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More Mobile Devices Will Impact Government IT Operations

With mobile users expected to increase by an additional 1 billion and mobile devices to hit 10 billion by 2017, governments will surely be impacted.

Three mobile trends are expected in the next four years: more users, more connections and faster speeds. And these increases are projected to impact government IT operations -- including how government agencies connect with their constituents -- according to IT executives. 

According to a new report, Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012–2017, mobile data traffic is predicted to grow over the next four years roughly capping 11.2 exabytes a month -- and major trends are expected to take place as a result of the increase. 

Also according to Cisco, in 2017 there will be 5.2 billion mobile users (up from 4.3 billion in 2012); more than 10 billion mobile devices/connections, including more than 1.7 billion mobile-to-mobile connections (up from 7 billion total mobile devices and mobile-to-mobile connections in 2012); and and average global mobile network speeds of 3.9 Mbps -- a sevenfold increase from 0.5 Mbps in 2012.

Former Seattle CTO Bill Schrier, now a senior fellow at the Center for Digital Government, which is owned by Government Technology's parent company eRepublic Inc., said statistics in this report reflect how much more businesses and consumers are moving to mobile devices as their main resources for communication and Internet access – a trend with a significant impact on state and local governments.

“Government needs to make sure all the functionality of their online presence is optimized for the screen size of tablets and smartphones,” Schrier said. “That function includes not just static information on the Web, but applications to pay bills, or view maps, or take photos of problems and send them off to their government.”

To accommodate this rising trend, Schrier said government employees will need to become better accustomed to using mobile devices for their job. Government jobs that involve public safety, such as police officers and positions in field service, will be expected to have instant access to information and applications to do their jobs properly.

And in Wake County, N.C., CIO Bill Greeves agreed, noting that over the years, governments have been collecting, sorting and using location-based data, but now that constituents have become more dependent on their mobile devices, governments must be more user-friendly by serving them through those devices. 

However, “m-dot” mobile sites are expected to go away later this year -- a trend that Greeves said he doesn’t expect governments to follow immediately. But the public sector will continue to see a rise in “device agnostic information resources and services.”

In coming years, Greeves said, geo-data will be embedded more strategically into the “presentation layer” of information delivered to constituents. While these entities will still have a single back-end engine, information will be delivered in more attractive formats that will enable governments to offer individualized location-based services instead of a generic mobile site. 

“If we can continue to find more effective ways to level the mobility and social tools that are becoming more and more common," he said, "we will find better and more lasting connections to our customers."

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Sarah Rich is a former staff writer for Government Technology.