In recent times, the popularity of the Internet has led to e-government practices being widely recognized as an important option for service to the general public. In response, various tiers of government from national to local level have sought opportunities to engage the public through Web sites. Many governments now provide some level of access to government through Web interfaces, for example, through access to resources such as publications and government data. In some cases there are services provided that may be executed online. For example, users may provide personal information for licensing or to undertake payments. There continues to be a diversity of implementation quality and levels for such services. The facilitation of e-government has been characterized in various ways. For example, the European Union has seen it in terms of four main tasks: the development of Internet-based services to improve access to public information and services, the improvement of the transparency of public administration by using the Internet, the full exploitation of information technology within public administration, and the establishment of e-procurement (Strejcek & Theilb, 2003). More recently, the United Nations (UN), noting that ICTs may be used to transform its internal and external relationships, has also identified four similar but distinct areas: internal processes such as record keeping, electronic service delivery, virtual communities for digital democracy, and e-business opportunities such as procurement (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2005).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Executability: This is the extent to which a user may interact with a service function via a Web site. This may range from nonexistent through information display, information download, partial executability (in which a user may submit digital material but not receive responses), and fully executable in which mutual citizen-agency interaction takes place with a validation of the transaction provided.
Readability Measures: These are analytical measures based upon algorithms such as the Fog Scale and the Flesch-Kincaid grade level that estimate the extent to which text is comprehensible.
Encryption: Encryption involves any procedure used for converting plaintext into cipher text (encrypted message) in order to prevent any but the intended recipient from reading the data. It may then be carried, for example, by secure sockets layer (SSL), a protocol that uses a secure hypertext transmission method designed to provide encrypted communications on the Internet.
Cookie: A cookie is a facility that enables a Web server to send a Web browser a packet of data that will be returned by the browser each time it accesses the same server. It may include any data the server is set to determine, and is often used to authenticate a registered user of a Web site without requiring them to sign in again every time they access it.
Navigation: Navigation is the process of following a path in a database to find desired information. It is usually applied to the exploration of a hypertext system, or a database that has graphic representation via a Web site.
Information architecture: It is the arrangement of information in a structured way for Web site interface presentation based upon the technical architecture in databases and static files.