mGovernment Guiding Principles Page

Emmanuel C. Lallana, 2004

Some guiding principles can be laid out for those planning m-government systems, as discussed below.

Firstly, recognise that m-government is not a substitute for e-government.  Not all applications can run on mobile devices nor should they.  Not all wireless connections are cost competitive compared to wired connection.  mGovernment should be conceived and developed as part of the overall e-government strategy and programme.  The exact mix of m-government and traditional e-government applications depends on the unique conditions of each country.  An important determinant would be the state of the nation’s information infrastructure.

It is easy to build expectations but difficult to regain trust.  Citizens who are turned off by their experience with m-government are not only harder to lure back but will also bad mouth it to other.  Thus it is important to:

  • Choose m-government applications wisely.  Make sure they are non-trivial but also be careful that they are not the most difficult.
  • Make sure that the application is user-friendly.  Balance your need for information with the comfort (or frustration) level of the user with the technology.
  • In deploying m-government applications ensure that citizens get exactly what the application claims to be able to deliver in the shortest possible time.  If it is a channel to receive complaints, be sure to regularly get back to the complainants about the status of their complaint until it is resolved.  Boiler plate messages will not satisfy your citizens.
  • Ensure that there are suitable back-office systems in place to deliver on m-government promises.

Partnerships, particularly with telecommunication companies (telcos) offering cellular services, matter.  Telcos bring to the table greater knowledge about security, reliability, ease of use and affordability issues related to mobile applications.  They may also have mobile applications for business that can be adapted for government (though adaptation is the key word: m-commerce applications cannot just be pulled off the shelf for m-government).

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