2 billion and counting
One of my motivations in setting up this blog was to promote debate around the modernisation of public services.
The most common form of modernisation over recent years has been digitisation – police officers and prison officers now wear body cameras, not only to safeguard themselves and the people they are dealing with, but to provide instant evidence which does not require hours of manual recording.
The government’s plans to improve the efficiency of the courts are based mainly on digitisation of the whole process.
So, it was with great interest that I read a recent press release from the government’s’s digital service celebrating the fact that the various pages at gov.uk had passed over 2 billion visits in the little over three years since its launch in October 2012.
GOV.UK is now part of the UK’s national infrastructure, helping millions of people find the government services and information they need every day. Services like renewing vehicle tax or claiming Carer’s Allowance, and information like calculating how much maternity leave and pay you’re entitled to, or the rules for running a limited company.
The most popular page on GOV.UK is Find a job with Universal Jobmatch, with 56.3 million page views between October 2014 and October 2015.
Here’s their infographic summarising how people use the service:
Desktop vs mobile
The short history of the government digital service reveals the unstoppable march of mobile devices. In 2012, just 21% of visits were from mobiles and tablets. By 2015, that figure had gone up to 40%. On weekends, it goes above 50%.
Interestingly, the service with the highest percentage of mobile device visits is Book a prison visit, at 62.9%.
Here’s another infographic:
The convenience of digital government is unarguable, 24% of the sites’ visits take place between 7 pm and 7 am.
Digital is almost always cheaper and faster, but is it always better?
Both parts of the modern probation service (the public sector National Probation Service and private sector Community Rehabilitation Companies) now rarely visit offenders in prison, preferring to interact by video link.
Is it possible to form an effective (trusting) working relationship with someone you’ve never met in the flesh?