fixing Up My Street

A friend of mine sent me an article by Stephen F. King in eGov Monitor. It’s a balanced, insightful review of FixMyStreet, a website produced by data-fiddlers, MySociety.

Funny coincidence, because I’d been getting increasingly pissed off by fly-tipping on my street and the failure of the local council to clear it (despite the fact that street cleaning staff pass it daily). Glasgow City Council’s own online reporting service is so very flat, form-based and practically impossible to find that my mind turned to alternatives.

FixMyStreet is one such ‘community problem reporter’ service. And I heard about another called Community Fix, offered up by Dial Media Group.

The big difference between them is in the looks department – Community Fix has a far better user interface and uses Google Maps which helps, whereas FixMyStreet is simple and functional but very brown and seems to be using quite outdated maps.

The big similarity between them is that neither service can guarantee that the problem will get fixed.

I think this is the fundamental flaw in both. Both sites have good technology going on, but they haven’t thought through the process as well as they could. Continue reading “Fixing Up My Street”