Citizens want eGovernment, but wary of data breaches

Survey finds support for single mobile app to access multiple government services.

Australians want to be able to deal with all levels of government online but they remain wary of how governments treat their private information.

That’s among the key findings of major survey of over 5,000 people in five countries across Asia Pacific about how they prefer to engage with government.

More than one quarter (1,329) of the respondents were from Australia.

The report, commissioned by IT services company Unisys, found that half of Australian respondents prefer online channels in their interaction with government, rather than phone and in-person interactions.

This is a significant increase from 29 per cent in 2016.

There is also high support for a single mobile app to access multiple government services.

The research also found that more than three quarters (80 per cent) of Australians believe government agencies already share citizen demographic data.

Their support for data sharing depends on the purpose and perceived benefit. Support is strongest (48 per cent) when data sharing enables law enforcement agencies to identify crime and terrorism.

Concerns around data sharing

However, at the same time, many people said that they didn’t want the government to share their data.

The reasons they gave included:

  • “it’s not clear to me how the government will use the data” (62 per cent)
  • “it infringes my right to privacy” (58 per cent)
  • “my data will not protected from an internal accidental security breach” (54 per cent).

The study was conducted by Omnipoll and surveyed adults in Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Singapore.

Of the five countries surveyed, Australia sat in the middle in terms of preference to move to online channels, with New Zealand and Singapore registering the highest levels of support and Malaysia and the Philippines the lowest.

Prefer online for tax, information

The survey also showed that the preferred way to engage with government varied depending on the type of transaction.

Australians prefer to go online to complete their tax returns and find information about public services. But they want in-person interactions to obtain or renew a driver’s license, passport or building permit.

Online and in-person channels are preferred to apply for benefit payments, whereas phone calls and online are preferred to report incidents and issues to local council for action.

Lysandra Schmutter, vice president public sector for Unisys Asia Pacific, said that understanding the customer journey is vital for successful digital transformation in government.

“This insight is important for key digital government initiatives, such as where the New South Wales government has set a target to have 70 per cent of transactions completed digitally by 2019.

“Our research reveals that citizens indeed want to engage with government in different ways depending on the objective of the interaction, and that these needs should be taken into account when designing digital strategies for government agencies.”

Access through apps, mobiles

Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of Australians want a single mobile app that gives access to multiple government agencies, whereas only 41 per cent say they would download individual apps for each department.

Almost half (47 per cent) want to access government websites via their phones. Of the five countries surveyed, New Zealanders and Australians have the lowest support for using social media to engage with government (13 and 17 per cent respectively).

The report is available here.

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