Establishing Sustainable Mobile Government

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Mobile government (mGov) offers great promise for high-impact solutions and greater reach than other technologies. Most successful mGov initiatives are oriented on essential social, citizen-oriented or administrational challenges. | © sentavio, Freepik

Mobile government (mGov)offers great promise for high-impact solutions and greater reach than other technologies. Governments can tap into the many use cases of mGov by testing them against the local context and tailoring them to the specific circumstances and conditions of the community or region.

We recently published a How-to-Note on mGov that provides policymakers and practitioners with a holistic framework and recommendations. In this note, we differentiate potential mGov solutions according to different levels of development.

strategy and policy, Govtech, mobile government, mGov, World Bank
Approach, Govtech, mobile government, mGov, World Bank
Technology and architecture security, Govtech, mobile government, mGov, World Bank

Let’s look at ten recommendations that can apply to all levels of mGov development:

  1. Set up cross-agency coordination and strategy. A central board for coordination and cross-agency strategy can enable citizen-centricity and cost efficiencies. A mobile-first strategy can increase the penetration of digital solutions and reduce personal interaction with the bureaucracy. Besides this strategy, Austria, for example, is adopting the ‘only once’ principle, where citizens provide their data once in the system to access different services across the government.
  2. Establish a legal and policy framework. A framework provides the authorizing environment for sustainable, efficient digital public service delivery and mobile government that transcends political cycle and leadership tenures.
  3. Identify essential challenges and quick wins. mGov solutions are most successful if they address and solve key social and administrative challenges.  Quick-win solutions for high-demand services can demonstrate impressive benefits without waiting for full backend automation.
  4. Promote use cases for low-tech phones. Developing countries can achieve impactful results with the use of simple, low-tech mGov solutions such as public information services.  For example, broadcast messages about clean drinking water, famine, pests, vaccines, and voting. Data collection for electoral rolls, child and maternity nutrition. Citizen engagement through feedback on infrastructure projects, violence, bribery, and digital payments (welfare and subsidies).
  5. Form skilled teams. Interdisciplinary teams with design thinking facilitators, process owners, user experience and cybersecurity experts, architects, and developers are best suited to design citizen-centric user journeys. Agile innovation labs that bring together key stakeholders from multiple agencies, businesses, and citizens can act as catalysts for innovative mobile solutions.
  6. Drive user-centric approach and co-creation. Integrating users into an iterative cycle of design, development, prototyping, testing, and implementation enables fast development of cost-efficient mGov solutions that address user needs.  Cooperating with the private sector and social organizations can create win-win situations and a real one-stop shop experience.
  7. Establish architectural layers with shared digital services. A whole-of-government technology architecture with shared building blocks helps avoid redundancies. Initiatives may vary in focus and required effort, ranging from short-term to long-term. Elements may include identification and authentication, digital payment, push notification systems, central data management, enterprise buses, information security services, and application development tools.
  8. Adopt inclusive and equitable approaches for accessibility. Involving a broad range of user profiles in the design and testing phase ensure that underserved communities, such as people with disabilities, low digital skills, the elderly, and those with slow connectivity, benefit from mGov solutions.
  9. Increase affordability. Unaffordable prices are among the highest barriers to adopting data services. Initiatives that make mobile subscriptions and devices affordable to the poor will promote mGov and digital transformation.  
  10. Ensure trustful conditions and a high level of information security. Principles like data minimization and Privacy by Design help establish a high level of information security, especially for devices with low security in the mobile network infrastructure.

Besides the user-centric approach to developing sustainable mobile government, the How-to-Note shows an example of user-centric design along the Austrian mGov one-stop shop “Digitales Amt,” lessons learned from failed projects, and a sample approach using an example of disaster and crisis preparedness.


Khuram Farooq

Senior Financial Management Specialist

Peter Kustor

Director for International and Legal Affairs

Gerhard Embacher-Köhle

Innovation Manager of the Austrian Federal Computing Center and Consultant to the World Bank

Daniel Medimorec

Deputy Head of Unit Digital and International Affairs at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance

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