Now…everywhere you go, governments have access to and produce the huge amounts of information. That it is stored in different locations and different formats notwithstanding(sigh), the government of Kenya stands to benefit most from the adoption of mobile and online platforms to engage with its citizens.
In Korea for example, the government is planning to launch a mobile application store before the end of its second quarter. With the likes of Nokia – with Ovi, Safaricom – with Safaricom Live (which they did not get the .com for, which was subsequently taken by some chap), Apple – with the Appstore, Symbiotic – with KeleleMobile putting out their own tools and platforms, the government should smell the coffee and join the revolution.
There are a couple of reasons why this makes sense…three to be precise 1. The government will create lower barriers to entry for innovative firms in the public sector to build applications that feed of the vast data and information that government churns out every day. This means that government can create an additional revenue stream which isn’t such a bad idea knowing that our “development partners” may still be recovering from that monster of a global economic crisis.
2. Everyone is doing it. While my mother warned me that just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it is right…one should read the mood of the world. Where are headed? This vision 2030, is it aligned to the where the world is going?
Some quick examples for you who may think – Ni wapi kwingine this has been done (Where else in the world has this been done?).
In February, Obama’s government made pubic their intention to launch an online portal for mobile applications to extend government services onto smart phones. WhiteHouse itself has an Iphone app which provides users with news, blogs and streaming video.
Bwana Alfred Mutua has shown his skill in the direction and production of local programs – Beba Beba and Cobra Squad and I am almost certain he can do a mobisodes with the government announcements which I can show him how to sambaza (distribute) to the Mwananchi.
In the UK, there’s a site called Data.gov.uk which essentially provides non-personal information to developers to enable then create applications. Not quite sure what information I would consider non-personal since everything that the government has on me I feel is ubber personal.
The guys in Paris have also launched a mobile app portal offering 24 free mobile apps in the areas of law, culture, education, employment, consumer affairs, disability, health, senior citizens, tourism.
3. At every government meet up where PS Bitange or Bwana Paul Kukubo speak, the buzz is on local content. Government I believe will lead the uptake of local content, whether consumed via mobile apps, mobile web or regular internet. Other mobile providers e.g. Nokia, Apple, RIM, etc.) should work closely with the governments and local mobile app developers/content developers to better provide localized mobile applications. Would Ovi be compatible to a government powered platform? Dorothy or Agatha would be best placed to answer this…I should drop them a line. (Derailed: the Nokia Ovi happy hour was quite a blast last night, save for the pounding rain which delayed arrivals. Drinks on the house, good company, latest gadgets on hand for the guys who best presented their favorite Ovi apps. I want to see more local apps on the Ovi store. I know ours – Symbiotic is almost out and Agatha of Nokia tells me they are about to begin an Ovi awareness drive that will see them showcase tow local apps…can’t wait to see those ). Safaricom, Zain or is it Bharti, Orange and Yu stand to benefit greatly as this government centric store will boost their revenues especially so on data and sms.
I know I said three but…Money money money…you can make money by saving money, and / or generating revenue. The government would achieve this in one fell swoop. How exactly they get to doing this is a story for another day…now lets see if I can get to this Connected Government Summit to give my two cents and a concrete way forward. If there’s progress on this front, you can be sure I will let you know.