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Open government for all? Co-creating digital public services for older adults through data walks

Juliane Jarke (Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI), Institute for Information Management Bremen (ifib), University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 10 April 2019

Issue publication date: 9 October 2019




The purpose of this paper is to review interventions/methods for engaging older adults in meaningful digital public service design by enabling them to engage critically and productively with open data and civic tech.


The paper evaluates data walks as a method for engaging non-tech-savvy citizens in co-design work. These were evaluated along a framework considering how such interventions allow for sharing control (e.g. over design decisions), sharing expertise and enabling change.


Within a co-creation project, different types of data walks may be conducted, including ideation walks, data co-creation walks or user test walks. These complement each other with respect to how they facilitate the sharing of control and expertise, and enable change for a variety of older citizens.

Practical implications

Data walks are a method with a low-threshold, potentially enabling a variety of citizens to engage in co-design activities relating to open government and civic tech.

Social implications

Such methods address the digital divide and further social participation of non-tech-savvy citizens. They value the resources and expertise of older adults as co-designers and partners, and counter stereotypical ideas about age and ageing.


This pilot study demonstrates how data walks can be incorporated into larger co-creation projects.



MobileAge has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 693319. This co-creation project would not have been possible without the support of the many older residents and local social care service providers in Bremen Hemelingen. In particular, the author would like to thank the participating older adults, the district councils and the Netzwerk Alte Vielfalt. In addition, the author would like to thank her colleagues Herbert Kubicek and Ulrike Gerhard for being such a fantastic team; Frank Reins and Frank Berker from the MobileAge project for joining her on the walks and this co-creation journey; and Jo Bates for the valuable and constructive feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript.


Jarke, J. (2019), "Open government for all? Co-creating digital public services for older adults through data walks", Online Information Review, Vol. 43 No. 6, pp. 1003-1020.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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