Digital services must become the primary way of managing official matters in the next government term, Director General Janne Viskari requires
Digital and Population Data Services Agency proposes that public services’ transactions become digital during the next government term. Other ways of using the services are offered to those who cannot use digital services. This is not possible under the current law, so a legislative amendment is necessary. The matter will be discussed at the Digihumaus event on 28 March and in a report published there.
4.2 million people used the Finnish public administration's digital services last year, according to the services’ user statistics. This figure corresponds to 93 % of Finns of age, a total of 4.5 million. However, the authorities are still obliged to send all decisions by post, on paper, if the customer has not separately given their consent to electronic communication with the authorities. The authorities have a paper requirement even when the customer has used a digital service, but has not given their consent to electronic communication.
– Digital services must be made a statutory primary service method for those who are able to use them. In addition, public administration agents must be obliged to send messages to their customers primarily in electronic form. This makes everyday life easier and brings significant savings to society, says Janne Viskari, Director General of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.
Denmark shows the way with its annual savings of hundreds of millions of euros
Year after year, Finland has been at the forefront of international digitalisation comparisons. Another leading country is Denmark, whose digital policies have been carefully studied by experts from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.
In 2012–2015, Denmark implemented a programme in which public administration switched to digital messaging. Already in 2018, almost 92 % of Danish citizens and 100 % of Danish businesses were covered by digital messaging. At that time, more than 140 million digital messages were sent. According to the Danish Agency for Digital Government (Digitaliseringsstyrelsen), this resulted in a saving of EUR 268 million.
– A similar change should be implemented in Finland in 2023–2027. Direct savings will result in particular by the reduced amount of paper mail. In addition, citizens benefit from being able to manage matters regardless of time and place, Viskari notes.
Being a forerunner means having the courage to do things first
Digital Suomi.fi services developed by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency are widely used in Finland. For example, approximately 15 million identifications are made through Suomi.fi e-Identification in public administration's digital services every month. Already more than one million people receive messages from the authorities digitally via Suomi.fi messaging.
– The majority of Finns can and want to use digital services, so digital services could be the primary way to manage everyday matters. Naturally other ways of using the services will also be needed in the future, as not everyone can use digital services, Viskari says.
Finland was the first country in which a private individual, company or organisation could digitally authorise someone else to manage matters on their behalf. This is possible with Suomi.fi e-Authorisations.
– Finland should learn from the best practices used by other digital forerunner countries, such as Denmark. Sometimes you also have to dare to be the pioneer. We can anticipate the needs of society, and by boldly developing new digital services, we can make everyday life smoother for everyone, Viskari states.
There are certain obstacles to the full use of digital services that are due to the legislation in force.
– Digitalisation development is fast-paced, and if Finland wants to remain in the forefront of it, the country requires bold reforms and enabling legislation. We hope that the next Government of Finland will reform legislation to enable the wider use of digital services, Viskari concludes.
Digital and Population Data Services Agency released on 28 March 2023 the Digihumaus report that presents four development proposals for the coming years in relation to the agency’s field of activity. Key drivers of change that are impacting us all are examined through five megatrends. The report is a continuity of the Digihumaus reports from the four previous years.
Digihumaus to explore future digital visions
Digital services as a primary service channel and keeping Finland at the forefront of digitalisation are main themes of the Digihumaus seminar organised by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency on Tuesday 28 March from 9 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. at restaurant Töölö in Helsinki.
The event speakers are Olli Rehn, Governor of the Bank of Finland, Mathias Trier Reindel, Head of Section in the Danish Agency for Digital Government, and Elina Hiltunen, futurist.
Mika Tuuliainen, Chief Policy Adviser at the Confederation of Finnish Industries, Maria Ritola, entrepreneur and researcher, and Janne Viskari, Director General of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, discuss the digital development in Denmark and the its suitability for Finland.
Digihumaus seminar was streamed as a live webinar on Tuesday 28 March 2023. You can watch the webinar as a recording until the 30th April 2023. Please note that the webinar is in Finnish.
Janne Viskari, Director General of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, [email protected], tel. +358 295 536 000 (switchboard)
Inquiries concerning the Digihumaus event and report: [email protected], tel. +358 295 535 060 (communications on-call for media contacts Monday to Friday 9–16)
Updated 12.4.2023: Digihumaus webinar can be watched as a recording until 30.4.2023