Home > eGov > Is Web 2.0 Always the Way to Go?

Is Web 2.0 Always the Way to Go?

Just because government is further behind the private sector when it comes to jumping on the Web 2.0 train doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of chatter about getting on board. I’ve heard things like

“We need an app where citizens can take pictures of potholes or graffiti with their camera phone, geotag the location, and have it entered into a maintenance request in real time which then generates a tweet with the work order.”


“We need an iPhone app that can play a song of their choice and as it gets closer to their registration renewal date, the song will play faster and faster until they renew their license.”


“We want a platform-agnostic, web-based application that can pull public datasets from every agency overlayed on top of a Google maps mashup with an augmented reality iPhone and Android app integrated into a custom Gowalla trip with flickr integration and vote up/vote down capabilities.”

Ok… I’m exaggerating. But my point is, sometimes we get so enamored by the shiny new jewel that we forget about less attractive options that might be just as useful, if not better than the shiny jewels.

More specifically, I’m talking about text messaging, the premier choice of communication for an overwhelming demographic in this day and age. The statistics are so astounding, there’s no need to list them. Just ask a teenager. People like love being able to communicate in quick, asynchronous digital bits, and this is definitely a channel that works well with government communication needs.

an old flip phone

SMS is so simple, even this old flip phone can do it!

Yesterday, I came across an article in the New York Times blog about a service for pregnant women and young mothers that sends text messages with health tips, information, and resources based on their location. What a great idea!


  • simple,
  • effective,
  • inexpensive,
  • don’t require smartphones,
  • unobstrusive, and
  • completely integrated with normal communication channels.

With all the convenience and benefits of text messaging, why aren’t more government programs getting on board? I’m not saying that nobody uses SMS, but I hear so much more about Twitter, Facebook and other more 2.0 types of tools.

What do you think? Even though it’s not as “shiny” as some other applications, should government use text messaging more often? What are some other examples of highly effective programs taking advantage of this tool?

Categories: eGov Tags: , , ,
  1. Kim
    February 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I actually sort of like the first idea, minus the tweet part… But I know where you’re coming from. Good thoughts. 🙂

    • Jon Lee
      February 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks Kim! Yea, we hear the first idea a lot. The 3 examples were supposed to be a crescendo of craziness

  2. the_matt
    February 15, 2011 at 11:27 am

    My fiance worked (until recently) for an org called DataDyne – one of a few orgs doing similar work – using SMS for public health purposes in developing countries; very cool stuff (disease incidence tracking via a SurveyMonkey-type tool, logistical help with immunization campaigns, continuing education for rural nurses, etc.), honestly, and I can imagine there are a lot of applications for it here in the States as well, particularly in the public service arena. Nice point you make here, in any case.

    Also, although I declined to comment on it when I saw it – nice powerpoint you put up the other day. Though I still wish you had more opportunity to use the animated Yoda from a presentation you gave in Apfel’s class…

    • Jon Lee
      February 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks Matt! Yes, there are some advanced intricate ways of tying in data and processes to SMS. Maybe someday I can hear some more about how your fiancee used to integrate this technology into their business processes.

      And unfortunately, I don’t do yoda light saber fights in PowerPoints anymore. But if I did, it would be much better than what you saw in 2005. I’ve been more advanced in the force since then.

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