London councils to deliver public services via mobile phones

London council services are being mobile-enabled in a bid to cut costs and interact with people lacking broadband access.

London council services are being mobile-enabled in a bid to cut costs and interact with people lacking broadband access.

The Mylomo service will be delivered on the dotMobi platform and will enable users to contact their council via text messaging for services such as refuse collections, as well as providing access to local news and job vacancies.

Trey Harvin, CEO of dotMobi said, "Mylomo works on any phone, any network and is not cost-prohibitive for consumers. Local government now has a new way of interacting directly with people that will bring financial benefits as well as new services that are accessible and inclusive."

Digital champion Martha Lane Fox recently commented that 80% of government interactions are with the bottom 25% of income earners - who are least likely to have internet access. By keeping them offline, the cost of local government is being made unnecessarily high, she added.

According to Lane Fox, as many as 10 million people in the UK have never accessed the internet.

Guy Giles, operations director at digital inclusion body Looking Local, said there are clear financial benefits in developing government channels of communication through text messaging and other media.

"While some people prefer to be dealt with face-to-face, there are many who are happy to self-serve given the opportunity. And by helping them do so we are able to shift traffic away from our call centres," he said.

John Proctor, e-business support officer at Worthing Council, said the local authority is already providing a text service to people for event notifications. "We are also looking at using this system as an appointment reminder, which could save money as a way of preventing missed appointments," he said.

However, Andrew Wilson, director at text messaging service Thumbprint City, said a lot of councils have been slow to change the way they engage with people.

"The public sector is still using texts in a very generic way. Councils will often send people information about all sorts of events, but they fail to realise that because it's a very personal medium people only want to receive information that is relevant to them," he said.

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