Internet Access Enhances Government Transparency, but Underserved Populations Remain

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In the past 12 months, roughly one in three Americans has used the Internet or a smartphone app to access government information. The Pew Research Center says this access extends to all levels of government: federal, state, and local. As residents have secured improved broadband connections, and as government websites and apps have added features and improved usability, the numbers of people communicating with government online have risen accordingly.

A Pew Research survey says people are usually trying to accomplish one of six tasks:

  • Learn about government recreational activities
  • Renew their driver’s license or auto registration
  • Research government benefits
  • Pay a fine
  • Apply for or renew a government-issued hunting or fishing license
  • Report a problem that needs repair, such as potholes

As these popular tasks show, government websites and apps are much more than one-way sources of information; they provide the opportunity (usually free of charge) to complete tasks that used to require a trip. But as websites improve in functionality, public communicators should remember that there are some populations who may need additional consideration. Continue Reading