The NIMO project "Nordic Interaction and Mobility Research Platform" runs until 2014 and has a project budget of 700 000 Euros.
Picture: The NIMO project was inaugurated in November 2011 by LTU's Pro vice-chancellor Professor Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn and City Council chairman Ann-Christin Westerlund. Photo from left: Dan Johansson LTU, Ann-Christin Westerlund, Skellefteå municipality, Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, LTU, and Karl Andersson LTU.
The text below is based on an interview with Karl Andersson and Dan Johansson at Luleå University of Technology
How would you define the role and nature of e-services?
e-services are ICT-enabled services allowing citizens to interact with municipalities and governmental agencies, access self-services, and submit requests and applications in a secure way.
What are the main objectives of the ‘Nordic Interaction and Mobility Research Platform’ (NIMO)?
The main objective is to develop new ways of interaction and mobility in the field of e-services. We are specifically targeting a new generation of e-services enabling location-based services and multi-channel support (meaning that a variety of devices are supported).
To what extent are NIMO’s activities restricted by the comparatively low take-up of information technologies among
older people? How might this be addressed?
ICT-based services should ultimately be easy to use and accessible to large groups of citizens regardless of their age, background, or technological competence. One important aspect is the use of ICT-related tools in elderly care. The NIMO group in Rovaniemi, Finland is actually addressing the use of social media for elderly people in their research.
Would you agree that an effective cooperation between universities, ICT firms and the public sector is important in securing wellfunctioning regional development in northern Sweden and northern Finland?
Absolutely! Both north Sweden and north Finland are fairly advanced in terms of ICT research and ICT-related businesses. Also, the public sector is very actively addressing the challenge of an ageing population requiring more elderly care services. By working together through NIMO, we can build on each other’s strengths.
Can you offer an insight into the range of partners involved in the project? What competencies and expertise do they bring to the table?
The University of Lapland, Finland has a strong Faculty of Art and Design, while the University of Oulu is contributing with their cutting-edge knowledge within media and 3D Internet. The companies and municipalities involved are all very active in the field of e-services. Together we are forming a platform and developing interesting results in the area of e-services.
How receptive have governments been to e-democracy? What steps have been taken in embracing technologies as a means of offering services to citizens?
E-democracy may not have been so focused until now, but Skellefteå municipality is actually emphasising this quite actively nowadays. The idea of using new technologies like smartphones and tablets in combination with easy-to-use web services for enhanced e-democracy – or rather, enhanced e-participation – is well-acknowledged today. The NIMO project is also working on tools that allow citizens to submit suggestions and comments on new projects in the area of physical infrastructure – such as new parks, bicycle paths, arenas, swimming pools, etc.
In what ways is the project benefiting from cross-border collaboration?
Working in a local or national setting may be effective for certain projects and certain tasks. But the idea of working jointly with Swedish and Finnish partners stems from the fact that problems are basically the same in all regions under investigation, regardless of which side of the border they lie. Also, the companies involved in NIMO can easily extend their markets if they can benefit from opportunities in northern regions of both Sweden and Finland.
Can you shed light on the key topics and outcomes of the recent NIMO seminars and workshops? Are there any more events in the pipeline?
A nice overview of a number of ongoing initiatives in the area of e-services has been provided. Two companies presented their view on e-services of the future, while the municipality team provided an overview of ongoing research in the field. Also, a few citizens participated and gave their feedback on various ways of accessing the e-services.
To sum up, what do you hope will be the overall impact of NIMO?
We hope to contribute to securing future welfare using e-services by enabling more efficient ways of delivering public service. In this way, citizens will ultimately experience enhanced services at a lower cost.