Multi-Channel Delivery

The objectives of this issue are as follows:

What is Multi-Channel Delivery?

Channels are different means used by service providers to interact with and deliver services to their user community. Multi-channel service delivery is the provision of services through different networks, terminal devices or platforms and interfaces, in an integrated and coordinated way, with comparable levels of user friendliness.

Governments, like other sectors, also interact with citizens through different channels, from the traditional ones such as the counter or face-to-face and postal delivery to the electronic channels such as Internet web-sites, e-mail, SMS-messaging, fixed phone, mobile phone, interactive voice response systems, digital television, fax, self-service terminals (ATMs), etc. Governments also have challenges in relation to the elimination of barriers in the access to their services and in relation to the provision of choices about how to access their information and services.

Mobile devices, digital TV and others are opening new ways of interaction between citizens and governments, so that electronic services are no longer limited to the PC. This is possible thanks to the evolution of terminal devices with better features in terms of processing capacity, memory, power autonomy, screen size and quality, on one side and to the improvement of networks, protocols and mark-up languages on the other side.

Industry and citizens are getting used to these new electronic channels taking advantage of their possibilities and new services and there is an expectation that governments may be able to do the same.

These new electronic channels require the adoption of new architectures and systems able to provide the top of their functionalities.

The Web is a main channel to access government services permanently available and it should be possible to offer the citizens such services through any device incorporating Internet access. This would allow a significant increase in the usage of government services by means of any kind of widespread channels such as PDA,s, smartphones, WAP, WebTV, and others; in this way the access to government services would be really anyhow, anywhere, anytime through mobile devices.

What Public Policy Outcomes are Related to Multi-Channel Delivery?

Multi-channel policies developed by governments generally address the following goals:

What are the Main Benefits of Multi-Channel Delivery?

Main benefits of multi-channel delivery may be for the user community and for the service provider:

How Can Multi-Channel Delivery Be Achieved?

As a starting point governments develop strategies so that the access to their Web sites may be available through mobile devices offering more choice to citizens. More global approaches design strategies which combine face to face offices, call centers and web sites, as in the case of the Multi-channel Citizen Service Centers in Greece [EV-PAPA], with equivalent experiences to this one in other countries like Spain.

The study about “Multi-channel delivery of government services” elaborated by the Program IDA of the European Commission [EC-MCD] elaborates on how to develop a multi-channel strategy; this study includes a list of possible channels with their main features, proposes a channel selection framework and provides implementation guidelines of the multi-channel strategy. This implementation may require a number of steps such like the following:

What are the Main Issues and Limitations with Multi-Channel Delivery?

There is a number of issues to be considered:

Some of them are specially relevant like security providing trust, and simplicity so that the content may have a similar appearance from any device, providing transparency from the point of view of the user.

Many people uses the mobile phone only for phone calls and are not aware of the rest of possibilities of the device, because its operation may result difficult for them. This inhibiting factor decreases the usage of the offered services. For instance, trying to write an URL in a mobile may be a difficult task because certain characters (“@”, “/”, “?”, “&”, “:”, …) are hard to find and the writing task is generally troublesome. The user usually has to remember a crowd of short numbers, key words, URLs, while using impulsively a mobile device with low help capabilities and requiring a quick answer to solve an specific problem.

The ideal scenario is that introduction of new electronic channels would be as non-intrusive as possible; for instance without having to modify content managers used for the production of information for the Web.

This may require the deployment of intermediate elements which adapt or format the content taken out from the web appropriately according to the kind of device involved in the transaction.





European Commission – Program IDA, Multi-channel delivery of government services, June 2004,


European Commission, 'MC-eGov: Study on Multi-channel Delivery Strategies and Sustainable Business Models for Public Services Addressing Socially Disadvantaged Groups',


Evangelos Papanikolaou (Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration & Decentralization) Multi-channel Citizen Service Centers in Greece,


GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications, Intergovernmental Solutions Newsletter, Transparency and Open Government, Transparency in Government,


Ministerial Declaration, approved unanimously in Lisbon, Portugal, on 19 September 2007,


Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Transparency and Open Government, B. Obama,


Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0,


W3C mobileOK Checker ,


Wikipedia, Mobile Web, Limitations,