Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What users really want from online public services

05.05.2006


How do public administrations actually know what end users want and expect of their public services so as to set about satisfying their needs? An exhaustive European-wide survey of citizens’ real needs regarding services such as e-government, e-health and e-learning, goes a long way towards answering this question.



The IST-sponsored eUSER project behind the survey gathered vital data from 10 European countries on a wide range of topics. This included access technologies, use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) equipment and the internet, the attitudes of end users towards technology in general and the internet in particular, and their interaction with providers of services of public interest in the areas of health, education and public administration.

The ultimate aim now is to use all this information as a resource database on user needs in relation to online public services and on user-oriented methods for meeting these needs. The project will use this resource base to actively support the IST programme and projects, EU policy and the wider European research community to better address user needs in the design and delivery of online public services.


While the eUSER project mainly focused on the provision of online public services, its survey findings highlight the need to address wider issues of inequality and access to ICT in Member States, according to project coordinator Karsten Gareis.

“We found, not surprisingly, that online public service users are likely to be from the better-educated, more affluent and younger parts of the population. This is partly explained by unequal access to the internet, but also by unequal uptake of the services in general, for instance lifelong learning, which is much more widespread among younger and better educated citizens,” he said.

On the plus side, however, he notes that eUSER data shows that once members of the disadvantaged population segments actually get online, they are just as likely to make full use of the medium and derive the same kind of positive benefits from them as those from early-adopter-groups. “This suggests that the internet has the potential to act as some sort of equaliser,” he adds.

In terms of obstacles to usage of online public services by European citizens, Gareis identifies three main interrelated hurdles that need to be overcome if uptake is to be improved: Access barriers- internet access and access for people with functional restrictions (eyesight, dexterity), competence barriers -‘e-skills’ and ‘digital literacy’ and also literacy in a general sense, motivation barriers- willingness to use the service in general.

There are many reasons for this, according to Gareis: “In some countries, good service provision via the telephone acts as a barrier to the take-up of online usage and may actually be the preferable option from the users’ viewpoint. Another reason why many people do not want to use online public services is that they would miss the social aspect of traditional services.”

The solution, he believes, is for online services to become more socially embedded to win over these citizens. Improvements are also required in building awareness of online services among the target audience, and convincing them of the usefulness of these services. Issues of access and availability for those most at risk of being excluded, such as the elderly, ethnic minorities and disadvantaged populations, also need to be addressed.

Nevertheless, the eUSER survey also revealed some upbeat statistics in terms of satisfaction levels among service users. For example, over 66 per cent of e-learning users, 55 per cent of e-government users and 71 per cent of e-health users say they are fully satisfied with the online services they did use.

The willingness for repeat usage, which is the best indicator for effective satisfaction, is even higher. For example, five out of every six users of an online e-learning course said that they would do online learning again.

“The main recommendation is that online services need to be viewed in context of the service in general. Citizens don’t care for online services as such – what they want is good government, learning, health services – full stop! This means that online delivery should fit seamlessly within overall service provision rather than being understood as simply an alternative channel for provision,” he says.

Another key point is that service designers need to take a more holistic view of user needs when developing online services.

With the initial survey completed, there is no question of eUSER’s valuable data gathering dust, according to Gareis. Rather, the eUSER knowledge repository will be maintained and perhaps expanded in the future.

“The medium-term objective of the consortium is to establish eUSER as the basis for a European eUSER Observatory, which would conduct surveys regularly in order to holistically measure user orientation of online services and, more generally, services of public interest in general,” he ends.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.europa.eu/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/81713
http://istresults.cordis.lu/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines

24.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

24.04.2017 | Machine Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>