A quarter of the British public would like to use a smart card to conduct their dealings with government, new research has revealed.
A survey commissioned by Bull and carried out by London-based researcher Kable, asked 1,001 UK adults how they would like to use technology when communicating with government, in various scenarios from buying TV licences to getting information on how local councils spend their council tax revenues.
The results suggest that while the public generally prefer traditional methods when dealing with government departments, a significant minority are keen on modern means such as the Internet and Email.
Smart cards were also a popular option, particularly among the young.
Almost 80% of respondents felt smart cards would be very useful for carrying information on health records, compared to only 5% who thought they would not.
"We were surprised at how readily people accepted the idea of smart cards for carrying very personal data," said Paul Smith, research manager at Kable. "Nothing is happening with smart cards in the UK, and it's now up to suppliers and the Government to cut through the mire of legal and technical problems to actually do something to use the cards."
The sample was also asked what kind of method they would like to use to identify themselves to government. The most popular approach was by smart card, at 29%, followed by a passport-like document. Only 1% of respondents wanted to use an ID card.
Asked what would be the primary factor in stopping them using new technology to contact government, nearly a third cited the lack of human contact.
Another quarter said a lack of access to a computer was their main reason, while nearly a fifth said distrust of technology was an inhibiting factor.
Ignorance of computer technology is not an issue, it transpires, with only 4% of respondents citing that as a reason for not using new technology.
When asked how they would prefer to contact government to notify the authorities of a change in address, over a third said by phone. A further quarter wanted to use the post, while only 5% chose Email.
The survey found that Email was most popular among younger people. Of those who wanted to use it, almost half were aged under 35 with a further third aged between 35 and 44.
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