Digital Interventions for the Marginalised in Society

Principal investigator: Dr. Michael Oduor

The aim of the research was to investigate the use of digital interventions to address the needs of the marginalised in society, to understand the challenges in designing these interventions and the opportunities they avail. The marginalised could include asylum seekers, low-income communities, those without access to financial services, those living in rural areas and so on. In the initial plan, the focus on homelessness but we decided to first review contemporary research on marginalisation before investigating digital interventions for the homeless.

Marginalised communities face significant barriers and inequities in entitlement and access to even basic needs. These include limited access to digital content and/or know-how, communication difficulties, lack of social support and other socioeconomic challenges leading to their stigmatisation. This prevents the marginalised from taking part in societal interactions and navigating the complex and ever-changing social system. For these reasons, the marginalised communities represent unique, urgent and poorly understood challenges with the potential for many technological solutions. There needs to be an in-depth understanding of these unique design challenges posed before implementing any digital intervention.

In the initial phase, we analysed literature on different marginalised communities to find the common themes from research. The key findings from the initial research was the important role of social support. Social support from peers who help to relay important information to those without digital means and from social workers. Social workers who act as mediators and help marginalised communities to find relevant information. Another important finding was the role of policies in amplifying or mitigating the delivery of services. Policymakers should understand the unique challenges of marginalised communities in order not to enact policies detrimental to their wellbeing. Welfare policies and systems can influence the delivery of services; and the individual capacity of a homeless person, for example, could impact their willingness to, and the way they interact with the service systems. This is because the way systems are configured affects the delivery of services and the quality of the service provided.

Th next steps: Review which focuses on investigating existing digital approaches to addressing the needs of the homeless and the outcomes of these. The following study will focus on understanding inclusion and user values from systems thinking perspective.



Evidence-based health promotion @work


The aim of the Evidence-based health promotion @work project is to produce research-based guidelines for workplace health promotion.

Workplaces have a great effect on an individual's health, which is why the focus of the project is on finding effective strategies to promote health behaviour change in different occupational environments. For example, shift workers and micro-entrepreneurs need different kind of health support than workers with less mentally and/or physically demanding occupations. The promoting strategies include e.g. reorienting health services, creating healthy policy and supportive environments, and developing personal skills.

One part of the project is to study how persuasive technology can be utilised in promoting health promotion at work. An intervention will be designed to study the persuasive technology in a work environment.

The project is funded by the Strategic Research Council programme of the Academy of Finland, which funds high-quality, multidisciplinary research projects that have great societal impact.


Finished projects


Improved methods of lifestyle modification for patients at high risk for metabolic syndrome


The object is to find new lifestyle counselling methods for those who are at high risk for metabolic syndrome. During the project, a persuasive ICT application is developed to support making lifestyle and eating habit modifications. The effects of lifestyle counselling methods and ICT application are studied multi-disciplinary.

More information can be found at PrevMetSyn webpage.

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

Academy of Finland

Responding to Public Health Challenges Research Programme (SALVE)

The Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District



Digital Health Revolution


The vision of the Digital Health Revolution –initiative is that future healthcare will allow citizens to control and make use of his or her personal data from numerous sources. Fundamental revolution is needed to truly enhance the proactive, personalized health maintenance for the benefit of individuals, society and business.

Digital Health Revolution aims to: 

  • contribute to the change in the control of data in favour of the individual 
  • explore health-related data from genomics to the digital footprint 
  • develop successful personal data movement across systems and services 
  • create My Data ecosystem for promoting individually and socially more responsive, predictive and preventive health care and wellbeing solutions 
  • promote the My Data based health business

the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation


Eliksiiri / SalWE


The products, services and methods that will be developed in the SALWE research program aimed at maintaining and improving the functional capabilities of an individual, and the ultimate goal being prevention and treatment of diseases with major public health and economic impact. (SALWE)

Persuasive digital interventions (ELIKSIIRI)

Funding: Strategic Centers of Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOK)





Sensors and social web


The target of this project is to create a basis for future health and well-being services by monitoring human ill-being and supporting behaviour change at an early age. By utilizing the latest technology, we can monitor users in their everyday life by collecting sensor data for social web applications in real-time. The social web applications can also give feedback instantly (or even proactively), at a very specific moment when a user has made a good or bad decision affecting her/his health and well-being. It is the best time to support behaviour change. Social interactions, like comments from the user’s peers, can further gain persuasion and improve user experience.

the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation



Social media in the Physical Space of Airports and Shopping Malls

The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation & companies, 2010-2013

The research project examines integrating social media systems as a seamless part of physical spaces and developing physical spaces and its services with the help of feedback gathered via social media.

In the Web2.0 era, the so-called crowdsourcing principles have gained great popularity in participatory design. It is important to understand when and under what circumstances this approach can effectively be used. In the research project methods and indicators are developed that support participatory design, then users can genuinely participate to the development of new products and/or services.

The third research theme in the SOMELETTI project is the user persuasion. Especially in the focus is to motivate customers to provide feedback of the physical facilities and services through the new social and virtual channel, and to participate in the development of spaces and the virtual channel itself by using persuasive technology.

The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation

Finavia Oyj

Business Oulu

Pohjois-Pohjanmaan liitto



Contextual and Persuasive Social Web

Academy of Finland, 2010-2011

Prof. Harri Oinas-Kukkonen

Among the most central questions with new kinds of Web Squared applications are social and behavioural user issues. The goal of this research is to recognize the next wave of the web and to develop design principles for this new wave of Web Squared applications. The proposed research will both investigate existing heart rate monitors and their related systems and services, and develop new concepts for future heart-rate related sports applications, technologies and solutions. A special area of interest is end-user persuasion. The produced research results will help researchers in computer science, information systems, marketing, management, social psychology, sociology, physiology, medicine, and other fields to gain deeper insight on Web Squared and they will help practitioners build better solutions. The applicability of the research results is wide, and the research project has the potential for making a true breakthrough in the global scale.



Rich User Experience and Social Networking in Web2.0

National Technology Agency & companies, 2007-2010

The goal of the RichWeb project is to study and develop design principles and software functionality for the next generation of Web-based and mobile applications.

The Next Generation of the Web: Persuasive and Social Network Aware Software Systems

Academy of Finland, 2008-2009

Prof. Harri Oinas-Kukkonen
The next generation of Web-based information systems emphasizes online collaboration and sharing of knowledge between users. The gap between browser-based and desktop applications may be narrowed down through the so-called Web2.0 technologies. This holds great promises for the future of the Web, but it also comprises challenges. For instance, collaborative nature allows malignant users to hamper the work of others. The project will investigate the key functionalities and the opportunities and risks they pose. In overall, the goal of this project is to develop sound and safe design principles for the next generation of Web-based and mobile applications. Special areas of interest among key functionalities are social network analysis and end-user persuasion.

LTH: Lääkitystiedon hallinta (Managing Medication Knowledge)

National Technology Agency & companies, 2006-2008

B-Webs: Strategic Business Networks in Electronic Markets

Finnish Academy & National Technology Agency, 2001-2004

mH: Mobile Hypermedia and Knowledge-Driven

Companies, National Technology Agency & Finnish Academy, 2002-2003

OWLA: Open Wireless Adaptive Hypermedia Information Systems

National Technology Agency & companies, 2000-2002

VRFlow2: Economics Effects of Hypertext Enhanced Web Flow

National Technology Agency & companies, 2000-2002.

VRFlow: Economics Effects of Virtual Reality and Hypertext Enhanced Web Flow

National Technology Agency & companies, 1998-2000.



Last updated: 15.1.2020