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Directgov publishes online wish list

Child truancy alerts and virtual uni tours demanded

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Child truancy alerts and virtual tour of colleges or universities for teenagers are among the most wanted online services, according to a survey commissioned by Directgov.

The Central Office of Information said the study, which questioned more than 2,000 adults and a representative sample of 14 to 18-year-olds, will be used to help the assess the next stage of development for the central portal for government.

Published yesterday, the survey also found that a guide to local services was top of the wish list for the over 50s, while motorists most wanted the ability to renew car tax online.

Both services are already available on Directgov – with the latter having migrated from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's website – suggesting that work is still needed to communicate the availability of such services to the public. The top desire for disabled people was personalised journey planners mapped by accessibility.

Staying connected with family and friends was a key theme revealed across all sample groups. In addition to receiving immediate online alerts if their child has failed to turn up for registration, parents wanted to be able to track children's movements outside of school for safety.

Meanwhile, one in six over 50s most want to stay in better touch with friends and family via webcams and video conferencing.

Teenagers, who often rely on social networking sites and instant messaging to keep in touch with friends, also see the internet as a tool for self-improvement. Almost a fifth of those surveyed wanted the chance to take virtual tours of colleges and universities, while the same proportion wanted to take virtual driving lessons.

For motorists, responsible driving was the top priority. One in ten wanted to put their car through a virtual MOT, while one in seven wanted to be able to calculate the exact carbon emissions of their vehicle.

For disabled people, the most desired future services are those which allow them more time and freedom, with one in seven 35 to 44-year-olds wanting to have face-to-face meetings, such as job interviews or benefit claims renewals, online.

The results of the survey, conducted by ICM Research, are currently being analysed before Directgov decides on how they might be implemented into its website strategy.

Commenting on the findings, the organisation's chief executive officer Jayne Nickalls said: "With 60 per cent of respondents saying they want more government services in one place online, all of the insights we gained will be taken into consideration as we plan the future of Directgov."

Under the online streamlining programme, at least 551 government websites are being culled, with relevant information transferred to "supersites" like Directgov.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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