Ministerial Adviser Juhani Korhonen:
Towards human-centred digital administration

Finansministeriet 23.9.2019 9.00 | Published in English on 7.10.2019 at 15.30
Column

Digitalisation is one of the key topics of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Our objective is to strengthen digitalisation in public administration to support European competitiveness and sustainable growth. In particular, we want to focus attention on human-centred digital administration.

The four meetings of working groups and experts arranged by the Ministry of Finance's Public Sector ICT Department will discuss digitalisation widely from different perspectives: how far have we progressed in digital administration and what could we do together to improve digital services? In addition, how to make data move seamlessly inside the EU and how could different operators make best use of the European data economy? We also aim to intensify cooperation between the data management directors of the Member States. Our objective is to strengthen European competitiveness in various ways to cope with the hardened competitive situation and keep up with the major powers of the east and west.

Human-centred approach gains emphasis in the administration of the digital age

In the Digital Government Conference, Finland will bring human-centred digital administration into discussion during Finland's Presidency. Human-centred thinking challenges administration to review its practices. It means that people's real needs are set as bases for action more strongly than before. The human-centred approach also means that all groups in society are kept in step with development. In an ideal situation, the development of digitalisation will leave no one behind.

Human-centred administration cannot be achieved by the administrative system alone. We need the help and cooperation of companies, non-governmental organisations and third-sector organisations throughout Europe.

Artificial intelligence is just a mute instrument without data

During Finland's Presidency, we want to promote the mobility of data, because there is no digitalisation without data. The utilisation of data is a prerequisite for better services – artificial intelligence and other new technologies would be just a mute instrument without data. Large available data masses are also a competitive factor.

The European data economy must be human-centred. Citizens, companies and all operators must feel that the use and utilisation of data have fair, ethical rules. Proposals for the ethical principles of data and new technologies have already been drawn up on the level of the European Union as well as in the Member States.

Are we prepared for information policy in Europe?

Promoting European information policy is one of our objectives during Finland's Presidency of the Council of the EU. Generally speaking, information policy means that the policies and principles defining the availability, accessibility, mobility and quality of information are compiled and coordinated from different sectors.

Although on the EU level, Finland is a frontrunner in information policy, it is very recent for Finland as well: the Government submitted a report on ethical information policy to Parliament at the end of 2018. Our aim is that Finland will also be able to set an example in information policy during its Presidency. 

Now it is time to have a say 

The principles of digitalisation and ethical and social questions have become part of wider discussion only in recent years. Over decades of utilisation of digitalisation, we now have a unique momentum – and Finland has a significant opportunity to exert influence.

After the end of Finland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union, we will assess how successful we were in meeting this challenge.

Read more: Finland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2019: digitalisation, data security and information policy

Juhani Korhonen

Ministerial Adviser