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 Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>