Sharing data for better services in Helsinki

  • knowledge society

We recently published a case study on the Helsinki Metropolitan Area’s open data platform, Helsinki Region Infoshare

Sharing data with citizens can lead to better public services, greater transparency and closer links between a local government and its citizens. This is what motivated the Helsinki Metropolitan Area – made up of EUROCITIES members Espoo, Helsinki and Vantaa together with Kauniainen - to launch Helsinki Region Infoshare in 2010. This open data platform now comprises over 1,000 datasets, from data on public transport, decision making and schools to historical maps and aerial photos.

The data is available for app developers to transform into useful mobile apps; an example is Blindsquare, an app to help blind people navigate the city. Helsinki City Council also adopted an electronic case management system called Ahjo in 2011. All of the documents, such as agendas and minutes from council, committee and board meetings, are now accessible to citizens.

This prompted app developer Jouni Tiainen to create ‘Ahjo Explorer’ which gives access to all public decisions concerning the city of Helsinki directly to a Windows phone. Examples such as this demonstrate how open data can help citizens develop informed opinions about, understand, and contribute to public decision making.

As Jouni Tiainen points out: “An open interface to every decision making system in Finnish municipalities would allow all Finns to follow the issues discussed and decisions being made in their own municipalities”.

HRI is being continually developed: each city has its own contact person who continually monitors and identifies data that could be published on the platform. The project cost around €820,000 to start with and is expected to cost around €60,000 a year once it enters into the maintenance phase.

HRI was a finalist in the 2013 EUROCITIES awards in the ‘smart governance’ category. It has published a guidebook, ‘Helsinki Region Infoshare, 2 years of open public data’, telling the story of HRI’s development and the emergence of the open data phenomenon, available here.

Click on the link below for our full case study.