Design Thinking & Multi-Actor Approach in NIVA

Step 2 – DEFINE

Christine O’Meara (TSSG), Dave Hearne (TSSG)


New IACS Vision In Action (NIVA) a H2020 funded project, aims to develop and implement technologies that will deliver a more seamless Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in particular through improvements to the key administrative control platform (the instrument for CAP governance) – Integrated Administrative Control System. In Ireland, an interdisciplinary team led by the Department of Agriculture is working on Use Case 4a, working with TSSG (application development) and Teagasc (Socio economic research supporting adoption) to develop a geo-tagged photo mobile application which will be used to resolve claim queries.

This third blog post in our NIVA mini-series provides an overview of the first step [DEFINE] of the multi-actor approach employed in NIVA. For some background on this project and process please have a look at the first post in the series here. The DEFINE stage is concerned with reframing and redefining the challenge to reflect the insights gathered from future users and stakeholders.

The digital innovation being developed and piloted as part of use case 4a was designed to reduce on-the-spot field inspections through the creation of a mobile app that would enable farmers to take geo-tagged photos of a specific land parcel. These photos would be taken in response to a request from the paying agency to resolve a query related to a payment claim. The application would need to include anti-spoofing measures to ensure veracity of photo. On-the-spot checks are burdensome both for the farmer and the paying agency and can slow down processing activities. The original definition of the problem at the outset was focussed on replacing time/ labour intensive inspections with a digital alternative. Farmer acceptance and engagement were identified as critical success factors. The extensive work accomplished in the EMPATHISE phase has helped to flesh out a full understanding of the problem at hand.

The DEFINITION phase has revealed three key dimensions to the challenge being tackled in Use Case 4a;

·         The Technology Dimension extends beyond the creation of a functional, reliable mobile application and must consider a variety of factors. Access to reliable internet and smartphones will vary within the farmer population. Similarly, access may be limited as a result of the low confidence level with technology of certain segments within the farmer population. Previous experience with technology may influence adoption of the mobile application, for example, if the application resembles an application which the farmer uses regularly and rates highly then the changes of success are higher. Usability will also influence levels of uptake.

·         The Trust Dimension is a complex one and extends beyond the delivery of a reliable and functional application. This phase has indicated that there is a not an insignificant level of mistrust between various stakeholders. Some farmers feel that paying agencies ‘are out to get me’. Inspectors raised concerns about farmers uploading the correct photo or using misleading photos.  Another issue expressed by some participants in the focus groups was that this application would enable more monitoring with potentially negative consequences.  Farmers also expressed frustration at the lack of control or visibility over the communications process with the paying agency. Additionally some farmers and advisors felt that the application might result in farmers inadvertently self-implicating themselves.

·         The Value Dimension refers to the reasons that famers might consider using the geo-tag mobile application. A cohort of focus group participants were not convinced that the technology would make their lives easier. There was also some concern that some stakeholders would benefit (e.g. Paying Agency) while others would not (Advisors might have greater workload). Many stakeholders emphasised the importance of the process working efficiently and improving the current process. The view that there would need to be a clear, efficient process that improved the current stake of play was a common one. Some fears were expressed including the fear that those not using the technology would be left behind and also the fear of penalty for non-compliance.

The next blog post will discuss the ‘IDEATE’ process, giving an overview of the collaboration that occurred in a series of workshops which has driven the prototype design.