Survey Finds Governments Need to Address Growing Interests of‘Digital Citizens’
Research shows broad support for digital public services in India
Nearly 50 percent of citizens surveyed in India believe that interacting with their government is easy and the same percentage feel it’s just as easy to interact with the government as it is with private-sector companies, according to a new survey from Accenture.
That response is higher than the results from six other countries participating in a global “pulse survey” conducted with more than 1,400 citizens in Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom. About one-third of respondents in those countries believe it’s easier to interact with the government than with private-sector companies.
These same “digital citizens,” however, want increased access to public services and are more inclined to use digital channels, including online and mobile resources, to conduct routine government business. In fact, more than 70 percent of the survey respondents already use the Internet for submitting and tracking government forms and payments and more than half (53 percent) say they want to use more online channels in the future.
While the overwhelming majority (70 percent) of those surveyed said they were likely to use digital services, such as websites or portals, a fair number (30 percent or more) said they were unlikely or unsure about using a range of digital channels for public services. And, one-third said they are not aware of the ways to interact with the government digitally, which provides an opportunity for governments to better communicate the benefits of digital channels to citizens.
“Digital citizens are empowered in ways that previous generations could only imagine,” said Krishna Giri, who leads Accenture’s Health & Public Service business in India. “They can initiate and dictate the dynamics of citizen-to-government relationships with a tweet, blog post or Facebook message sent to hundreds of people from their smart phone. And high performing governments are working now to reshape the way they deliver public services to meet the new demands of their citizens.”
Giri said that governments around the world face a new reality of citizen expectations and need to shift the ways they deliver public services. This “digital citizen” survey is one in a series of research studies Accenture is developing to analyze key issues and trends that affect delivering “Public Services in the Future.”
Findings in India
Key findings among Indian citizens surveyed:
- Citizens in India are more likely than those from all other countries to use digital services beyond websites and portals. Nearly two-thirds of respondents would use mobile websites and apps and 77 percent would be willing to receive electronic emergency broadcasts or alerts through digital channels.
- A much smaller percentage, 28 percent, would use social media to contact a government official to request a service or resolve a problem.
- Nearly one in five citizens said there were no barriers to preventing digital interactions with the government. Of those who did report barriers, about 30 percent were concerned with the government having access to personal information.
- The majority, 71 percent, said they would support a digital post.
- Almost 70 percent (67 percent) would like the government to be more integrated and have the ability to share information across agencies, making it even easier to conduct government business.
- Citizens in Singapore and India are more likely than those from all other countries surveyed to use digital services. Nearly three-quarters of respondents in both countries said they would be willing to access government websites on mobile devices and apps.
- German citizens (45 percent) are less likely to prefer more government integration, such as a greater sharing of information across agencies, than their counterparts from France(63 percent), the United States(57 percent) or the United Kingdom(58 percent).
- Sixty percent of U.S. citizens and 65 percent of Australians surveyed said they would not use social media to contact a government official, but nearly 70 percent of respondents in Singapore and India would.
- While 63 percent of those surveyed believe digital interactions make the government more easily accessible, when it comes to what matters most – resolving problems – they prefer human contact. A phone call or face-to-face meeting is preferred by almost three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents.
- Allowing government to have access to personal data is a top concern for about one-third of citizens in Australia (31 percent),France(30 percent),Singapore(31 percent), the United Kingdom(30 percent) and the United States(29 percent). Nearly half of those surveyed in Germany(48 percent) identified this as the biggest barrier to digital public services.
The digital citizen online survey included more than 1,400 respondents across seven countries, with 200 respondents each from Australia, France, Germany, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. Forty-one percent of respondents live in urban areas, 33 percent reside in suburban areas and 26 percent live in rural areas or small towns. Sixty-seven percent of those completing the online survey were between 18 years and 45 years of age when the survey was conducted by Market Connections in November 2011.