Recent data indicates that the world’s citizens want an increasingly digital government, including more online access to government services — but these systems first need to be implemented more effectively to maximize their impact.
The term “government services” usually goes hand-in-hand with a groan. The long lines, the bureaucratic red-tape, the mind-boggling amount of time it takes to complete even the simplest of tasks — it’s problems like these that have created the negative stigma that surrounds most of our government services today.
We live in an age when the lines between digital and reality are getting blurrier by the minute. There was a time when getting nearly anything done in this world required your actual, physical presence. Nowadays, we can make airline reservations, order pizza, or even buy a fancy sportscar with the simple push of a button on a smartphone.
Considering the fact that the entire world is literally at our fingertips, there isn’t really a viable excuse for wasting an entire afternoon at the DMV anymore.
The People Have Spoken
What’s clear is that people want more access to government services through digital channels. Pew Research recently indicated that 82% of Internet users (equivalent to about 61% of American adults) have actively engaged with these digital channels since government agencies began to bring their services online in the early 2000s.
And it’s not just Americans that are calling for more digital access to government services. A recent survey from Accenture suggests that over 81% of citizens from 10 major countries around the world consider increasing the number of government services available online a major priority.
Pew also found that many Americans feel that social media could be more effectively utilized to make agencies and officials more accessible, and to help keep people informed about what the government is up to.
A Better-Connected Tomorrow
A digital government — what many have come to refer to as e-government — runs on a more efficient and reactive system. Online access to government services wouldn’t just be more convenient for busy American citizens, but would also cut significantly into governmental spending across a wide range of services.
Imagine a world where we no longer have to stand in long lines at government offices in order to complete relatively minor bureaucratic tasks, what an online voting system could do to enhance our democracy by allowing otherwise silent voices to be heard, or how the ubiquitous power of social media could be harnessed in order to spread important information quickly in the wake of a national emergency or disaster. These are only a few of the seemingly endless ways that digital government stands to make us stronger and more united as a country.
And yet the United States, arguably the most powerful and advanced nation in the world, is ranked sixth in its implementation of government services through digital channels. The President has said, “I want us to ask ourselves every day, how are we using technology to make a real difference in people’s lives?” The answer is to give the American people what they want: a seamlessly integrated platform that makes interacting with, understanding, and benefiting from government services as easy as ordering a pizza.