2. Motivation and organisation

Benefits of opening data

This part describes the benefits of sharing data as open data for different parties and society.

Open data is machine-readable data in digital format that is freely available to everyone for any purpose as long as its original source is acknowledged. Examples of open data are census data, map data or real-time information about bus locations.

Why should you share data with parties outside your organisation?

Rather than reducing in value, digital data becomes more valuable, the more it is used. When an organisation openly shares its data for wider use, parties outside the organisation, such as companies and citizens, can use the same data for their own purposes.

As a rule, public administration organisations collect and manage data for the purpose of their statutory tasks. This means that large information resources may be accumulated for a single purpose or a handful of tasks. By making this data more widely available to others, significant productivity growth and increased operational efficiency can be achieved. In addition, opening the data may create new opportunities for its wider use in society.

    Open access datasets

    • promote democracy and transparency of administration
    • engage citizens and encourage their activity
    • increase the efficiency of organisations’ activities and improve their performance, and
    • enable business and financial development through innovations and new services.

    Everyone has the right to obtain information about public documents and other recordings. Under section 12 of the Constitution of Finland (731/1999), documents and recordings in the possession of the authorities are public, unless their publication has for compelling reasons been specifically restricted by an Act. According to the principle of openness (Act on the Openness of Government Activities 621/1999), official documents shall be in the public domain, unless specifically provided otherwise in this Act or another Act. An organisation may also choose to provide wider access to its data if this is not prevented by such reasons as contractual terms, copyrights, data protection regulations, data security issues or other factors.

    What are the benefits of sharing information as open data?

    The benefits of open data can be examined in different ways, such as from an economic, social, ecological or political perspective, or in terms of performance. For example, the opening of environmental data promotes the circular economy, more efficient use of natural resources and biodiversity, whereas transparency regarding the central government’s budget and procurement data improves efficient use of tax revenue and supports the fight against corruption.

    In the model provided on data.europa.eu, the benefits are examined from the viewpoint of performance and the perspectives of economic and societal benefits, in particular. 

    Read more about the benefits of opening data on the data.europa.eu service

    To assess the potential benefits of sharing data, organisations can use the method described in detail in step 4 Benefits, risks and costs.

    How can you use open data?

    Open data can be used by anyone. Many companies and developers make use of open data in various services, applications and studies, for instance.

    The following offer examples of ways in which open data can be used:

    • Showcases on opendata.fi
      • The showcase gallery of the opendata.fi provides examples of services and applications from all around Finland. 
    • Showcases on hri.fi
      • The showcase gallery of Helsinki Region Infoshare provides examples of applications that use data concerning the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

    To assess the potential benefits of sharing data, organisations can use the method described in detail in chapter 4 Benefits, risks and costs.

    Benefits of opening data to public administration

    In public administration, the opening of data and its use improve information management and knowledge management, decision-making and performance as well as promote the planning and implementation of public services.

    Providing access to public sector information resources as widely and openly as possible across sectoral boundaries may

    • save resources
    • develop and improve the efficiency of the administration's internal processes
    • improve the quality, descriptions and discoverability of data.

    Mapping the data to be opened and planning the opening processes alone may help the organisation to develop.

    Information on open data in public administration on the data.europa.eu service. 

    Examples of the use and benefits of open data

    Open purchase invoice data

    Many municipalities and the central government have published their purchase invoice data as open data. This has strongly increased the transparency of public administration, making it possible to compare the purchasing activities of public administration organisations, and contributed to prudent use of public funds.

    Open access to purchase invoice data has enabled the State Treasury to create the user-friendly Openprocurement.fi service, on which data concerning different organisations can easily be compared.

    Municipalities’ and joint municipal authorities’ open financial information

    Financial information approved by municipalities and joint municipal authorities is available as open data in JSON and XML formats through a REST interface. This has made it possible for the State Treasury to create the user-friendly explore administration service. This information can be freely used either as raw data or through an interface, for example for knowledge management and operational development in public administration.

    Open spatial datasets

    The Finnish Environment Institute

    The Finnish Environment Institute's open datasets are used diversely to support planning and decision-making, including in land use planning and various permit processes as well as to assess the environmental impacts of projects. These datasets are also used as research and teaching materials at universities and other educational institutions.

    The Finnish Environment Institute's spatial data combined with other datasets are also used in services intended for communication and sharing of environmental data, which such actors as the ELY Centres have prepared for municipalities and other stakeholders in their areas. Examples of this can be found on the website of the ELY Centre for Pirkanmaa (in Finnish). Other examples of applications using the Finnish Environment Institute’s spatial data include vesi.fi (source of research information on water) (in Finnish) and meriopas.fi intended for finding and viewing information on the seas.

    The Finnish Environment Institute’s open spatial datasets can be downloaded as data packages or by using open interface services. Metadata descriptions have also been prepared for these datasets. Download services compliant with the INSPIRE Directive provide access to the Finnish Environment Institute's INSPIRE datasets mainly via Atom feeds as GML files. Some of the datasets are available through a WFS direct download service. Spatial datasets downloaded from the Finnish Environment Institute’s service are covered by an open data licence.

    The National Land Survey of Finland

    The National Land Survey's open datasets are widely used in different sectors, including the public administration, forestry, construction, navigation, software design and production, research and education. The open datasets are also widely used in various leisure activities.

    Examples of browser services:

    Examples of mobile applications:

    Open data is also used in commercial navigation applications.

    The National Land Survey’s map and spatial datasets are available both as an API service and a file service. The API service always provides the most up-to-date data and uses such standards as WMS, WMT, WFS, REST and OGC API Feature. MapSite and Paikkatietoikkuna are examples of user interfaces implemented with API services. Files available through the file service are datasets describing a certain point in time. The National Land Survey has provided instructions for making use of the API service and file service

    The Finnish Meteorological Institute

    The Finnish Meteorological Institute's open spatial datasets are available as a download, viewing or file service, depending on the set. Most of the datasets can be accessed through a machine-readable WFS interface compliant with the INSPIRE Directive. The most common weather observations are also available through the Finnish Meteorological Institute's website using a special user interface. Additionally, some of the grid format data has also been published on Amazon AWS Public Datasets service.

    The website of the Finnish Meteorological Institute provides examples of using open weather data (in Finnish)

    Statistics Finland

    Statistics Finland's open spatial datasets comprise statistical areas and statistical data combined with them. The datasets can be accessed through a WMS and WFS interface, and some are available in INSPIRE Directive compliant form through a WMS interface and an OGC API Features interface of a new type.

    Open data in Suomi.fi Finnish Service Catalogue

    The services provided by the public administration and various service channels associated with them have been described in a uniform format in Suomi.fi Finnish Service Catalogue (PTV), which is a shared and centralised information reserve maintained by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. While public administration organisations have a statutory obligation to use the Suomi.fi Finnish Service Catalogue, private service providers can also use the service within its terms of use.

    The data in Suomi.fi Finnish Service Catalogue is up to date and reliable, fully open and provided free of charge. The Finnish Service Catalogue eliminates any need to maintain data on services and service channels in a number of different systems, as the organisation can automatically use its service channel content in the Finnish Service Catalogue through an open interface. The Social Services Institution (Kela), for example, uses its service point data registered in the Finnish Service Catalogue in its own service point search function by retrieving the information on joint service points from the Catalogue. This means that the information maintained by municipalities is updated in Kela's service point search function. The solutions developed in the national artificial intelligence programme AuroraAI (in Finnish) also use the open data in the Finnish Service Catalogue.

    Business benefits of opening data

    Open datasets are highly beneficial to companies' business.  Open access datasets can significantly reduce a company's investment needs and save its resources. By using open data, companies can develop their existing operations and create completely new business. This may produce new added value to the company's customers or expand the customer base further. The company can also recruit new employees, which is of high value for society. 

    In addition, open data can help the company to improve its

    • knowledge management,
    • decision-making,
    • performance, and
    • the efficiency of its service design and delivery.

    The business benefits generated by open data are both direct and indirect. The direct benefits are economic benefits that, for example, increase the company's capital, create new jobs, or bring cost savings. Indirect benefits refer to the creation of new services, increased efficiency of organisations 'operations and business growth, for instance. 

    Example: Maas Global Oy

    Maas Global markets to its customers Whim, an application subject to a monthly fee, which combines public transport, city bikes, taxies, car sharing and car rental. The company relies on local partners in its service production.

    MaaS Global is the world's first company to provide mobility as a service. More than 20 million trips have been completed using this service launched in December 2018. MaaS Global uses open data to plan itineraries and produce timetables. In addition, Maas Global's business operations are based on access to other actors’ (ticketing and payment) interfaces. This means that the company can buy tickets from Helsinki Region Transport, for example, and sell trips based on them in its application.
    In 2019, Maas Global was presented with the European ‘Future Unicorn Award’. The term ‘unicorn’ refers to a company whose value exceeds EUR 1 billion. Read more about the Future Unicorn Award.

    Example: Gispo Oy

    Gispo Oy is a Finnish spatial data company whose aim is to promote the development and use of open source spatial data software and open spatial data. Gispo works with spatial data in its different life cycle stages and actively uses open data in its consulting and training services. The company has grown both within and outside Finland. 

    Watch a recording on open data use in spatial data companies (in Finnish).

    Benefits of opening data for society

    For example, open access datasets increase the transparency of public administration and build trust. Open data is used in such areas as research, education and the mass media.

    Use of open data in education

    Open datasets, open source code software and open scientific publishing have had a major impact on education. Open datasets are used widely in geographic teaching at universities, for instance.

    Today, authentic open spatial datasets can be used in teaching, instead of imaginary data. Students are encouraged to search for and demand open datasets and open source software as well as to share their output openly. Read more about the use of open data in geography teaching.

    Open data is also used at universities of applied sciences. For example, students at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences have for several years been offered courses where real-life problems are solved using open datasets and interfaces. Read more about the cooperation between Metropolia UAS and HRI (in Finnish)

    Students at Häme University of Applied Sciences have also been actively guided to use open datasets. See e.g. Kukkamäki, J., Mikkonen, A., Stormi, I. & Mäntyneva, M. (2020). Use of open data in education and science (in Finnish). In J. Kukkamäki & M. Tarkkala (eds.), Avoin Häme. HAMK Unlimited Journal 25 Aug 2020.

    Use of open data in research

    Open datasets are used in theses, doctoral dissertations and other scientific research projects.

    Open science and research in the Finnish research community are coordinated by the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies with funding provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The aim of this coordination is to promote discussion on the objectives and methods of open science and research within the academic community and to promote cooperation and raise awareness of the opportunities, challenges and solutions of open science and research. Read more on open science avointiede.fi.

    Open data has also been produced and used by the Digital Geography Lab of the University of Helsinki which has, among other things, produced open access travel time matrix data in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

    Read more about the Digital Geography Lab’s research group or watch a recording on open data use at higher education institutions (in Finnish).

    Theses in which open data has been used can be found in University of Helsinki’s digital archive and the University of Tampere’s search service. Open data has been used in a Master's thesis on landscape research at the University of Turku (in Finnish), for example. 

    The benefits and use of open data in business were examined in the dissertation by Herrala, Antti. 2018. Benefits from Open Data: Barriers of Supply and Demand of Open Data in Private Organizations.

    Use of open data in the media

    The media and journalists actively use open data to produce news items and other articles. This work is known as data journalism. For more information on data journalism, see the website created by the universities of Tampere and Jyväskylä.

    For instance, Yle’s Plus-desk (in Finnish) creates impressive and in-depth online journalism as part of Yle’s news and current affairs reporting. The Plus-desk produces data journalism, visual features, virtual reality and interactive articles.

    Read a Plus-desk journalist’s experiences of using open data and interfaces (in Finnish).

    Helsingin Sanomat also has a desk focusing on data journalism, which makes extensive use of different datasets in its articles. For example, Helsingin Sanomat has produced:

    (Articles are for subscribers only)

    Helsingin Sanomat was awarded a bronze medal in the international Malofiej Awards for Infographics for an article drawing on open data and a certificate of honour in the Datamenestyjät competition intended for parties using Statistics Finland’s datasets.

    Networks that promote cooperation

    This step describes what open data cooperation networks mean and what types of networks are already in existence.

    A network consisting of organisations that open their datasets and parties using this data can be called an open data ecosystem and a cooperation network. It comprises all actors and systems involved in opening, publishing, maintaining and using data. In the best-case scenario, an ecosystem of data sharing and use benefits all parties involved in it.

    Data collected and managed by the public sector is often only used for a few statutory tasks. Cooperation networks can help identify more data needs, and data can be used more comprehensively.

    An organisation opening its data should identify parties interested in the data to be shared and existing networks focusing on this theme around it in which it could join. If necessary, the organisation can create new networks to promote dialogue with stakeholders. Potential data users can help organisations specify the data to be opened and the method used to share it, for example an API. 

    Organisations can activate data users by means of surveys, interviews, workshops, training, lectures or hackathons. 

    What is a hackathon?

    Hackathon is an event where teams create solutions to specified challenges or assignments. The challenges may be presented by a public administration organisation or a company, for instance. The teams participating in a hackathon usually consist of persons from different fields and backgrounds with a self-motivated interest in the topic.

    The typical duration of a hackathon is a few hours or days, and the teams must complete their solutions during the event. The party setting the challenge often presents a prize for the best solutions at the end of the event.

    Hackathons are usually relaxed events that offer a good opportunity to network and find partners. In Finland, various actors have been active in organising hackathons in recent years. While their themes vary greatly, hackathons quite often encourage the use of open datasets, which has also created great added value for solution development. The outcomes of hackathons can bring publicity to open data and increase the number of users.

    Some of the best-known ecosystems and networks promoting open data

    Open Knowledge Finland

    Open Knowledge Finland (OKFI) is a non-profit organisation established in 2012 to promote the opening and use of data. The organisation is a partner association of the international Open Knowledge network in Finland. It is a network of a few hundred members, a dozen organisations and a few thousand people with an active core team of around 40 professionals and activists that promotes the attainment of the organisation's goals through both projects and lobbying.

    Open government

    Finland joined the international Open Government Partnership project in 2013. In this project, each country promotes the openness of its government through two-year action plans. 
    The Ministry of Finance has published an open government strategy that guides this work in Finland.

    The open government strategy has four focus areas
    that guide the activities under the Open Government Action Plan in the 2020s.

    • Open government enhances dialogue in society.
    • Open government promotes everyone's right to understand and be understood.
    • Through management and competence, an opportunity to participate can be secured for everyone.
    • Finland is an active promoter of open government in international forums.

    Open data is one of the themes of open government, as it increases the transparency of public administration and prevents corruption. Read more on the Open Government website.

    OpenGLAM Finland (AvoinGLAM)

    The AvoinGLAM network works together with cultural heritage organisations to promote the opening up of cultural data and digital contents as well as the use of open datasets. AvoinGLAM is part of the international OpenGLAM network, which consists of actors working with open content and data.
    The network has a public Facebook group called Avoin GLAM. AvoinGLAM currently operates under the auspices of OKFI in close cooperation with Wikimedia Finland.

    Creative Commons Finland

    Creative Commons Finland (CCFI) is a network that represents the global Creative Commons network in Finland. CCFI was previously based in Aalto University, and it now operates under the auspices of OKFI.

    CCFI administrates the creativecommons.fi (in Finnish) website, and it has coordinated the work to produce Finnish translations of the different Creative Commons licence versions.

    Open data network

    The six largest cities in Finland (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku and Oulu) carried out the Open data and interfaces key project (in Finnish) with the support of the 6Aika funding instrument in 2014–2017. The aim of the project was to create common operating models for opening data, to launch harmonised APIs and to promote open data use, especially in business. This work was carried out in different cities simultaneously and following the same methods, which resulted in a significant increase in cooperation both among the cities and between the cities and companies. After the conclusion of the project, the opening of data has been carried on as part of the cities’ basic activities, and the cooperation network formed in the project has continued to operate. 

    The network organises cooperation meetings around once every three months to share information on current actions and plan possible cooperation activities. The meetings are also open to other municipalities, and experts from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency's opendata.fi service have also participated in them.

    Federation of Finnish Learned Societies

    The Federation of Finnish Learned Societies coordinates the national Open Science and Research Strategy and the policies, recommendations and guidelines contained in it, which have a strong guiding effect on the opening of data possessed by higher education institutions and research institutes (research articles, teaching materials, teaching practices, operating culture). The Federation’s work has brought together researchers, university libraries, scientific clubs and government agencies at the national level. Read more on the Open science website.

    Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities

    The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities is a lobbyist, development partner and provider of expert and information services in the local government sector, the members of which are Finnish municipalities and cities. The regional councils, hospital districts, other joint municipal authorities and limited liability companies with a local government background are also involved in its work. Finnish municipalities are independent producers and users of information. Especially for small municipalities, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities and the guidelines, manuals, training and services it provides are essential to enable the opening of data. Read more about the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities’ services (in Finnish)

    Wikimedia Finland

    Wikimedia Finland (WMFI) (in Finnish) is the Finnish partner association of the international Wikimedia Foundation. It coordinates Finnish-language Wikimedia projects (including Wikipedia, Wikiopisto, Wikikirjasto). As all Wikimedia projects are based on open data, WMFI is a key user of open data. The most important Wikimedia project in terms of open data is Wikidata. 

    Finnish Open Data Ecosystem Facebook group

    The Facebook group Finnish Open Data Ecosystem (FODE) is a public group established in 2009 and administrated by OKFI that welcomes everyone interested in open data. It is Finland's largest open data Facebook group with around 5,000 members.

    Municipalities' open data group

    Facebook group for municipalities’ open data is a public network set up to serve the needs of those opening local government data and information. In this group, municipalities and other parties working together with them, including higher education institutions, companies, other authorities and different communities or individual people, can share information, ask questions about opening data, share tips about where to find data, search for partners and provide each other with peer support as parties opening data and government in municipalities. The group is administrated by the relevant experts of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

    {API:Finland} Facebook group

    {API:Suomi} is a public and open Facebook group for discussing open data, APIs, the API economy, standards in this field and other relevant issues. The group is an informal platform for sharing information. Its members include business managers, experts, public officials, scientists, civil society actors, investors, and representatives of API product and service companies.

    HRI Loves Developers

    HRI Loves Developers is about communication and cooperation aimed at developers interested in open data in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. It is coordinated by Helsinki Region Infoshare, which is the joint open data service of the cities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. One of the communication channels for these activities is the public Facebook group HRI Loves Developers. HRI organises developer meetings open to everyone that focus on a specific theme four to five times a year. Read more about developer cooperation in the cities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

    In addition to the developer meetings, HRI organises courses and lectures in cooperation with higher education institutions in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. HRI experts have given a number of individual lectures at higher education institutions on open data and open spatial datasets as well as the potential of using them. HRI has also organised courses together with Metropolia University of Applied Sciences for several years. On these one-semester courses, the students work in small groups to create mobile applications associated with the themes or data provided for them.

    Turku open data network 

    The aim of the Open data network is to make information as openly accessible as possible in Southwest Finland. Important goals of the network include building up the knowledge base of regional development and decision-making, supporting civil society and improving the preconditions for business. 

    At the centre of this network are Lounaistieto, the City of Turku and Turku Science Park Ltd, in addition to representatives of other local organisations. Everyone interested in the theme is welcome to join the network, including representatives of municipalities and other public administration actors as well as educational institutions and associations, entrepreneurs and application developers. The network promotes the use of spatial data and open data across a broad front. Read more about the open data network in Southwest Finland (in Finnish).

    KIRAHub – built environment innovation ecosystem

    KIRAHub (in Finnish) is a real estate and construction sector ecosystem with a vision of making Finland a pioneer in sustainable digitalisation of the built environment. KIRAHub collects and also develops platforms needed to accelerate sustainable digitalisation in the industry, including the Urban3 ecosystem space, international WDBE conference and KIRAHVI open discussion forum.

    Fairdata network

    The Fairdata network (in Finnish) promotes cooperation and information exchanges between the organisations using the Fairdata service package and CSC – IT Centre for Science Ltd. Fairdata services are provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture to facilitate the management of digital datasets. The Fairdata services enable the proper management, safe storage and discoverability of research data and the associated metadata. They are provided and maintained by CSC. Everyone interested in using and developing the Fairdata services is welcome to participate in the network. 

    Open and Agile Smart Cities network

    The International Open and Agile Smart Cities (OASC) network works to lay a foundation for data-based collaboration aiming to promote interoperable solutions, business innovation and the creation of smart services. This network established in 2015 includes cities in Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Spain and Brazil. The aim is that the cities can build services based on uniform APIs and data models selected on the basis of authentic user experiences.

    Authorities’ open network

    Authorities’ open network is a public Facebook group stemming from a desire to cross boundaries and reform public administration, turning it into an open and efficient enabler. The network is a meeting place for agents of change, a marketplace for data, a venue for exchanging ideas and a sparring ring for wild visions.

    TIEKE association

    Finnish Information Society Development Centre (TIEKE) is an independent, non-profit Finnish association with the mission of bringing information society stakeholders together to develop Finnish information society practices for the benefit of citizens and businesses. Its membership consists of both private companies and public and third sector organisations. TIEKE focuses on developing digital competence, promoting digital operating processes and Influencer-Networker-Accelerator activities. TIEKE organises network activities aiming to identify trends and digital societal development needs and to accelerate desirable development with a societal impact. 

    Rulebook template for data networks

    Rulebook for a Fair Data Economy (in Finnish, pdf) was produced in Sitra’s IHAN project to provide an easily accessible manual for establishing a data network and setting out the general terms and conditions of data sharing agreements. The Rulebook Template helps organisations to form new data networks, implement data network rulebooks, and promote the fair data economy in general. 

    Examples and support for developing ecosystems and organising hackathons

    As an example, you can find help for developing ecosystems and organising hackathons in the following sources:

    Parties that organise hackathons in Finland include Ultrahack and Junction.​​​

    Examples of open data events and ecosystems in Finland

    Open Finland -hackathon

    A national open data brainstorming competition was organised in Finland for several years to produce innovations that promote open society and to find solutions to challenges related to different themes. This competition produced several open data applications, including Miils recipe planning and sharing service and The Flow Towards Europe, which visualises the refugee crisis.

    Helsinki Digital Humanities Hackathon

    The University of Helsinki organises the annual Helsinki Digital Humanities Hackathon. This event has been organised since 2015. 

    Statistics Finland’s Datamenestyjät competition

    The Datamenestyjät competition (in Finnish) for parties using Statistics Finland’s datasets creates societal benefits by improving data literacy, promoting and developing open data use and developing the preconditions for knowledge-based decision-making in society. The competition seeks successful practical implementations based on data and the possibilities of using open data. 

    Fintraffic’s traffic data ecosystem

    Convened by Fintraffic, a large number of transport sector actors are building a data-based traffic ecosystem together. Its objectives include improving data interoperability through open interfaces. Collaboration between the actors aims for creating competitive and scalable transport and mobility services for both the domestic and international markets that enable safe, low-emission and user-centric travel and transport chains by combining different modes of transport.

    Read more about the traffic data ecosystem

    Goals, indicators and incentives

    This part describes how the goals, indicators and incentives related to opening data can be defined and realised.

    No official recommendations exist on these objectives, indicators and incentives.

    Organisations that have already opened their data have included their goals in the organisation's (for instance, agency’s or municipality’s) strategy, operating and financial plan or performance agreements. In addition to setting goals, indicators should also be identified for the goals, for example for the organisation at large or its separate units, to monitor and verify goal achievement.

    Examples of goal setting

    Organisations’ strategies

    In 2019, the City of Helsinki adopted a Data strategy, the goal of which is that the data produced by Helsinki will be the most usable and used data concerning a city by 2025. Among other things, the Data strategy aims to boost business and promote the tapping of external resources by sharing data.

    The goal is that, in addition to internal activities, an external ecosystem consisting of such actors as organisations, universities and companies could share and use data administrated by the City on a platform basis. External actors could conduct research and develop services which the city cannot offer, or where the offer is inadequate.  

    Agency performance targets

    The Finnish Environment Institute groups the impact targets set for the agency’s activities into five categories, and both indicators and target values have been specified for them. One of these categories is producing and promoting the use of environmental data, which is described as follows: "Environmental data is relevant to users, open, reliable and accessible. Data production is proactive. Operating models capitalising on new technologies also support public administration reforms and boost sustainable business models internationally.“ As the indicator has been specified the availability and accessibility of services and the change in electronic data service uptake compared to 2019.

    Annual reports are issued on the achievement of impact targets, and detail is added to strategic impact targets annually by means of a concrete strategy implementation plan. For more information, see the Finnish Environment Institute’s operational and financial plan for 2020–2023 (in Finnish, pdf), Finnish Environment Institute reports 27/2020.

    Performance agreements

    The performance agreement between the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency for 2020–2023 (in Finnish, pdf), which implements the Government Programme, defines as one of the goals that “the availability and interoperability of digital data have been improved and the MyData model has been used to accelerate the data economy”.

    Commitment to international FAIR principles

    Year 2016 saw the publication of the FAIR principles, compliance with which is subject to a European Council policy from 2016 and which is cited in the European Commission Communication “A European strategy for data (2020)” as a way of fostering data interoperability.

     The purpose of the FAIR principles is to make data 

    • Findable, 
    • Accessible, 
    • Interoperable, and 
    • Re-usable. 

    In Finland, the Ministry of Education and Culture is committed to the FAIR principles, and Fairdata services are being developed in line with them. 

    Various EU funding instruments also follow these principles (eligibility conditions). Guidance on the FAIR principles and other open science policies is also available on the Commission's Funding & Tender portal. 

    Indicators and incentives for opening data 

    Commissioned by the Ministry of Finance's Opening up and using public data project, Deloitte carried out a current status mapping in early 2021, in which it analysed the operating models and guidelines related to opening public data of several public sector organisations. The current status mapping shows that indicators and incentives are used very little to support the opening of data and, in general, in open data management. A summary of the background study for the current status mapping (in Finnish, pdf) is available on the Ministry of Finance’s website.

    The mapping only identified a single actor who had a publicly available indicator in place for monitoring the opening of data: the City of Oulu, which measures the number of open datasets. In reality, it may be expected that more indicators exist in internal use, but indicators and monitoring are clearly used too little to support the opening of data.
    In addition to measuring the opening of data, it is also possible to measure open data itself from several different perspectives.

    For more information, see the publication Introduction to opening information reserves (in Finnish, pdf), Ministry of Transport and Communications 2010.

    The key challenges associated with indicators and incentives are:

    • The difficulty of identifying clear and effective indicators
    • Rather than linking the indicators to measures, organisations see them as additional information
    • Open data is not linked to the organisation’s or employees’ goals
    • Opening of data is not associated with incentives or requirements for the organisation or its employees

    In the absence of incentives and requirements, the opening of data can quite easily be seen as an additional burden whose value for end users and, even more so, the organisation is difficult to measure. Many organisations rarely use the open data interfaces for their own purposes, and organisations do not necessarily even use the data to be opened themselves. This is why the opening of data does not create operational benefits for organisations.

    Incentives provided by Helsinki Region Infoshare

    HRI encourages the opening of data by communicating about its benefits and applications created based on it. In addition, HRI has for many years showcased the most interesting data initiatives and thanked persons who have been instrumental in opening data on a monthly basis (in its newsletter and on social media) and by means of a yearly award.

    For example:

    Organisation and resource allocations

    This part describes what the organisation should take into account when organising and allocating resources to the opening of data.

    The Information Management Board has issued a recommendation on fulfilling the management’s information management responsibilities (in Finnish, pdf), (Ministry of Finance publications 2020:18), according to which it is advisable to define these responsibilities in the rules of procedure, administrative or service regulations or similar, depending on the organisation. The information management model also serves as an internal regulation of the information management entity, which is why descriptions of responsibilities can also be included in it. Decisions on the responsibilities for information management are made by the authority or official who is competent in the information management entity to make decisions related to administration and organisation or to decide on the contents of the rules of procedure, administrative regulations, service regulations or similar.

    Under section 13 of the Public Information Management Act, the information management entity must monitor the state of information security in their operating environments and ensure the information security of their datasets and information systems throughout their life cycle. The information management entity shall determine the material risks to data processing and dimension the data security measures in accordance with the risk assessment. In connection with this task, the risks associated with opening and sharing data must be identified and assessed, and risk management measures must be implemented. The information management entity must approve the residual risks in writing.

    Key risks related to opening and sharing data include the possible use of shared data, or shared data and data obtained by combining it with other data, in a manner that is harmful or damaging to society, citizens or authorities, such as identity theft, blackmail or scams, or causes physical damage to society's infrastructure, such as the electricity or telecommunications network or transport networks and buildings. The organisation is advised to assign responsibility for risk management, information security and data protection related to the opening of data to one or more persons.

    Roles in the data opening process are often divided into four main ones: 

    • data producers
    • data administrators
    • data sharers 
    • data users

    The four main roles can be subdivided further (For more information see the publication Public data – Introduction to opening data repositories (in Finnish, pdf).

    The current status mapping completed by Deloitte and commissioned by the Ministry of Finance's Opening up and using data project in 2021 identified different approaches to defining roles in the context of open information. These roles may vary significantly between organisations, depending on their structure and the nature of the data to be opened. Read a summary of the current status mapping (in Finnish, pdf)

    An organisation should have a person/persons to whom responsibility for opening data is clearly assigned and who coordinate the opening of data in the organisation and provide advice if necessary. Not all organisations have specifically defined roles in their operating models. On the other hand, despite the identification of roles, the current status mapping exercise based on the publicly available documents struggled to determine how well the different roles have actually been implemented in organisations. For example, it is possible that no human resources have been allocated to the roles.

    The same observation mainly also applies to organisation structures. Some of the actors have defined the organisation structures associated with open data relatively clearly, while in others they are lacking completely. A good example of this is the City of Turku, in which the organisation is based on open and modular digital development.

    Based on Deloitte’s current status mapping, most organisations have opted for a decentralised organisation regarding open data, whereas partly centralised solutions are also in use. In the City of Espoo, for example, centralised support functions have been established for the administration of certain tasks (including data processing and risk assessment). The HRI service, on the other hand, is supported by the centralised Clearing house function in the City Executive Office of Helsinki, the purpose of which is to assist and coordinate the opening of data.

    Examples of the organisation of data opening processes

    Organisation of the data opening process in Helsinki Region Infoshare

    Two people work full time in Helsinki Region Infoshare’s (HRI) open data service for the cities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Their main tasks include helping those who open data in the cities, promoting data use, maintaining the hri.fi website and communicating about open data on different channels. In addition to the HRI service employees, many city employees participate in opening data in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area as part of their other tasks.

    The work of the HRI service is directed by a subregional steering group, which consists of representatives from the cities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The cities finance HRI’s work with amounts that are in proportion to their populations. In 2021, for example, HRI's budget (excluding payroll costs) was EUR 60,000. Opening data may not always require a large amount of work. Opening data in a file format that does not contain personal data can, at its easiest, take the work input of less than an hour.

    Hri.fi’s website template was developed in cooperation with the six largest cities in Finland in the Open data and interfaces key project of the 6Aika cooperation strategy. HRI is developing the website template further in cooperation with the cities of Tampere and Oulu as well as Lounaistieto. The template uses open source code.

    Organisation of the data opening process at the Finnish Meteorological Institute

    At the Finnish Meteorological Institute, tasks related to open data are part of the job descriptions of experts in different fields (including application development, datasets and communications). At the annual level, approximately three person-years are used on work associated with open data. The activities within the Institute are directed by an Open data steering group, in which all parties involved in handling the Institute's open data are represented. The steering group consists of 15 people representing management (heads of departments and units), data producers, application developers and communications.

    Process definition

    This part describes how the data opening process can be defined and realised in the organisation.

    No official recommendations exist for defining the data opening process.
    Organisations that have already opened their data have progressed in this process as follows: the data that could be opened is identified, the possibilities of sharing it and potential risks arising from opening the data are assessed, a decision is made to publish (or not to publish) the dataset, the dataset is published, the dataset is maintained and it is communicated about. 

    On a practical level, organisations have defined and carried out their data opening processes in different ways. The opening of data has, in various organisations, taken place as an internal process, or coherently in collaboration with other organisations. While a large proportion of the datasets that are shared openly have been defined and shared from an individual organisation’s starting points, data sharing is increasingly examined and defined in cooperation with other parties that administrate similar data.

    The opening of datasets should be thought of as a recurring and constantly evolving process. The process must address the entire life cycle from opening the data to preserving any historical data. As far as possible, it is advisable to start the process of opening the data with simple sets, later progressing to more extensive and complex datasets. The process should be created and developed openly in cooperation with stakeholders. Once the organisation has laid the foundations for opening data and generated the competence required for this, the data opening process may require less resources in the future. 

    In most cases, the opening of data starts with existing information systems, some of which may be quite old. Sharing data residing in old information systems can be difficult because the system was not designed for data sharing from the outset. When putting new information systems out to tender, upgrading systems or renewing contracts, the requirements of the Public Information Management Act and the Act on Public Procurement and Concession Contracts should be met, whereas accounting for the possibility of opening data and open interfaces is also important. For example, identifying and defining the ownership of the data contents in the information system or the API is crucial. 

    Information Management Board recommendation on the management’s responsibilities (in Finnish, pdf) (Ministry of Finance publications 2020:18) notes that in procurements, implementing the interoperability of information systems and information reserves as well as opening of technical interfaces should be ensured, at least in situations where this is required under the Public Information Management Act. The API principles provide useful support for defining or developing an API.

    Examples of organisation-specific process descriptions for opening data

    City of Espoo 

    The City of Espoo has produced an operating model for ensuring data protection and information security when opening data (in Finnish, pdf) to support the formulation and development of consistent practices for publishing data. 

    City of Turku

    Helsinki Region Infoshare

    The common Helsinki Region Infoshare service of the cities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area has produced a description of the data opening process with practical instructions. Read more on the HRI website: 

    The Finnish Environment Institute

    The Finnish Environment Institute has made a decision to use open data licence CC BY 4.0 when sharing open data. The Institute additionally has a research data policy that aims to support the openness and impact of research data. 

    See the Figure below for an overview of the stages of opening data at the Finnish Environment Institute. The initiative to open a dataset usually comes from its producer or the person responsible for it. Before opening the dataset, any restrictions related to sharing it are examined (personal data, secret data or classified information). If there are no restrictions to prevent the opening, or the dataset can be opened after generalising or reducing the data, a decision to publish the dataset as open data can be made. Sharing the data may also involve obligations arising from directives (including the INSPIRE Directive), which must be observed. 

    As the decision to open the dataset is made, the responsibilities and schedules related to sharing it are agreed upon, while also taking into account the need to maintain the dataset and its metadata in the future. In addition, the data content and structure of the dataset to be opened are determined, converting the dataset into a data product while also addressing user needs and any obligations associated with the dataset. The metadata for the dataset is drawn up before the data is opened. Open datasets and interfaces are published on the Finnish Environment Institute's open data website and the metadata on the Institute’s metadata service. The metadata of the open datasets are also transferred to the opendata.fi service, and the metadata of spatial data within the scope of the INSPIRE Directive are transferred to the National Land Survey's Paikkatietohakemisto through an interface.

    Examples of joint data opening processes

    Municipalities’ financial information

    Since 2021, municipalities and joint municipal authorities have reported their financial information to the State Treasury. They can submit their reports to the local government financial information service as XBRL or CSV attachments or by using Suomi.fi Data Exchange Layer. A separate Excel data entry application can be used to generate data in XBRL format, which is a temporary solution for reporting. In the local government financial information service, municipalities and joint municipal authorities can report, approve and view their financial information. The transition to reporting and publishing the data in a specific format creates an opportunity to, once it has been reported, put the financial information to new, system-independent uses.

    The financial information reported to the local government information service is published through an open interface as well as on the Exploreadministration.fi service once the municipality or joint municipal authority has approved the data it has reported in the service. Some of the cost data to be reported concerns only a few municipal residents. Examples of this include the cost data of a certain health service in a small municipality. The State Treasury aggregates cost data of this type and publishes it at a higher level.

    The transition to automated financial reporting also supports other automation of financial administration in municipalities and joint municipal authorities, including e-invoices, e-receipts or accounting specifications. Read more about the reporting of financial information (in Finnish)

    Municipalities’ purchase invoice data

    The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities has prepared guidelines for municipalities and joint municipal authorities for publishing their purchase invoice data as open data. Municipalities open this data on a voluntary basis, as they are under no legal obligation to do so. Opening the data may be useful, however, as it promotes the municipality’s transparency, strengthening democracy and supporting a cost-conscious approach. Opening purchase invoice data residing in the municipality’s financial administration systems in a format that is more easily usable and accessible to anyone can also help in the planning and management of the municipality's activities. Many municipalities of different sizes have opened their purchase invoice data, including the City of Helsinki, City of Hämeenlinna, City of Kauniainen and City of Valkeakoski. Read instructions for opening purchase invoice data (in Finnish).

    National Suomi.fi Finnish Service Catalogue 

    In Suomi.fi Finnish Service Catalogue, organisations providing services for citizens and other organisations maintain uniform information on their services and the service channels associated with them. More than 4,000 people in around 700 organisations, mainly in local and central government but also to an increasing extent in companies and organisations, produce data for the Finnish Service Catalogue.
    The information in the Finnish Service Catalogue is available as open data free of charge. The benefits include the fact that the information concerning the services described in the Finnish Service Catalogue is in a harmonised format and easily reusable in third-party services.

    The Finnish Service Catalogue open data can be found on opendata.fi.

    Service catalogue of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area

    The cities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area have a joint Service Point Register and Service Map, which contain a large volume of data on different services of the cities, their locations and opening hours and similar.

    Through the branch register interface used to produce the Service Map, parties outside the cities can also access and use the data through both a REST and WFS interface. The information for the service is produced by the municipalities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, and the information collection is coordinated at City Executive Office, from where it is transferred to the Finnish Service Catalogue content through an interface. In addition, open source code is used in the Service Map, for example allowing other cities to set up corresponding services. This makes it possible to open data from a wider area in a harmonised format. Read more about the Service Map in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and City of Turku's Service Map. The latter originated as an open source application created by the City of Helsinki, and it is being developed collaboratively.

    Competence development

    This part describes why and how competence related to opening data should be built up and developed.

    Under section 4, subsection 2 of the Information Management Act, the information management entity's management body shall ensure that the entity has up-to-date instructions for the processing of datasets, the use of information systems, the data processing rights, the implementation of the information management responsibilities and for the rights of access to information, data security measures and preparedness for exceptional circumstances. The management body determines how the instructions are kept up to date and which actors are responsible for ensuring that they are up to date.

    The management body must also make sure that the entity has training available to ensure that the personnel and those acting on behalf of the information management entity have adequate knowledge of the provisions, regulations and instructions of the information management entity in force relating to information management, data processing and publicity and secrecy of documents.

    The Information Management Board has issued a recommendation on fulfilling the management’s responsibilities in information management (in Finnish, pdf) (Ministry of Finance publications 2020:18), according to which it is advisable to assign responsibility for keeping the instructions up to date to the actors who have overall responsibility for information security, information systems, information resources, controlling registers, decision-making related to document access requests, case management and archiving.

    It is important for an organisation planning to open its data to ensure that the individuals participating in this process in the organisation have sufficient understanding and competence related to the stages and responsibilities associated with opening data and, in particular, the information security and data protection risks of this process. This makes it possible to ensure that the data can be opened securely, user-centrically, consistently and also resource-efficiently. Competence related to the opening of data may also be outsourced, but it is important that the organisation has sufficient competence internally, as the sharing of data is basically a continuous operating method, not a one-off event.

    Chapter 4, Ensuring data protection, describes data protection and information security guidelines which may be helpful when considering if opening a certain dataset is possible in general.

    Training material for opening data

    Training on opening data

    Competence in opening data can be developed by participating in training, which is available online or at physical events. 
    In central government, such actors as Statistics Finland have organised training on opening data from time to time, but there currently are no regular training activities. In the municipal sector, the HRI service provides training for city employees in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Internationally, for example Open Data Institute offers training related to opening data.

    Open online training:

    Tiedon avaamisen osaamista voi kehittää osallistumalla koulutuksiin, joita on tarjolla verkossa tai läsnäolotilaisuuksina. 

    Valtionhallinnossa muun muassa Tilastokeskus on järjestänyt tiedon avaamiseen liittyviä koulutuksia aika ajoin, mutta säännöllistä koulutustoimintaa ei tällä hetkellä ole. Kuntapuolella HRI-palvelu kouluttaa pääkaupunkiseudun kaupunkien työntekijöitä. Kansainvälisesti avoimen datan koulutusta tarjoaa muun muassa Open Data Institute (englanniksi).


    Training for staff in Helsinki Metropolitan Area cities

    The HRI service organises training related to opening data for employees in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area cities regularly several times a year. The training covers such aspects as the basic concepts of open data, the process of opening data, HRI's activities and the organisation of opening data in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The purpose of the training is to raise awareness of the opening of data and the benefits of open data as well as to provide concrete instructions for opening data. More information and training materials (in Finnish).

    Course on opening municipalities’ purchase invoice data

    In autumn 2021, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities together with Open Knowledge Finland organised a mentored and guided development project for between five and ten selected municipalities interested in increasing the transparency of their financial information or developing their capabilities for opening data more extensively. Against a nominal fee, the participating municipalities received training, expert guidance and support for opening their purchase invoice data following instructions issued in 2021. 

    Article about the course on opening purchase invoice data (in Finnish)

    CSC’s Data Support Network

    The Data Support Network supports cooperation between CSC – IT Center for Science and data support staff in research organisations. The aim of the network is to establish an informal dialogue between data experts in different organisations, enabling peer support and low-threshold questions and answers.

    The Data Support Network's website contains a large volume of training material on sharing research datasets and CSC’s services in form of webinars, videos, PowerPoint presentations and similar.