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Leadership Perspectives

Smart Message for Citizen Engagement to Boost Smart Gov Services Uptake

In the wake of the UAE government ‘paperless’ project – with more than 96% of 337 of the nation’s most important day-to-day services now accessible via smart platforms – government officials are now working towards the next milestone: grow the smart government user base to 80% by 2018. 

To turn this figure into a reality, government officials have been asked to raise awareness of the smart government services available to citizens. Broken down, this is no mean feat. Specific lines of communication have to be opened up to better engage with end users and promote the availability of the government services now available on mobile. These communication channels, however, need to be both, effective and non-intrusive.

Today, more and more citizens rely on their mobile devices. The mobile device has in fact become the unified form factor for business, entertainment and social media interactions. Users have even grown comfortable with entering their personal information into their mobile devices, to the extent that they are now even comfortable with storing their banking credentials on their mobile devices.

So if we are looking for an efficient mass-market communication channel, we don’t have to look much further than the mobile phone. In fact, mobile phone operators, retailers and brands have been tapping into the high penetration rates of mobile phones to reach customers for years now via mobile marketing campaigns. The SMS has long been the performance benchmark for mobile messaging campaigns with an open rate of 98% compared to 22% for e-mails. What if a similar, but slightly more updated and non-intrusive method, could be employed by governments to promote their services while receiving feedback from users?

Adopting the mobile platform, however, does come stitched on with a few challenges: Will the interactive messaging work on all mobile devices, be it an iPhone or an Android device? Which operator will I need to be with to get the service enabled? Can I opt out and not be disturbed if I want to? Do I need to download something? 

For best results, the system used to communicate and raise awareness on government digital services should be agnostic to the operating system of the end user as well as agnostic to the mobile operator and should offer a means for the user to opt out.

Gemalto’s Smart Message solution, for example, engages users via one-click interaction and provides a ubiquitous user experience to all mobile phone users irrespective of the make and model of their mobile phone, which makes it a strong channel to address the masses, while still respecting an individual’s preferences through opt-in and opt-out functionalities and a centre of interest menu. 

Already operational in many countries around the world, with use cases varying from registering births to promoting digital and physical goods, the Smart Message technology has delivered an ROI two to ten times higher than simple SMS campaigns. Such an interactive channel could also be used to raise awareness on new smart mobile government services in the region.  

Of course to become a reality, the implementation of a Smart Message citizen engagement service will require the participation of the entire ecosystem – from government officials looking to promote their smart services to the region’s telecom operators such as Etisalat and du that offer the channel to the users. But, if properly implemented, such a channel can be used for citizen engagement and to subsequently boost the uptake of smart government services, thereby supporting the target of 80% mobile government services users by 2018.

Authored by Sherry Zameer, Senior Vice President Telecommunication Solutions at Gemalto

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