By Ashley Fruechting
America’s online behavior has changed dramatically since 2007 when the first iPhone fueled mass smartphone adoption and made it easy for average citizens to stay connected to the Internet anywhere, anytime. Today, according to the latest Pew Research, nearly two thirds of Americans own a smartphone — and 10 percent do not have any other form of high-speed Internet access at home. Mobile usage marked a new milestone in early May when Google reported that more searches are being made on mobile devices than on personal computers in the United States and nine other countries around the world.
Acknowledging and making the changes necessary to accommodate these trends is the job of every public sector leader. Ready or not, mobile government soon will be a de facto mandate for communicators at all levels of government. Now that Google has overhauled its search-recommendation system to favor websites that are easier to read and load on smartphones, the need is even more urgent. And local government leaders who fail to act may find that their communications systems are obsolete.
A North America-wide online survey of local government IT and communications professionals commissioned by Vision Internet in December 2014 revealed that only about half of respondents have mobile-ready websites. That leaves many municipalities challenged to play catch up with the digital communications habits of their citizens.
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