Tarja Heponiemi

What we have done in the DigiIN project – and what comes next

The DigiIN project is nearing its halfway point.

During the existence of the project, a lot has happened in the area of digitalisation and, especially, in the world at large. COVID-19 changed the world, as all operations became digital and face-to-face meetings and seminars went online. This spring, Russia brutally attacked Ukraine, and war in Europe affects all of us as never before. We are truly living in historic times.

Despite all the turmoil in the world, the DigiIN project has progressed as expected.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we managed to move our operations and data collection to online relatively fast.

Increasing digital services may continue to increase inequality in society

Our research results indicate that the increasing digital services may continue to increase inequality in society. People that are more vulnerable financially, socially and in terms of health are in danger to be left out of services that are important and necessary for them.

For example, poor usability, difficult content, user’s low level of education and problems in reading Finnish pose challenges.

Our results highlight genuinely needs-based services and adequate support and guidance for the use of the continuously developing devices and applications. Digital services must be improved by means of plain language and interactivity and by making it easier to find information.

Digitalisation has also changed the work of social welfare and health care professionals, and, for example, new competence requirements and inadequate time for familiarisation with new systems may become serious problems if we do not pay enough attention to them.

Scientific and popular publishing has been active

Our research results are based on the diverse data that we have collected with various different methods during the project. We have collected survey data and qualitative data by means of, for example, interviews, observing, diaries, documents and usability tests. In connection with the project, we have also conducted an intervention study and utilised existing large national data sets extensively.

The project’s scientific and popular publishing has been active. The results have been reported in numerous peer-reviewed articles, both nationally and internationally. In addition, information has been published in popular articles and presented in numerous workshops and collaborative meetings and widely in different medias.

Based on our research results, we have drawn up policy recommendations that present 9 critical measures to increase the equality of digital services (in Finnish).

The results and recommendations have also been highlighted in several different specialist groups and the steering group of the project.

Work towards equality in society continues

In the future, we intend to deepen and further define our previous results, study possible solutions that would help in the supporting of customers and professionals in digitalisation and increasingly focus on our impact and the spreading of the research knowledge gained during the project.

Working in the DigiIN project has been rewarding. Noticing that the project has been deemed important has especially brought joy.

The discourse shows that digital exclusion worries a lot of people. People are worried about how the aged and the vulnerable manage to handle their affairs when services increasingly move online. Work towards equality in society continues.

I would like to thank all the people participating in the project, stakeholders, cooperative partners, users of our results and the funder of the project, the Strategic Research Council.

I would also like to thank all of you who have shared your opinions with us when we have collected data or spread information about the results of the project.

Let us continue working together.

Tarja Heponiemi
Research Professor, THL
Head of Consortium, Leader of the New work culture theme
tel. +358 29 524 7434