Finland to launch single access online platform for public and private services

By on 26/05/2015
Martti Hetemäki, Head of Finland's Ministry of Finance in discussion at the Global Government Summit, Singapore, April 2015

An online platform, which will act as a single point of access for citizens to both public and private services, will be launched in Finland later this year.

The Finnish government already offers a single access point to all public services on Suomi.fi where citizens can log in with their credentials once and access a range of services including applying for benefits, submitting tax returns or accessing health prescriptions.

But since 2013, the Finnish government has been working with Estonia to develop a system that incorporates even more as part of a €120m project led by the Finnish finance ministry.

The end result – the Service View – which is expected to go live this autumn and be fully implemented by the end of 2016, will give people access to public services, as well as those provided by private companies, such as banking.

Citizens will be able to log in with their credentials just once to enter the platform, “using the same secure identification,” Martti Hetemäki, head of the Ministry of Finance in Finland, told Global Government Forum in an exclusive interview.

Estonia already runs a comparable portal, Hetemäki said, and to launch the Finnish version, the government is using the same software used in Estonia to enable different computer systems to communicate with each other.

The software is called X-Road (see also our interview with Heiki Loot, state secretary to the Estonian government), and in December 2013, Estonia granted Finland the X-Road source code, when the two nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

A briefing paper by the Finnish finance ministry says that Service View will “in the longer run, aim … to create prototypes for improved user-centric service processes”, and “import as much data as possible and show relevant services in the same interface.”

For example, the paper says, “when I see my vehicle data, I get links to public services that have to do with privately owned vehicles.”

It also says that “it will mandatory that all registered e-identification service providers must ‘trust’ each other and are obliged by law to exchange identification information with each other.

“As a result electronic services requiring e-identification for user authentication need only make one contract with one of the e-identification service providers.”

Hetemäki said that ICT and further digitisation is “absolutely key” to keeping up with an increasingly digital world and to revive Finland’s economy.

But, he added that “the important thing is to get things done in a way that services are used and people are happy to use them: that’s the real test for any digitalisation agenda, whether people actually use those services.”

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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