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Most of us in Britain are only very slowly coming to terms with the idea of e-government, communicating with government departments using our PCs and the Internet. But many countries — apart from the UK they include Sweden, the Netherlands, Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, China and the Philippines — are working towards talking to their citizens via the almost universal mobile phone. The technique has been dubbed m-government. Examples include security alerts sent out by London’s Metropolitan police; people in Malta can opt to get reminders to renew licences; Singaporeans can learn the results of medical examinations; the Hong Kong government uses the system for emergency announcements; in Norway and Sweden, people can confirm via an SMS text message if their tax returns are accurate; and in Finland they can buy bus tickets. At the moment, most of the initiatives are fairly small-scale and to varying extents experimental, but experts in the field suggest that the rate of innovation means that the system will soon be in routine use almost everywhere.

After e-government, m-government. The idea of the state permanently streaming data to and from your mobile phone may be some people’s nightmare. In Sweden, it’s already reality.

The Guardian, 10 Jun. 2004

Despite its infancy, mobile government (m-government) is a growing and important set of complex strategies and tools that will change completely the roles and functioning of traditional governance.

Europemedia, 15 Jan. 2003

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 26 Jun. 2004

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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Last modified: 26 June 2004.