Perhaps the best text message to receive would be “See you at my place. 10 minutes. Angelina J”, but given there seems no chance of that one, perhaps it is “We’ve posted your refund cheque. The Inland Revenue”. Lo and behold, two days later, I receive my cheque.
The IR have been sending text messages for over a year now – “Don’t forget to send your tax return”, “We’ve got your tax return”, “We owe you money and are just working out how much”, “You owe us money” etc – and, as far as I can tell, remain one of the few government departments to use text well or even at all.
In January 2002 I did a couple of presentations on mobile government, and even (I’ve just found via google) a couple of interviews. Even the Guardian talked about it. I am, though, more than a little disappointed to see things take so long, but I see a lot of that as a lack of engagement from the centre to reduce the complexities, e.g. what “phone number” to use, how to establish a trusted relationship, how to deal with replies, how to avoid spam and, perhaps most significantly given government’s predisposition to wordy messages, how to get your message across in 160 characters or less. Mobile isn’t the be all and end all of e-government, but it’s a channel that can be used far more, both as a reminder (as the IR principally use it) but also to convey real information. Exam results by mobile seem further away than ever. Is that because everyone gets all “A” grades now so don’t need to know?