Government's digital plans unheard of - survey

Did you know the government plans to go digital? According to a Gallup survey commissioned by computer firm Bull, the majority of people in the U.K. are unaware of the government's plans for a digital future.

In March the government announced it is to deliver 100 percent of its services electronically by 2008 -- a fact that has gone largely unnoticed by the public according to the poll. Only 12 percent of respondents were aware of the plans.

The report also highlights scepticism about how the government will deliver its 100 percent e-government promise. 41 percent of those surveyed identified low levels of access to technology as a key problem. Bull CEO Barry Grisdale believes the government needs a carefully orchestrated marketing plan to educate the public about e-government and provide the means for the public to communicate with government departments. "The government needs to embark on a major e-government strategy," he says. This would include working closely with private industry to provide multimedia kiosks and Internet access in banks, supermarkets and other public places.

On the bright side, the survey found that 69 percent of respondents believe e-government -- once it was explained to them -- could improve services.

Potential improvements include:

  • Instant access to medical records

  • Benefit payments online

  • Central store for benefit information

  • Electronic voting

  • 24 hour access to government information.

Public attitude to smart cards has also changed dramatically according to the survey. Previously the idea of electronic identity cards scored a low on the acceptance rating, not least because of ‘big brother' fears about government monitoring. The Bull report found 43 percent now have no problem with the idea of smart cards.