Make e-government mobile is the message

1 May 2007

If extremely sophisticated mobile government services are available in other countries, why can’t they be made available by the Irish Government, asked the IBEC-backed Mobile Messaging Forum (MMF).

MMF director Tommy McCabe said key information such as CAO results, NCT tests, driving test appointments and hospital appointments should be made available to the citizens of Ireland.

McCabe pointed to figures from the Central Statistics Office 2006 report on the Information Society, which showed that while only 60pc of homes have PCs,100pc have mobile phones.

“Online e-government services have given Irish citizens vastly improved access to public sector information and facilities, and at a much lower cost to the taxpayer,” McCabe said.

“But accessing these services requires a computer, whereas allowing mobiles to access these services will bring the benefits to a much broader swathe of society.

“Inclusion has often been raised as a concern when providing services online – many people do not have a PC, and not all those that do have access to the internet.

“The ubiquity of mobile phones allows Government to reach almost all parts of our society by adding mobile access to existing online services,” McCabe said.

The manager of Enterprise Ireland’s digital media division Michael Cantwell said there were industrial and economic benefits to the Irish Government placing information services on mobile.

“Ireland is one of the most advanced countries in the world in mobile messaging and data services,” Cantwell said.

“We have a very healthy, locally based mobile applications and services industry comprising indigenous Irish-owned companies – many of whom are doing extremely well here and internationally.

“If we develop these services in Ireland then there will be opportunities for Irish companies to deliver them in other nations; building this type of knowledge-based export market is crucial for Ireland’s economic future,” Cantwell said.

By John Kennedy