Espoo’s use of data gets a boost from the government

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2020-06-17 14:41

The Ministry of Finance has granted Helsinki, Espoo, Turku and Oulu slightly over EUR 2 million as funding for MyData projects. Espoo’s share of the funding is EUR 150,000. The aim is to improve the cities’ technical capabilities, enabling them to use residents’ data while ensuring the protection of individuals and data security. Residents’ data refers to data that is collected from the residents through the city’s systems as the residents use the city’s services.

The funding will help Espoo and the other cities to use their residents’ data better. The digitalisation of services in itself is not what the cities aim for. Instead, their goal is to use technology to provide municipal residents with services that facilitate their everyday lives. The key to this is using data based on the consent of the residents.

Espoo to investigate MyData’s possibilities

Espoo’s contribution will be to explore the use of MyData in the city’s services. The investigation will cover the municipality’s core processes: customer management, the organisation of services and the production of services.

The City of Espoo plans to explore municipal services in a resident-oriented manner and look for example cases and situations where applying MyData will increase effectiveness and reduce costs. The aim is not to create new services. The city will look for the cases together with the residents.

“We could for example find out if MyData collected by a resident’s smart watch could be added to their client data stored by the City of Espoo. Or whether someone who moves here from another city could bring their data with them,” says Tomas Lehtinen, Data Analyst Consultant at the City of Espoo.

Cities use data to the benefit of residents

The trust between the city and the residents is very important: the resident must understand how the city uses data. Cities collect a lot of data. The problem is that the data is scattered across different systems and often hard to put into use where it would be the most useful. In addition, cities do not use data without permission. In this regard, what matters are clear and understandable requests for consent to ensure that people understand what they are consenting to.

Cities’ strengths lie in the immense masses of data that have already been collected and also in the fact that cities are trusted as users of data. Technology alone is not enough to maintain this trust. What counts is the ethically sustainable and transparent use of data.

Helsinki, Espoo, Turku and Oulu want to be involved in shaping the ethical guidelines on the use of data and artificial intelligence. The City of Espoo aims to use the residents’ data in a fair and open manner, in compliance with shared standards. A part of this aim is ensuring that if data is refined, the refinement algorithms used by artificial intelligence are open and non-discriminatory.

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