Open Government Data and People in Finland 2011

Presentation Antti Poikola & Marko Latvanen (State Treasury) at the OGDcamp Warsaw 20-21.10.2011. Presentation is based on a survey (60 analysed answers), network analysis and visualized graph of Finnish Open Government Data people and topics. Thanks for Teemo Tebest (network analysis) and Juuso Koponen (Final graph visualization)

See the presentation in Prezi or download the PDF -document.

Year of Open Government Data in Finland – Who is involved and what is going on?

  • Example from one country – one year (What has happened after OGD Camp ’11)
  • Advocate and government point of view
  • You may reflect the situation in your country


  • Access to information produced and/or managed by government was fairly regulated up until the 1990’s. The information was there and it was formally available to citizens, but it often required a lot of patience and skill with the bureaucratic machinery to get it.
  • This was in part caused by the awareness of “sensitive information” during the Cold War years: the USSR was right next door. Also, Finland transformed from an agricultural to industrial, and eventually hi-tech, society in about only 30 years, ca. 1955-1985. The speed of the change made sure that people had other things than public sector information in mind.
  • Finland was in the European forefront when the IT and WWW breakthrough into citizen society began in earnest –> New legislation on Public Sector Information and access to it came into effect in 1999.
  • In the first years of the 21st century we started to lag in the information society developments but are now catching up. The value and applications of open government data are widely recognized and central government is moving as fast as it can (in it’s own pace) in creating State-level OGD policies, services and solutions.

Method – Simple 5 Minute Survey

  • For the OGDcamp (and for other purposes) we wanted to track the Finnish open government data community and the important recent advances and themes. For that purpose we made with Google form a short survey with three main questions:
  1. What has happened in Finland in the area of Open Government Data during the past year (open ended)
  2. Topics: Name 1-3 important changes/events/trends from the past year
  3. Persons: Indicate 1-3 persons who should also answer this survey


  • There’s active cooperation between central government, local administrations, academic research and developers. The network of developers and data loving civil servants is growing fast. The number of Finns in OGDcamp has doubled since last year.
  • The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport and Communications are both active in creating the participant administrative networks and the knowledge base for the upcoming solutions. There is also a “open democraby” developer community surrounding the Finnish parliament.
  • At the local level we have seen open data activity not only in Helsinki, but also at Tampere and Jyväskylä.

Public discussion & attitude change

  • The question of opening government data has appeared positively in insied-government ans public discussions. Interest toward the issue is growing wider beyond the small advocacy community.

Government resolution & programme

  • The government gave a declaration on the importance of OGD in the spring of 2011. The document included several suggestions and recommendations for practical measures to be undertaken fairly soon. Because the parliamentary elections in April led to prolonged negotiations on the new government, the political processes stalled for a few months. In it’s programme (see the direct quotes in the end of this post), the new government has taken a positive stand on the OGD issue which seems to have wide political approval across the party spectrum. This gives hope that things might proceed to the next stage in good order.
  • The new Law on Data Management in Public Administration came into effect on Sept 1 this year. Although the law is mostly about information production and systems, it will have an effect on OGD development as well.

Apps4Finland & Open data events

  • Open data related workshops and events are organized almost weekly. The Apps4Finland contest was now organized for third year in a row and this time the amount of submissions almost tripled from the last year. Many of the sponsors and participants from the earlier years are continuing to work for the open data. “It’s not about the apps it’s about building the community!”

Datajournalism and Helsingin Sanomat -newspaper

  • The global trend of data journalism reached Finland rather quickly. Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest Finnish newspaper have organized several successful hacking events. They have also published their own data resources for reuse and released open data guidelines for the whole newspaper. The day of datajournalism gathered the Finnish ddj people first time together in larger scale and several datajournalism courses are running or about to start.

Real data openings

Forerunner project – Helsinki Region Infoshare

  • The Helsinki Region Infoshare project -project and the resulting data catalog- and clearing house -services have demonstrated what data opening means in practice. This directly enhances the planning of the central government catalogue service.

What next? Opening Soon, some examples:

  • There are plans for an alpha version of the state catalogue in 2012. The state service will cooperate closely with Helsinki Region Infoshare.
  • The huge data repositories of the Finnish Parliament. As open data, these will give citizens access to policy and legislation making data both in the past and in the real-time present. The applications will definitely be diverse and extremely interesting to follow.
  • Netra, the State Treasury’s reporting service on the performance, personnel information and expenditures of the Finnish state. For several years public as an ordinary web site (, this will a veritable motherlode as open data.
  • Some of the Finnish Tax Administration’s data repositories. Lots of questions concerning privacy and person-related data there…
  • Ministry of Employment and the Economy is looking into OGD very closely. The labour market and employment authorities most likely own very interesting data.

“To but it bluntly: we fell a bit wayside a while back, but we are joining the race – with a vengeance!”

Programme of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen’s Government (22 June 2011)

Economic, employment and innovation policy (p. 86)
“Information resources produced using public funding will be opened up for public and corporate access. The goal is to make digital data materials managed by the public sector available to citizens, companies, enterprises and organisations, authorities, and for research and education purposes in an easily reusable format via information networks.”

Policy approach to local government and development of public administration (p. 138)
“Public data will be brought into the public domain in a computer-readable format and available for further processing.”

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