Engaging users in improvement of e-services
Thematic field: GOVE – Government and public sector
Wide selection of e-services is available to the citizens of Maribor by public-service providers (utilities, public transport, …), but their big number and dispersion in cyber space provides a challenge for potential users. This results in low usage of e-services among citizens.
The project team of the Municipality of Maribor and eZavod organized a stakeholder group of all relevant e-service providers to improve e-services and provide better navigation system focused on the end-user – citizen. The objective was to substantially increase the usage of e-services. The innovation process with service providers and citizens was managed as a Living Lab, including Demola method when engaging students. Students and elderly were defined as special target groups beside general population and were invited to join the co-creation process with a view to improve e-services. E-services were tested through the field actions implemented by focus groups of key target groups guided by mentors. They were followed by workshops where improvements of existing e-services were defined and new solutions identified.
In the participative innovation process a proof of concept was developed which could represent a common platform of public e-services - the single entry point.
THE ROLE OF END-USERS IN PILOT DEVELOPMENT
End-users in Maribor pilot contributed to the pilot final version in different ways: by testing the apps and other e-services and prepare comprehensive user feed-back, to provide user-experience in simplified way, to give practical recommendations on how to improve the e-services and to participate in co-creation process of common platform development.
Their impact was very important since the concept of common platform was prepared in line with their suggestions and expectations.
For the pilot purpose it was very important to stress the importance of engagement of end-users in development process of services and to present and test different participatory methods which enable ordinary people/end-users to play an active and influential part in decisions which affect their lives.
MAIN STAKEHOLDERS INVOLVED
Four groups of stakeholders/end-users were actively involved in pilot project implementation process:
- Public companies providing public services in the urban region of Maribor (water supply, district heating, public transport, waste management)
- NGOs representing citizens interests or promoting citizen participation
- Citizens of Maribor
- R&D organizations and/or private business (providers of technical solutions, moderators)
The value of Maribor pilot is development of idea to establish single entry point, a common platform of e-services offered to citizens by municipality and public companies in Maribor. The value also lies in the process where we gained information how to improve or create new service from the side of users, citizens.
Municipality and public companies in Maribor benefited from the project by gaining new knowledge on importance of involvement of end-users in the development of services. They also benefited in gaining knowledge about using participatory methods and tools.
The citizens benefited in gaining knowledge about existing e-services already being offered and in being recognized as a valuable partner in future development of e-services.
The Maribor pilot has a potential to be developed further by realizing the prepared proof of concept (common platform) and by establishment of so called “user club” – a permanent group of citizens being involved in development of new services and upgrade of existing ones.
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION
Bringing together public companies (stakeholders) from different fields had a multiplying and synergy effect on pilot (joint promotion, healthy competition in improvements, etc.). It was found out that all public companies are willing to establish permanent cooperation with end-users through establishment of so called “user club”.
It was very important to communicate well goals of pilot actions to achieve real expectations and satisfied stakeholders. Through implementation of pilot activities and participative process, we established trust and networking between different user groups. It was important to find allies (students, already active elderly people) who were having positive attitude towards main pilot topic (in our pilot - e-services).
Executive management support (e.g. representative of Mayor‘s cabinet, management of public companies) was essential to successfully implement pilot activities.
Header photo by Marko Petrej