Life events in the design of public services: Creating communities of service in the Finnish national AuroraAI program

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Many governments around the world strive to deliver more effective, efficient, and user-friendly digital public services. In order to take a perspective of everyday life over one of internal processes in the design of these public services, in many cases a Life Event approach is utilized. The Finnish national Aurora artificial intelligence program, who commissioned this research, aims to implement an AI-powered and data-driven model in which service providers serve people in their Life Events. First established in 2018 by the Ministry of Finance, the program is currently implementing Life Event service ecosystems in which service providers build service packages delivered across different organizations that answer people’s needs connected to events in their lives. However, a conclusive definition for the concept of Life Events is missing and how it can be utilized in practice to deliver better services remains unclear. In the context of public services, Life Events have first been introduced in the field of eGovernment as an approach to organize services in online government portals. Later they have been understood as an organizational framework for collaboration between different service providers, and most recently service designers in the public sector have started to utilize them as a lens for user research to understand the context in which people are using services. At the same time, in the field of psychology, Life Event research seeks to quantify the level of stress certain events trigger in people’s lives. Therefore, one objective of this thesis research is to provide an understanding of the concept of Life Events and its potential as an approach for delivering better public services. Further, the requirements beyond technological infrastructure and access to shared data for service providers to develop service packages across multiple organizations and sectors is not well understood; therefore, the second objective is to outline these requirements. To investigate these issues, literature and grey literature including cases and practitioners’ accounts were reviewed; public service experts working with Life Events were interviewed (n=6); and stakeholders within the AuroraAI program were continuously engaged throughout the research. The findings indicate that (1) the wide range of definitions for Life Events stems from the fact that they are utilized with regard to different levels of service experience (Polaine et al, 2013); (2) Life Events are particularly valuable as a lens to take into account the human experience of a service, allowing service providers to understand people’s needs, goals, and motivations; (3) in addition to technological infrastructure, a common vision, bottom-up development, and clear responsibilities enable service providers to develop service packages around Life Events; (4) a design-led approach can enable service providers to develop Life Event-based services by making people’s context understandable, painting the wider service picture, and facilitating collaboration. Applying the findings to the AuroraAI program’s planned approach to implementing Life Event service ecosystems, two gaps are identified. Service providers are found to be disconnected from the needs, goals, and motivations of individual people experiencing a Life Event and to be lacking the infrastructure for collaboration. A set of recommendations aiming to fill these gaps is proposed. Design-led methods for user research, storytelling, journey mapping, and facilitation are outlined, affording (1) a closer connection between service providers and individuals and (2) enabling collaboration of service providers by forming Communities of Service.
Mazé, Ramia
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Solsona Caba, Núria
public sector, service design, life events, service experience, service-dominant logic, electronic government, eGovernment, community of service
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