Open Ahjo engages citizens in local decision making by making information and data from the city council available online.
Decision making in Helsinki had a boost in 2013 with the launch of Open Ahjo, a centralised and open IT system for decision making. The online platform means anyone can look up and search for data relating to decision making in the city, such as meeting agendas and minutes and information from the city’s committees and boards. The material is all available in a machine-readable format, meaning that app developers can use it to create services that make life in Helsinki more convenient.
The platform has existed since 2011 for city staff, and was opened up to the public in 2013 in an effort to improve decision making transparency. The centralised system also helps avoid the duplication of work, facilitate communication and increase productivity.
Anyone can access the information and can search by keyword, committee or location. This article in Citiscope describes how citizens can make the most of Open Ahjo: “[Open Ahjo] makes it easy to follow, for example, every decision the education department has made relating to your specific neighbourhood. It also makes it easy to keep track of specific items, such as music lessons in pre-schools, as they make their way through the city’s bureaucracy.”
Open Ahjo offers a unique opportunity to use data related to the city’s decision making processes in different kinds of applications and make them interoperable with other datasets, such as the city’s economic data. Data associated with decision making had previously been published on the city’s website in PDF and HTML formats, but it was difficult to find and follow. Thanks to Open Ahjo, developers can use the data to create user-friendly applications, like Ahjo Explorer, which provides an easy way to navigate and follow the city’s decision making.
In 2013, Helsinki won the European Prize for Innovation in Public Administration for its open data initiatives, which are helping to better engage citizens in decision making. The city has been investing the €100,000 prize in further developing Open Ahjo. Future plans include developing Open Helsinki, which involves integrated even more public docuemnts into the system.
We published a short case study on Open Ahjo in ‘European smart cities using ICT’, a collection of case studies from Green Digital Charter signatories available here.
Our ‘Cities in action’ case study from 2014 also looks at Open Ahjo and some of the apps that have been developed using the data.
Or visit Open Ahjo for yourself, here.
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