One of the interesting aspects of the recent general election was the way that IT - and in particular, the way society uses IT - was part of all the parties' plans. For the first ever, technology was at the forefront of debate, with the Conservative Party, especially, making much of technology as the a springboard for the future.

The new coalition government was quick to make its mark too. Within weeks, cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt was making a speech about the the future of broadband, establishing his credentials. While I had some reservations, the party was making some serious points, after some of the muddle of Labour.

But I wonder how deep-seated these commitments: two stories had - both very different - had me scratching my head. The first concerned the government's developing of iPhone apps and the furore about the waste of money in developing these apps. The second was the attempt by a group of conservationists in Brighton to prevent the rollout of high-speed broadband.

If we take the first, the government has made its feelings clear on this. The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones said the government had confirmed to him that iPhone apps were facing the axe. "The Government recently announced a freeze on all marketing and advertising spend for this year and this includes iPhone applications", the Cabinet Office confirmed.

What's going on here? On one hand, the government is talking about a glowing future based around high-speed broadband and a way to use technology to access public information more easily, on the other, it's closing down technological initiatives with all the idealistic zeal of Wolsey dissolving the monasteries. The use of mobile apps is an efficient and cost-effective way to reach out to many members of the UK population. No-one is suggesting that the government throws money willy-nilly at apps developers but to have a blanket ban on them, suggests that the government doesn't want to do any of the hard work in assessing which apps are useful or not. It's also a short-sighted approach because mobile apps are going to be the future, whether the government likes it or not.

That's not to say that the government shouldn't take the axe to badly-designed sites,  there are plenty of examples of sites that swallow money and, quite rightly, their days are numbered. Two weeks ago the National Audit Office fired a few shots across the bows of government websites when it revealed the cost of many of them, prompting the government to announce the imminent demise of the worst-performing sites.

All well and good. This is not the early stages of the Internet and government departments - or indeed anyone - should not be paying £35 million to run a website as is costing. Mobile apps are different: we're not talking about millions here - the Jobs search app cost £32,775 for Android and iPhone (which is a closed operating system, but never mind) - an app that has been downloaded 50,000 times in just 10 weeks. To my mind, that sounds like fantastic value for money. Of course, it could just throw open the data for other developers to work with - as TfL did - but I imagine that there could be some security issues around some of the government applications and there's also the fact that 3rd party developers will want to recoup their costs. For example, there's an Android app to get train timetable information from the government-run National Rail, but why should I pay £5 for details that should really be free?

The most galling aspect of the government's use of iPhone apps is that curious behaviour of The Taxpayers' Alliance,. the self-appointed busybody organisation, who quickly popped up to decry the waste of government money when it comes to spending it on iPhone app. Mark Wallace, campaign director for the Tax Payers' Alliance said "It seems many Government bodies have given in to the temptation to spend money on fashionable gimmicks at a time when they are meant to be cutting back on self-indulgent wastes of money."

However, as the TPA had previously praised the Dutch city of Eindhoven for, er, developing iPhone apps to help its citizens, the organisation does seem to be a little confused as to what it stands for. As does the government, that one minutes wants to start a new IT revolution and the next minute wants to cut back spending on these new-fangled things like mobile apps.

No such worries for the good citizens of Brighton protesting about street cabinets to house fibre-based broadband. The organisations complaining about the cabinets have a long record in poking their noses into projects that might bring some wealth and efficiencies to the city. One minute, it's a new football stadium, the next, a new swimming pool, so broadband is grist to the mill. And there's a long record of protest on cellular radio masts.

I'm particularly bitter about actions like these because a) I live in Brighton and b) I can't get broadband from BT as it's not available in my street. And I'm sure it's a problem that's going to be seen in many other towns and cities.<

And like the issue with the iPhone apps, it's a government that wants to have things both ways: it wants to create a high-speed broadband network but, on the other hand, wants to make it easier for individuals to object to planning decisions - something that the previous Labour government was trying to prevent.

I still think the government's instincts on IT are generally good but it should try to stop this confusion as soon as possible, keeping costs down is admirable but so is future economic development. Broadband and mobile apps are both technologies that will help future growth in the UK and should be encouraged as much as possible.

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