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.
UK ‘internet landscape’ stats slide from recent presentation.
Might find it useful.
The Internet is 40 in 2009, the World Wide Web is 20
Global Internet usage reached more than 1 billion unique visitors in December 2008 (ComScore 2009)
Almost 16.5 million households in the UK had internet access in 2008. This represents nearly two thirds of the total households in UK, and a rise of more than 1.2 million since 2007 (ONS 2008)
70% of Britons use web, 30% do not (OxIS 2009)
The online population now reflects the demographic make-up of the UK as a whole, with a 52%/48% male/female split. 21% of internet users are 25 to 34 years and at the other end of the spectrum, the over-50s now represent 30% of total time spent online. (BMRB Internet Monitor 2009)
33% of British users have 7 or more years of experience using the web (OxIS 2009)
51% of British users rate their skills as good (OxIS 2009)
89% of UK users felt fairly or very confident about their critical skills such as evaluating the credibility of a source online (OxIS 2009)
The UK has the most active online population in Europe, with the highest average number of daily visitors (21.8m), the highest usage days per month (21 per user), and the highest average time spent per month per user (34.4 hours). (ComScore 2009)
Trust in the internet is growing, and is higher than television and newspapers/magazines (which still best the internet for entertainment purposes) (OxIS 2009)
38% of Internet users had met someone on the Internet they did not know before (OxIS 2009)
Most internet users believe that the use of the Internet is of value in creating opportunities for personal, financial and economic advantage (OxIS 2009)
38% of professionals believe the internet makes them more productive (OxIS 2009)
49% of adults had used an internet banking service, 34% had sought health-related information, 25% had looked for a job or made a job application and 31% had looked for information on education, training or courses. (ONS 2008)
One fifth (21%) of Internet users undertook at least one civic action on the Internet, compared to one third (34%) of users who had done this offline. (OxIS 2009)
Use of government services online was undertaken by a relatively large proportion of the population (59% in 2009) and increased considerably since 2005. (OxIS 2009)
44% users have posted photos online, 33% have posted on message boards, 22% have a blog, 19% had commented on someone else’s blog, 8% had contributed to a wiki (OxIS 2009)
One in every six minutes the average internet user spends online are spent on a social media channel (Neilsen Online 2009)
47 per cent of Britons online use Facebook (Neilsen Online 2009)
UK internet traffic to video websites has increased by 40.7% over the last 12 months. Twenty hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute. (Hitwise 2008)
As of December 2008, 12.9 million people, or around 25 per cent of the population, used mobile internet. 19-34 year olds are most likely to use the mobile to access internet. (ComScore 2008)
Web access is the single biggest obstacle to digital engagement and no one knows the true nature of the challenge; it’s all anecdotal.
There is a tension between the craftsman and assembly-line approaches to civil service working. It seems to be an argument about quality. Perhaps we need to look to collaborative NPD methods for a compromise and the stride forward. I found a paper on the subject by Ingvild Sundby stimulated some ideas.
It’s no secret that the Government was preparing for a flu pandemic – featuring as high as it did in the 2008 National Risk Register. And although the actual outbreak came out of the blue, it’s been acknowledged that the UK was pretty well prepared both in clinical and communications terms.
The COI has been working for a number of months on pandemic flu preparedness (with the Department of Health as the lead department) because from the off the government recognised the importance of digital media for not only getting the word out but for also getting it back.
The report is really very good. The recommendations it makes have ambition but are also achievable. It goes to show what can be done by taskforces made up of government insiders and outsiders given a clear remit, enough time and sufficient gravitas.
But it could be sharper and stronger.
I’ve added specifics to the commentable version.
What I want to raise here – for lack of a better place – are three more general concerns.
1. More good news... I expected far more of reporting on what has been achieved by government since the original review. Partly because it encourages those who have done good work to keep going, and partly because it encourages the uninitiated or blockers to get involved. Think this would be quite easy for the Taskforce to include because they all know what’s been going on and who’s been behind it.
2. Focus on freeing up information… When the Taskforce talks geo-spatial data, right of re-use, IT access and the like, it makes a great appraisal of what’s wrong and a fantastic case for how it could be done better (roughly, Recommendations 9 – 22). When it drifts off into the policy dialogues, forums and guidance, it all gets woollier and less convincing. These recommendations seem less well-researched and bit too narrow, like an after-thought. By all means reference how the likes of online policy dialogues could be improved by civil servant participation and better access to raw data, but keep it as a prospective benefit to be explored rather than recommending particular courses of action.
3. Make the case… A 10 million pound government innovation budget would be so exciting! But make the case. Is that a lot or a little compared to what? Where should efforts be directed – sites, mash-ups, skills? And what would the prospective results?
This will be the first of a flurry of online campaigning analysis as minds begin to focus on a general election at some point in the next two years.
Online campaigning is interesting for lots of different reasons: for academics it means data, the media see a rich source of scoops, and the parties see massive PR potential, if not a direct route to voters. No prizes for guessing what new media consultants see. For the electorate, online campaigning should mean having access to a sufficient amount of information on which to base informed decisions.
While all are agreed on the desirability of electioneering online, there is no agreement on what is feasible and what is worth doing. Online campaigning is still a ‘grey area’, which makes it a nightmare for the regulators – and probably the electorate – but while everything is up for grabs it also means that online campaigning is a rich source of innovation in a otherwise pretty mundane area of politics.