Consumer demand for mobile services untapped by public sector

·         A third of consumers want to interact with their GPs via their mobile, e.g. SMS appointment alerts ·         A quarter are keen to receive regular SMS alerts from their local council ·         Passport applications, parking charges and car tax renewal also interest consumers ·         Over half of consumers claim cost and security concerns would prevent them accessing government services via their mobile New research released today by O2 reveals an untapped demand among consumers for government to provide access to more services via mobiles.  The survey, undertaken to investigate consumer attitudes to mobile government services, showed that interacting with GPs via their mobiles is the service that people would most like to see, with almost one in three respondents claiming they would use this function. One in four consumers were interested in receiving regular SMS alerts from their local council covering service news or changes, while 23% would pay for parking using their mobile.  One in five respondents would like to renew their car tax via SMS, while the same number would like to receive SMS travel updates and SMS alerts about changes to tax credits or benefits that directly affect them.  Even when it comes to communicating sensitive information, the survey identified surprising pockets of demand, with 22% of respondents willing to apply for or renew their passport via their mobile phone. However, current service provision appears to be lagging behind consumer demand, with 75% of respondents claiming to be unaware of any mobile government initiatives in their area and 83% having never accessed any such service.  45% of people claimed to be confused and ill-informed as to what government mobile services are currently offered or planned in their area. Even in those areas where mobile initiatives do exist, significant barriers continue to hamper their adoption – 53% of respondents claimed that concerns over cost would prevent them from accessing government services via their mobile, while half of those surveyed had security worries.  42% of respondents had no confidence that government would be able to run satisfactory services using mobile technology. Mark Stansfeld, Sales Director at O2 UK, commented:  “Any public sector service looking to serve its customers would do well to respond to this demand for mobile services.  Whether it’s sending a text message to their GP to cancel an appointment, paying for parking or reporting flytipping, people want to be able to communicate via their mobiles because it’s quick and simple.  Furthermore, with mobile penetration exceeding that of home PCs, mobile solutions can help public sector organisations to bridge the digital divide – democratising access for those who may not be able to use internet-based government services and thus engaging harder-to-reach audiences.” Other key points include: Ø      Respondents have a clear picture of the benefits of mobile government services – nearly half said communicating with government via their mobile would save them time and over a third believe it would help them to receive more up-to-date information.   Ø      In order to take full advantage of the services on offer, 45% of those surveyed expressed a desire for a single point of contact where they could register for different e-government mobile services. Ø      Mobile solutions for communicating with government are most popular among young people.  Almost half of respondents aged 18 to 24 would use their mobile to vote, while 41% would renew their passport and 39% would pay for parking via their mobile. These findings highlight that mobile solutions have the potential to engage consumers whom the public sector has struggled to reach. Mark Stansfeld continued:  “There is clearly a huge untapped demand for mobile services, but they must be properly targeted, well communicated and efficiently managed.  If consumers can see that the services are secure and reasonably priced, mobile communication will provide the public sector with a real boost to its community relations, without the high costs associated with traditional modes of communication such as direct mail.”