Tablet use rises for government online processes

Written by Colin Marrs on 28 April 2016 in News

The proportion of people using a tablet to complete government processes online has risen sharply over the past year, according to a survey by communications watchdog Ofcom.

Its 2016 report into adults’ media use and attitudes found that 16% said they are most likely to use a tablet for these tasks, compared to 9% last year.

The percentage of those saying they mostly use a laptop – still the most popular device - has dropped from 52% to 45%, with 16% saying they use a smartphone – up from 14% last year. Only one in four mainly use a desktop computer.

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Ofcom’s report explored the profile and behaviour of people who used public services to do the seven following tasks:

  • look for news about or events in your local area;
  • look for public services on government sites such as and HMRC;
  • complete government processes online – such as register for tax credits, renew driving licence, car tax or passport, complete tax return;
  • look for information on public services provided by your local council;
  • sign an online petition;
  • look at political or campaigning websites; and
  • contact a local councillor or your MP online.

The report said: “Four of the seven public or civic activities have been undertaken by a majority of internet users: looking for news about or events in your local area (73%), looking for public services information on government sites such as and HMRC (68%) completing government processes online (66%) and looking for information on public services provided by your local council (62%).”

A third of internet users have never completed any government process online, with reasons varying.

Another third (34%) of the internet users who don’t complete government processes online say that this is because they prefer some kind of verbal contact, either by phone or by talking to someone in person, or because they think the process cannot be done online.

Across the whole of the society, nine in ten adults use a mobile phone, unchanged since 2010. However there has been a four percentage point rise since 2014 in the proportion of people using a smartphone.

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Submitted on 28 April, 2016 - 11:45
Why would anyone be surprised? There are many suggesting that the tablet platform is close to demise, but miss a really important fact. They are here to stay, and as they continue to improve, they will become (in whatever form) more important and accessible. The design of services is now gearing (still a way to go) up for tablet delivery, and as UXs improve further we will see greater use. Examples of great design can now be seen through the extraordinarily successful joint work of Apple and IBM. Their work has created well design, sensibly targeted apps for niche as well as more general uses. When I was working in local government I saw the awful attempts to use early form of (mainly) Windows tablets, indeed what made things worse was that the council actually took Windows ⅞ devices and DOWNGRADED them to fit their systems want. Needless to say money was effectively poured down the drain; next they insisted on netbooks (again, open the sluice gates and pour away public money) just so that they could virtualise their services on a Windows XP like interface. When I introduced my own iPad, in an attempt to show the possibilities it was all but banned. That attitude was really all about defending the status quo. I will never forget the HoD for IT telling me to forget matter what, they would never have a place @BlackpoolCouncil. Never? Yes, things change. That was 5 years ago now. The reality has been very, very different. Today, well conceived and version devices like the iPad offer all types of users the ability to simply and effectively not only consume services from government and local government, but easier ways to reach audiences. The same HoD I intimated earlier went off to set up a software development business. I wonder what his thoughts are now?

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