Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Get a job by text ... Or is that get a date by text

Delighted to see that Job Centres will be sending out text messages alerting people to job matches pretty soon, as reported by Kable (and also by the National Press) today. Last March when I first floated using mobiles for notifications/alerts and whatnot, there was a flurry of coverage around the idea (my primary points then were blood donors and exam results by text, not necessarily at the same time). When I was doing presentations on mobile government late last year and earlier this year ... this was one of the slides that I put up. I'm really pleased to see someone getting to the same place independently (after all, I can only imagine that this has been worked on for a while).# But I wonder whether anyone is looking at the what next of that? By what next I mean, literally, "ok, so you've got a job, what next?". Maybe that affects your employment benefits, maybe it affects tax credits or some other allowances. It might even put you into a whole new world of tax, like Self Assessment or who knows what. The follow up for those services should also be electronic - via a kiosk or a PC - so that everything gets setup right away, reducing the risk of delay, making sure payments are adjusted (up or down) and taking the pain away. It can all be confirmed by text of course. Progress on wider government text services is slower than I would like. A few folks are putting their toes in the water - including the people we are working with at a hospital in Norwich where they're trying to reduce "did not attends". There is huge scope here, but also risk - government spam, trusted numbers and so on. Needs more work, but looks like it's breaking new ground and that's always worth some points. One of the other issues that this begs is at what point do you pay for a government service. If you get a text that says "here's a job for you" (and then describes the job in 168 characters or less, books the interview and tells you the time of the appointment), you must, at some point, reply and say "ok ... I want that job" or "that time's ok" or "no, i want a different time" or similar. And you do, in most cases, have to pay for that - only a small amount still (I don't think we're going for premium numbers yet, but government may do that one day for certain services). Is the trade fair enough? I think it is. I'll be very interested in seeing how it pans out.

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