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The Virtual Finland uses the Interoperability platform to open entry bottlenecks

Publication date 1.9.2023 9.10 | Published in English on 1.9.2023 at 9.30
Press release

The Virtual Finland project aims to facilitate the entry and settling-in of foreign employees, students and companies. The project has integrated data collected from individuals and organisations and tested its agile sharing between different government agencies. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency Interoperability Platform, which the project team describes as an excellent and efficient tool for modelling and imaging information, has played a key role.

Several actors in public administration operate around partially overlapping data. Descriptions are produced on the Digital and Population Data Services Agency Interoperability Platform to enable the same interpretation of data between different services. On the platform, different data content is defined in a uniform manner using terminologies, code sets and data models. Data moves between services with the same content and unaltered.

 "The Interoperability Platform has proven to be an excellent platform for experimenting with a new ecosystem model. I have not found any other tools that are equally effective at the national level for modelling information and concisely describing information between different actors in a way that is understandable to everyone," says Jukka Kyhäräinen, Program Manager at The Virtual Finland.

Data moves between services with the same content and unaltered  

With respect to citizens, we talk about the “Ask only once” principle. This means that, for example, a person’s identification data is shared by various official services through the Population Information System and does not need to be provided to each actor separately.

Organisations, on the other hand, can complement the Interoperability Platform and add their own content that utilises the existing platform specifications. When this kind of content is added jointly by several different organisations, unnecessary overlaps and silos between organisations and sectors can be avoided.

A vision for a shared digital service portal and targeted services  

The objective of The Virtual Finland project is to facilitate the processing of foreign jobseeker and student data. There has been much public debate on the slowness of processing. 

The challenge here is that the data collected by different authorities has been overlapping and in slightly different formats. The Interoperability Platform is now being used to streamline services. In practice, with respect to jobseekers and the organisations receiving them, the data collection process will be intensified, while making it easier for authorities to access information and processing more efficient. 

The Virtual Finland on the Interoperability Platform

  • Challenge: Various methods of data collection and registration that hamper the transfer of data between systems
  • Tool used: Glossary, Code and Data Model tools maintained by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency and freely available to authorities and organisations on the Interoperability Platform.
  • Solution: Collaborative modelling of data with the help of Interoperability Platform tools and trials with different case studies
  • Opportunities: Increased sharing of sector and organisation data across sectoral boundaries, service innovation  
  • In cooperation with: Finnish Immigration Service, Tax Administration and Digital and Population Data Services Agency
  • Additional information: and

The project was launched and coordinated by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs within the Government Programme. In particular, data model and code tools from the Interoperability Platform were utilised in the work. 

Initially, data that individuals or organisations arriving from abroad must submit to different authorities and parties was mapped. Then, common data descriptions were created for the platform. These descriptions have now been used to conduct various trials.

In practice, a separate test platform was created for the project on the Interoperability Platform, in which the latest common data descriptions of the Finnish Immigration Service, Tax Administration and Digital and Population Data Services Agency have been tested. Trials were conducted on, for example, how foreign jobseekers could be offered jobs that match their qualifications more precisely. In addition, the project envisions establishing a shared digital service portal for actors and the City of Helsinki.

Interoperability Platform attracting interest from abroad

The topic selected for the trial was ideal for piloting, as the jobseeking process does not require strong authentication or a Finnish personal identity code. The Platform and existing glossaries, codes and data models also enable the coordination of many other services. Adding new content to the Platform requires a little effort. 

"If we could just take a moment to focus on describing the data, we would achieve a huge cost benefit. Even though key authorities agree that it must be possible to facilitate the use of services, not all sectors are so keen on this yet. I hope that modelling and describing can become a controlled activity," adds Kyhäräinen.

The project also trialled locating basic company data between the different Nordic countries. The private sector, such as banks and accounting firms, has shown interest in the use of common data descriptions in English. The use of data descriptions could have a major impact on the seamlessness of official reporting or opening a branch in another Nordic country. 

Kyhäräinen recommends trialling the Interoperability Platform in different sectors and organisations. The Virtual Finland project has shown how the Interoperability Platform can genuinely enhance processes and open up entirely new opportunities. Cooperation plays a key role in its success.
"In general, small trials and piloting within organisations reveal something that we haven’t seen before. It inspires us to go further and eliminate unnecessary overlaps or see completely new opportunities. There really is no future without cooperation," says Kyhäräinen. 

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