A recent independent report comparing developed nations’ digitisation of public services puts Finland second only to Denmark in the western world. It is estimated that Denmark and Finland are many years ahead of the rest of Europe in terms of availability and access of public services over the internet.
It is probably the most ambitious project undertaken by any government so far.
Development in Finland has been going on for many years with the support of all the political parties because they understand that digital solutions are one of the most important ways to retain global competitiveness in the future.
The website www.suomi.fi (“Suomi” means Finland in Finnish) is the government’s new site to aggregate most of the different public services on to one site.
The plan, which is already been partially implemented, offers residents, companies and visitors a secure place to manage their traffic licences, vehicle taxes, residence data, education, employment, healthcare, family and personal matters, company register, in other words all official matters with central an local government.
The site is already available in 3 languages – Finnish, Swedish and English.
It is secure and during the last year the system has only been interrupted for some 15 hours during some 6 occurrences – 3 of which were due to bank network failures for logging on to the website.
All of the data is stored on separate servers located in Finland, with each ministry or other official body maintaining their own independent data centres under strict standardised security and access regulations.
User access to any personal data is only possible using a user name, a bank identification key code, and a password. When logged on, the user’s data is passed on to the user’s computer or smart phone securely, from the data centres of relevant authorities. This information is then deleted upon logging out.
Access to user data is controlled by strictly defined rules set in legislation, and only authorised personnel can access this information in the exercise of their official duties.
To understand the level of sophistication is is worth looking at 4 important applications which are already available:
- It is possible to review any personal data in any part of this system with just one sign-on.
- It is possible to give a power of attorney to another person for any official business on this system from the comfort of your home.
- It will be possible to plan travel arrangements locally or nationally using public or private transport
- No citizen is forced to use this digital portal, and staff will be at hand to assist older folk of others who are physically handicapped.
The work will continue until completion which is estimated to be in 2021.
It is worth noting that the system is not creating new “Big Brother” systems, but is only seeking to bring public services nearer to citizens in a format which is easier to understand and use.
Let’s repeat this – no new intrusive services are ´being introduced with this portal, only accessibility is being improved.
A new column on new legislation and innovations regarding mega data services for Finnish healthcare is being prepared for FinnishNews and will be published shortly.