Taking into account nearly 250,000 respondents, this is the largest sample I've seen for an egovernment usage survey within Australia.
- Victorian users over-represented
The survey was heavily weighed towards Victorian users, with roughly 80% of respondents living in the state - this may bias the survey, as Victorians may not have the same views towards egovernment as elsewhere in Australia. I'd love to see a breakout of the remaining 20% (around 50,000 respondents) to determine if there were differences by state.
- Females slightly over-represented
Women made up 60% of respondents - comparing this to other data I've seen from Hitwise, this makes them slightly over-represented. Hitwise generally reports that usage is, from memory, 53% women and 47% male.
- The internet is mainstream
The demographics largely represent the age spread of Australia's population - if you exclude those under 18, who are generally less likely to visit government sites as they do not transact with government in the same way.
I have been noticing for years (in studies conducted by various organisations) that, except for a slight under-representation of older people, internet demographics and Australian population statistics align quite closely.
- Citizens want to have input into state government policies and initiatives
64% of respondents were interested in having input in the decision-making processes of state government. The report did not specify if this indicated online participation, however I would consider that respondents to online surveys would have at top-of-mind using the same medium for their input.
- Citizens want governments to respond by email
60% of respondents indicated that they wanted government to respond to their enquiries via email.
This is particularly interesting to me as my agency prefers to channel responses to the phone channel, which is both higher-cost and requires that the caller catch the customer at an appropriate time. We also do not guarantee a fast response time for emails - maintaining the same response time (28 days) as with letters, and much slower than phone.
- A large minority were interested in engaging online via live chat
29% of respondents wished to be able to live chat with the government online. This percentage is higher than I have seen previously and is continuing to grow as this approach rolls out in the private sector.
Telstra, eBay and similar sites offer this as one of their primary customer engagement tools and the awareness for this is building. My understanding, from past dealings with Telstra's customer service area, is that on average a customer service representative can deal with four times as many online chats as telephone conversations at the same time - making this an efficient means of engagement.
Over 90% of enquiries can be handled within the chat, with any overly complex engagements transferred to telephone for resolution.
- Large minorities of citizens are reading blogs, listening to podcasts and posting to online communities and forums
Roughly a third of citizens were involved in these online mediums, 34% reading blogs, 30% participation in one or more communities/forums, and 29% listening to podcasts.
14% indicated that they wrote blogs - this might sound small, but when you consider the percentage of Australians writing for newspapers (under 1%), the blog authoring community represents an extremely high level of active participation in the active creation and dissemination of content. Another point to consider is that (the printed version of) a newspaper is geographically restricted and articles disappear quickly. Blogs are available to all internet users, persistent (articles remain online for the life of the blog) and findable via universal search tools.
A single blog article has significantly more impact than a single newspaper article, even, potentially, in the case of major dailies.
These are mediums that government should not ignore.
- More than half of respondents watch online video
56% of respondents indicated that they watched online video, making this an important vector for government communications.