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Current issues about international cooperation on ICT

This page presents news summaries concerning international cooperation in matters of electronic/digital administration. It also includes information on EU funding applications for joint digital projects.

From e to d to AI: ICA Conference in Helsinki (September 2018)

How is the digital revolution shaping government administration and what will the revolutionising AI era bring with it? These are among the questions that were being asked at the ICA Conference arranged by the Ministry of Finance in Helsinki on 3–6 September. The ICA Conference brought together almost 100 governmental information officers (CIOs), researchers and experts from around the world.

The ICA (International Council for IT in Government Administration) is a network of CIOs and other IT experts from 26 countries and international organisations which holds annual conferences with its respective host countries around the world. The conference has been held in Finland twice before, with a two decade interval each time: 1978 and 1998. This year was the 52nd conference and was bigger than ever, with a record number of delegates due to there being two new member countries and a joint programme with the World Bank.

Collaboration heralds a new era

The conference programme featured many different speakers and collaborative presentations and covered the subjects of information policy, AI, ethics of AI, and the future of government administration.

“Our strength is cooperation and we are really keen on learning from other countries.” Although referring to Finland’s public administration in her opening address to the conference, State Secretary Paula Lehtomäki’s words also apply well to the activities of the ICA as a whole. The ICA and its annual conference provide an arena for interactive exchange of experiences, advice and ideas, for sharing information on progress in member countries and for reviewing future outlooks.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Professor Christian Guttmann, whose theme was the fourth industrial revolution being ushered in by AI, explained that the challenge for AI applications in government administration is broadly similar to that faced by businesses: how to reject existing practices and replace them with something new. With the rapid progress of new technologies, it is vital to agree at international level on common ethical principles and standards for AI applications.

In the land of extremes, we need to move fast!

Besides having a packed programme and getting to experience the signs of autumn in Helsinki, the conference participants had time to see something of the digital revolution in Finnish society and to take a look at some experimental schemes based on new technology. In the final day’s demo sessions, seven actual projects and pilots were presented to the conference visitors. These ranged from the Incomes Register to a virtual hospital and were all schemes for addressing future changes in Finnish society. To set the mood we ran a video made jointly with Business Finland, accompanied by the sounds of metal music, of course.  

Take a look at the video for yourself, and share it too!

Speed is essential - Digitalising Society

More information on the ICA: https://www.ica-it.org/

Juhani Korhonen, a Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Finance’s Public Sector ICT department, was appointed ICA Chair at this year’s ICA Conference. Previously Vice-Chair, Korhonen is the second Finnish chair in the ICA’s history, his Finnish predecessor being Ilmari Pietarinen, who was Chair in 1980–1983. Finland has been an active participant in the ICA ever since its founding in 1968.

Digital Economy and Society Index: Finland has EU's best digital public services (22 May, 2018)

In the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI 2018) published by the European Union, Finland ranks top in the section on digital public services. Finland is also among the top three in the overall index. The index compares all 28 EU Member States across five different subject areas.

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Report: Putting clients centre stage in public services (7 November, 2017)

The ‘Public services – International comparison’ report shows that e-services in Finland have been developed and deployed to a level that is good relative to other EU countries. Of the comparison countries, especially Denmark and Sweden provide many useful examples that could be used to develop  digital services domestically. The experiences in developing digital services in Norway, Estonia and the Netherlands are also useful cases that Finland could utilise.

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Digital transformation of public administrations in Europe moving towards same direction – digital services for all as an objective (6 October, 2017)

The ministers of the EU and EFTA countries responsible for digitalisation signed a Declaration on eGovernment in Tallinn on 6 October. The declaration aims to ensure that measures taken to promote the digitalisation of public administrations follow the same direction throughout Europe and pursue the joint objectives. The declaration emphasises the rights of citizens and businesses to access digital services.

The public administration is being systematically digitalised in Finland as in many other European countries. The objectives set in the declaration pull the objectives of Finland and other European countries in the same direction. The purpose is to involve citizens and businesses more closely in the development of digital services.

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More efficient co-operation on digitalisation (22 June, 2017)

Nordic and Nordic-Baltic co-operation must leverage the potential of digitalisation more efficiently. Far-reaching and flexible co-operation and the sharing of experiences on the digital transition benefits citizens, businesses, and the region’s public administration. At their meeting in Sommarøy in Norway on 22 June, the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation made the decision to establish a fixed-term council of ministers, MR-Digital, for the period 2018 to 2020. This temporary council of ministers has been tasked with leading and co-ordinating efforts relating to co-operation on digitalisation.

Read more on the Nordic Co-operation's website

Nordic and Baltic regions to co-operate on digitalisation (27 April, 2017)

The Nordic and Baltic ministers responsible for digitalisation met in April 2017. They adopted a declaration which forms the basis for co-operation between the Nordic and Baltic countries. The co-operation will promote the digitalisation of public services across national borders, the digitalisation of business, and the development of a single digital market in the region.

Read more on the Nordic Co-operation's website

Finland and Estonia set up a joint institute to develop X-Road technology (7 March, 2017)

Finland and Estonia enhance their cooperation by setting up the Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions. The agreement on this was signed on 7 March during the state visit of the President of Estonia, H.E. Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid and her spouse Mr. Georgi-Rene Maksimovski. The institute, to be placed in Estonia, operates in the form of an association governed by private law, and its mission is to develop the X-Road technology to be used in the Suomi.fi -palveluväylä digital service.

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