Espoo is testing a mobile information service – some of the fixed service points proposed to be closed
The City of Espoo is testing a mobile information service. The aim is to provide information services and digital support for customers most in need of these services and in areas without fixed service points. At the same time, the city is planning to close three of its six service points: Espoonlahti at the end of March 2022, Espoon keskus at the end of June 2022 and Tapiola at the end of June 2023, according to the current plan. The City Board will decide on the matter on 20 December 2021.
Please note: The Espoo City Board decided to slightly change the proposal to close service points. Bulletin of the City Board decisions on 20 December 2021 (in Finnish)
The plan is to maintain the fixed service points in Matinkylä, Leppävaara and Kalajärvi.
Face-to-face services would also still be available in Espoon keskus, where a small-scale service point would be located somewhere in city or partner premises.
“We propose that service points are maintained along both rail transport lines: one along the metro line in Matinkylä and another along the coastal railway line in Leppävaara. These two service points are the busiest and most easily accessible and they serve residents from a wide area. Maintaining our Kalajärvi service point is supported by its location in an area with limited public transport connections. The costs are also reasonable in city-owned premises with limited staff resources,” says Customer Service Director Kirsi Remes.
Mobile service guarantees access to services in all urban centres
The proposal to close service points and invest in mobile services and digital support is part of the measures of the Economically Sustainable Espoo programme. However, the change would have been imminent even without any cost-saving goals as the digitalisation of services provided by the city and its partners has changed and will continue to change the need for services.
Access to services is maintained in all urban centres, even if the current physical service points are discontinued. As a majority of the service points’ services can be provided online, it has also been important to consider the viewpoint of supporting residents’ use of online services, i.e. providing them with digital support.
Digital support refers to help and support that is available for the use of various mobile devices and electronic and online services.
Espoo’s goal is to better reach the target groups that would benefit from digital support and general-level service counselling. For this purpose, a mobile information service was selected as the operating model, with focus on digital support and general-level guidance and advice on the use of public services. Mobile service advisors work at a specific location for a fixed period of time and focus on providing advice to the people in the area.
“Our mobile service advisors can visit, for example, a senior citizens’ service centre and reach new customer groups that may have difficulty in physically accessing services,” says Customer Service Manager Anna-Maija Aalto.
Need for face-to-face services decreasing
The ease of using online services is appealing to customers, and the demand for services and information service, in particular, has shifted online. Many of the services provided by the service points are already available through self-service channels. This includes online services provided by the city and Kela, topping off HSL travel cards and purchasing tickets for various events.
As not all customers know how to use online self-services, the city will target digital support specifically at these groups in the future.
“Many of our customers have already switched to online services, and we are responding to their requests by developing smoother services. By 2024, we will introduce the MyEspoo self-service channel, which will allow customers to contact us online when it suits them. We expect the number of visitors to decrease from previous years at our service points. The COVID-19 epidemic has further accelerated this change and, at the same time, highlighted the customer groups that need support in learning how to use online services,” says Kirsi Remes.
- City Board