Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Real e-services for real people

18.12.2007
Accessibility studies of e-services often focus on narrow aspects of website design. The eUSER survey discovered many other factors influencing the uptake of e-services, from technical to social and attitudinal. The results are a valuable resource for the designers of e-services, showing them what users – and non-users – really want.

Effective on-line services need websites that are easy for users to navigate, and can cater for visitors with disabilities. Widespread internet access is clearly important, too. But that is not the end of the story, says Karsten Gareis, coordinator of the eUSER project.

Many public on-line services attract only a minority of technophiles, he says: “The extreme example is shiny white public computer kiosks. There’s nothing wrong with the technology, but as for their engagement with the people most in need of support, they might as well be from outer space.”

The assumption has been that people value doing things on-line as an end in itself, Gareis says. That may be true for administrative tasks like applying for a new identity card. But for e-services, such as health and lifelong learning, there is an important social context.

Targeting specific groups
At the heart of eUSER was a survey of ten European countries to find out more about why people use – and, more importantly, do not use – on-line services. The eUSER website includes a searchable database of all the survey results, a set of recommendations, and pilot assessments of selected e-services.

Not surprisingly, the survey found big differences in the takeup of e-services across Europe, reflecting national differences in service availability, internet access and culture. But it is also clear that Europeans do not fit easily into large groups as far as attitudes to e-services are concerned.

“Many older people are very comfortable with ICT, for instance, while others are afraid of computers,” says Gareis. “So, policies on on-line services need to focus on identifiable sub-groups.”

Only half of the users of e-government services reported a positive experience, while many other people do not use e-services at all because they can see no advantage, or fear that they will not understand how to use the services. Once friends or family members have shown them that e-services can be useful, though, even people with little computer experience were often enthusiastic.

The survey also showed clear differences between different types of service. E-health information services are widely used, for instance, while more sophisticated services, such as e-learning courses, are less popular. According to Gareis, this is because many people value the social aspects of face-to-face education, and e-learning is unlikely to attract people who would not join the conventional education system.

Affecting policy
Right from the start, public response to eUSER was enthusiastic. “It was much more positive than is usual with this kind of research project. People clearly thought this was important,” Gareis says.

The European Commission, too, showed strong interest in the results. “It’s not easy to quantify the effects,” Gareis says, “but there are clear signs that ‘user orientation’ – which goes far beyond the traditional focus on website usability – has attracted much more interest in the last year or so.”

“User orientation is at the core of the i2010 initiative and its emphasis on e-inclusion,” he adds. “[Our project] has given policy-makers much-needed evidence that there is still a lot to do when it comes to bringing the information society to all.”

The research has had a useful influence on the indicators used by organisations, such as Eurostat, to measure progress towards the information society.

An observatory to monitor user orientation continuously was not part of the project’s original assignment, but the eUSER consortium is now trying to set one up. “Each new technology will bring fresh questions,” says Gareis. “This issue is not going to go away.”

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/89057

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Equipping form with function
23.06.2017 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity
23.06.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>