Government WebRTC: Is it possible?

Web-based communications might play a big role in public services someday soon.

The beauty of web real-time communications (WebRTC) is that it allows users to communicate directly within a web browser. While the actual concept isn't altogether new (it dates back five years), the way it's now being used is pretty novel.

For example, a consumer can instantly chat a customer service representative on an e-commerce website as he or she shops. This use case for WebRTC has become fairly common, and for those who prefer to avoid a maze of interactive-voice-response systems, it's a convenient one. If necessary, calls can also be made.

Getting government agencies on board 

Much like in the private sector, it's in the best interest of government agencies to improve their inbound and outbound communication with residents and citizens. In addition to enhancing public services, this may help shorten the daunting wait times associated with phoning Uncle Sam. During the the 2015 tax season, for instance, the average call wait time for the Internal Revenue System was 21 minutes. The good news is that in 2016, this was brought down to a mere nine minutes, according to the Washington Post.

Still, what if tax payers had the option to get in touch with federal, state or local agencies with simple inquiries via internet chat to further cut down on wait times? The technology exists, as unified communications solutions make it possible for contact center agents to field questions from a single virtual dashboard with WebRTC capabilities. 

WebRTC may be able to expedite communication with government agencies.WebRTC may be able to improve communication with government agencies.

It's most likely just a matter of time

"We have the technology, and it's secure."

The one foreseeable drawback to government agencies chatting directly within a web browser is security. That said, according to GitHub, this is a non-issue

That's because WebRTC used Datagram transport layer security (DTLS) for end-to-end encryption of instant messages, and secure real-time protocol (SRTP) to protect voice and video IP communications. For reference, SRTP is the same protocol used to guard data packets over a secure VoIP connection.

Thus, there's a strong chance that government WebRTC will soon be offered as a communication channel to the American public – especially as a tool for more general inquiries. We have the technology, and it's secure; now it's just a matter of deciding when to use it.