Governments and public services rely on open data to communicate with citizens, to provide specific services, and to shape policies at various levels. However, they lack tools on how to involve citizens, especially the digital literate, in the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of these initiatives in order to effectively address citizens’ needs and expectations. The Horizon2020-funded Mobile-Age project recently organized a discussion on “The future of Europe is co-created: digital public services for age-friendly cities and communities.” Hosted at the European Parliament by the Intergroup on Active Ageing, Intergenerational Solidarity and Family issues, and the URBAN Intergroup, this event offered tools and insights paving the way to European strategies putting citizens’ needs on the agenda of European policies.
Co-creation helps smart cities and villages understand the diversity of needs of their older residents. In this context, the key role of local and regional authorities was highlighted by Kieran McCarthy – Committee of the Regions and the Cork City Council: “Localities are at the heart of changes, they are becoming ‘glocalities’ (acting locally, connected globally), and need to adapt constantly. Horizon2020 projects offer practical solutions to cope with changes, and with that respect the Mobile-Age project is a great example which deserves a follow-up.”
Indeed, the Mobile-Age project has the potential to move forward, and its tools are suitable to help policy-makers and researchers shaping the society we want to live in. Niall Hayes – Project Coordinator of Mobile-Age, emphasized the take-away messages from the project: “In the first place, the accent must be on what meaningful services are, and in the case of Mobile-Age we investigated what is meaningful to older adults; secondly, we developed services with older adults, not only for them, but actually with them; and thirdly, we studied ourselves along the pathway, though rounds of assessments, in order to improve our actions and our outcomes at each iteration.”
Among the added values of the project, MEP Lambert Van Nistelrooj welcomed the Mobile-Age approach based on co-creation: “Considering the social dimension is key, we may be technology-driven, but we need to step back and use a more participatory approach.” As Chair of the Intergroup on Active Ageing, Mr. Van Nisterlrooj underlined that “this is something we – at both the URBAN Intergroup and the Intergroup on Active Ageing, Intergenerational Solidarity and Families issues – value a lot.”
Closing the event, MEP Jan Olbrycht underlined that “as politicians, we must think about what can we do for the people, how we can improve their lives by reinforcing trust and using trustworthy technology.” As Chair of the URBAN Intergroup, he expressed his satisfaction on the event: “I am very happy of our deep and optimistic debate with AGE Platform Europe and Mobile-Age at the European Parliament. We did not speak about technology, but mainly about people! Firstly, we need to identify people’s needs by working with them. We then need to identify issues and concerns that affect people most, in order to meet their expectations. Only then, accessibility to different services in cities should be improved. This is the positive approach presented by the MobileAge project!”
The full report of the meeting and links to presentations is available here.