We design digital services with deliberate consideration for people with disabilities or other challenges, so that they are not excluded.
Head of design and of d|lab, Tietoevry Banking
One of our guiding principles at Tietoevry is inclusion. This not only means creating a workplace where everybody is welcome. It’s also about finding ways to bring the benefits of technology to people with cognitive or physical disabilities.
Much of this work is led by Tietoevry’s Design and Innovation Lab, a 16-person team of business developers, UI/UX designers and tech specialists across the Nordics. The team functions as an internal consultancy, helping Tietoevry’s product owners create customer experiences that work for everyone.
“One of the main themes guiding our work is digital inclusion,” says the Lab’s Head of Design Fredrika Ling. “We design digital services with deliberate consideration for people with disabilities or other challenges, so that they are not excluded. The work usually starts with a problem that you need to solve. This is how TIDA was created.”
In early 2020, the team was approached by colleagues from Tietoevry Welfare – now part of Tietoevery Care – about a challenge faced by the municipality of Skellefteå in northern Sweden.
Skellefteå runs 29 local activity centres that employ people with various levels of disability. Some of the employees work in the centres themselves, while others have jobs in local stores and companies.
The challenge lay in accurately tracking the employees’ working hours so they could be paid properly each month. The municipality’s financial administrator would often receive incomplete timekeeping reports, which meant work needed to be done on tracking down the correct hours. It was a time-consuming task with a high risk of error.
“The municipality had initially wanted to create a smartphone app to solve this problem, but we encouraged them to start thinking from the perspective of the user group,” says Ling.
“Some of the municipality’s clients have a high cognitive ability yet face certain physical challenges that prevent them from working in regular jobs. Others have low cognitive abilities, or severe physical disabilities and limited motion. So we needed to think smart and approach the challenge from the widest possible perspective,” she says.
A project group was created to bring Tietoevry’s Design and Innovation Lab together with the company’s welfare unit and several representatives from Skellefteå Municipality.
The work kicked off with a research-based discovery phase, where Ling’s team visited Skellefteå’s activity centres and the other locations. They wanted to see how the clients arrive and depart each day, the different challenges they face, and how they communicate.
“We discussed many different ideas, brainstorming everything from smart watches to facial-recognition software. In the end we proposed an IoT-based solution that combines both physical and digital elements. This is TIDA,” says Ling.
The name TIDA is a play on the Swedish word for time: tid. The solution itself is a two-state physical sliding mechanism that attaches to a wall in the workplace. It functions with the familiar mechanical logic of the locks or signs used to indicate whether a room is occupied or unoccupied.
When a client arrives at the workplace, they simply slide the mechanism from one position to the other to clock in and activate the time tracker. A built-in chip sends this signal via Wi-Fi to a central screen in the location and actives a voice assistant to welcome the person by name. To clock out at the end of the work session, the employee slides the mechanism back in the other direction.
TIDA shows a different colour for each day of the week, using Sweden’s standard colour codes for communication with disability-affected people. For employees who are unable to use their hands, an arm mechanism or cord can be added to TIDA that it can be activated using the mouth, head or another part of the body. TIDA can also be personalized with the employee’s own picture.
“The fantastic achievement with TIDA is that 100% of the people we made it for are able to use it. We can onboard every single person,” says Ling. “The other great thing we see is how much it empowers people. The higher value of TIDA is the feeling of independence it brings.”
The team’s work has not gone unnoticed.
Skellefteå Municipality showcased the solution to win an EU Access City Award, which recognises work that prioritises accessibility for people with disabilities. TIDA was also named as a 2021 finalist in one of Sweden’s top tech competitions, the CIO Awards. At the time of writing, the solution was one of three finalists picked from 12 nominations in regional competition recognising digital development.
Following TIDA’s successful roll out across multiple locations in Skellefteå, several other Swedish municipalities are expressing interest in the solution. This is where Ling’s team hands over to Tietoevry’s business units to include TIDA in the company’s commercial offering.
“TIDA is the result of some incredible collaboration between the Design and Innovation Lab, Tietoevry Welfare, and Skellefteå Municipality,” says Ling. “Approximately two-thirds of Swedish municipalities are Tietoevry Welfare customers, so there is a huge opportunity to roll TIDA out commercially. We’re seeing a lot of interest in the solution.”
“I’m super proud of what the team has been able to achieve. We hand over a lot of projects, but this one in particular is very near and dear to our hearts,” she says.
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This case is published in our annual report 2022 – read the whole report here.