October 22, 2008 By Corey McKenna
at the docks for their charter without a fishing license; either not realizing that one was needed or assuming it would be provided. This omission put both the angler and the charter operator at risk, while the state was missing out on licensing revenue. The solution: fishing licenses in the form of a text message stored on the angler's cell phone. The angler visited a Web site specially designed to be viewed on a mobile device, and within three minutes could obtain a license. As a result, thousands of anglers in Michigan have used the service to obtain a license, and neither users or licensing officers have reported any problems.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources was the first agency to pilot a major policy shift toward accepting text messages stored on a mobile device as proof of licensure, balancing the need for a paper license with the convenience of buying a license online. And neither DNR licensing officers or applicants for the licenses reported any problems with the system.
Michigan sees mobile devices as "the emerging channel of choice for the next generation of citizens," according to the state's Digital States 2008 entry. Michigan sees DNR's success with issuing fishing licenses via a mobile device as an opportunity to issue other licenses (e.g. special permits for building trades) via a cell phone as well. In fact, there isn't an agency in state government involved in licensing an activity that could not benefit from DNR's mobile licensing solution, according to the state's survey response.
Clearly, Michigan deserves the mantle of a Digital State. As technology implementation continues in Michigan, the rest of the country may yet see the possibilities of living digitally, while elected officials will see the benefits that working digitally can bring to state government efficiency and their residents' quality of life.
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