As Australians find that more and more of their daily interactions take place in the palm of their hand, governments have no choice but to follow suit and make their services available on mobile phones.
And as smart phone and camera phone technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous, the quality of interaction that can be achieved is also expanding.
Smart Service Queensland raises this scenario for consideration:
“A member of the public finds an ant’s nest that appears to contain fire ants and using their mobile phone takes a photo and sends it via MMS to a designated Queensland Government number.
The solution recognises the location of the sending handset and forwards the received photo and location information to a Queensland Government email address.
The solution sends a reply message to the sending handset “Thank you for alerting Queensland Government to a potential fire ant nest. The photo you supplied and your location has been forwarded to a fire ant specialist for investigation.”
Smart Service Queensland, the agency in charge of improving access to government services in the state, has asked interested vendors to explain how they would provide this hypothetical service, as part of the tendering process to gain membership of a whole-of-government SMS and MMS Service panel that the agency has approached the market to establish.
With high mobile phone ownership rates across Australia, the Government SMS Service would provide a cost efficient information distribution system capable of reaching a large audience within a short timeframe.
The service will be established via an ICT Standing Offer Arrangement (SOA). Closed invitations to offer have been distributed to potential providers, outlining the necessary requirements of the plan.
Following the selection process, a panel of SMS and MMS service providers will be chosen to facilitate the scheme.
“It is anticipated that up to four (4) Offerors will be appointed to provide the services required under this SOA to ensure there is adequate coverage across Queensland,” says the ITO.
Tender documents accompanying the tender for the SMS and MMS panel indicate that Queensland is looking to take its mobile service delivery to a new level of interactivity.
Mobile services procured through the SOA will need to have the capacity to receive as well as send SMS messages.
The MMS capabilities of the system should also overcome the limitations of SMS text-based technology.
Smart Service Queensland is aiming to achieve SMS services that adhere to the following principles:
- Customer-centric Service decisions will reflect customer preferences and needs.
- Accessible The majority of Queenslanders will have easy access to Government agencies via SMS for information and services that meet their needs.
- Cost-effective To provide public value for money and minimise the costs of SMS service delivery for the State.
- Consistent Customers will experience a seamless and consistent service delivery experience across all Queensland Government agencies.
Whilst some SMS-based systems are already in place, most only contact those who have registered their details, leaving the majority of the population unaware of potentially vital information.
The Federal Government’s existing Emergency Alert System (EAS) was established following the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires. Whilst the service can distribute SMS alerts, its primary function is to deliver verbal warnings to recipients.
However, numerous Queensland councils did not opt to join the EAS, leaving many residents unaware of the floods until it was too late.
SMS and MMS based services are also emerging in other jurisdictions.
In February, the NSW Government rolled out a real time bus information service, offering real time bus arrival times to commuters when they text their bus stop code to a selected number.
The SMS service utilises the Roads and Traffic Authority’s public transport information and priority system (PTIPS), which is utilises Global positioning systems and radio data communications to aggregate real time information about buses and their location.
Tenders for the SMS and MMS Services Panel close on 21 April 2011.