An Openness to Information
What is information? It is the golden tool that can change the way we see the world, introduce us to different realities, help us to organize each aspect of our lives and allow us to make decisions in a conscientious way.
Over time, possible information resources have increased. Today it is not only a question of “availability”, but also of “management and security” of information. One of the countries at the forefront is Finland, which has been able to stand out through the development of various innovative proposals in information.
Considering that the public sector has the greatest wealth of information at its disposal, the Finnish government has played a fundamental role in opening up its information resources. In this way, the Constitution of Finland specifies: “Documents and recordings held by the authorities are public, unless their publication has been specifically restricted by law for compelling reasons. Everyone has the right of access to public documents and recordings”. Undoubtedly, this has represented the awakening of people’s rights to free access to information; and, over time, it has evolved into what we now call Open Data. Part of the growth has required an active government position through different policies:
2) Structural Policy Programme 2013, which has as its main objective the removal of obstacles for the reuse of Finnish public data and to create the right conditions for open data in Public Administration. Ministries, government agencies, municipalities, companies, NGOs, various organisations and citizen bodies have participated in the implementation of the Open Data programme.
3) The Directive on teh Re-use of Public Sector Information, PSI Directive 2003, the Amendments 2013;
4) The Principles for Digitalization 2017. They are nine and basically deal with: providing services based on clients’ needs, reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and building services that are easy to use and safe.
Currently, Finland makes different information resources available to the public through open data such as meteorological, climatic, mobility, financial, statistical, among many others. Although the growth of Open Data has been underway for some time, the analysis of its effectiveness is still incipient, as the monitoring systems are just growing.
Acknowledgements for Helsinki
The innovative wave of Open Data in Finland has not only the State as a protagonist but also different sectors actively participate in the initiatives. There are interesting examples worth of special recognition in the capital city, Helsinki. In the last two years, the work of the open API MyHelsinki.fi and the Whim app has been remarkable.
On the one hand, MyHelsinki.fi has been recognized as one of the best sources in Open Data, due to the publication of orthophotography and for providing data representing the amount of solar radiation received by rooftops in Helsinki metropolitan area.
On the other hand, MaaS Global startup, through its Whim application, has become very popular. It allows its users to choose the fastest, most ecological and cheapest route to reach their destinations. The possibility of global information on routes and means of transport allows multimodal travel and payment of fares through the use of a mobile phone.
For cases like Finland, the design, evaluation and management of public policies can take great advantages of public information; resulting in a participatory and more efficient State for its citizens. It is clear that with the power of free access to information, we can not only make conscious choices about the quality of services, but we are also invited to be part of the new social growth.