Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

We went local in Finland: "The Future is not planned nor prognosed; it is created"

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--- Posted by Timo Hallantie & Kristiina Pietikäinen, Members of the Going Local team for Finland

Our Going Local team went to Finland in October 20-21 to share views and debate on very specific DEA topics like eID, eInvoicing and interoperable eServices. It was a welcomed chance to refresh our contacts with ex-colleagues and current acquaintances in Finland. And for some of us this was the first time visit to the land of the first GSM phone call and several Nokias.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and Communications we had organised a Digital Agenda event at the prestigious Finlandia Hall. The topic chosen for the day was the interoperability of infrastructures needed of eServices. At the heart of this is obviously e-Identity and we heard several excellent presentations on pilots in this area and ideas how to move forward. It was clear though that not everyone agreed on all the details, e.g. should the eID or e-authentication be provided based on a central regulated approach or based on user-centric or service oriented. The practical evidence points that the latter is happening - check your wallet and count how many smart cards with eID you have! In any case what matters is to get an ecosystem running, no eID service can thrive, if there is no wide service and user base.

There was a lot of promise and opportunities in the air. According to Bo Harald Europe could save 250billion euro, if e-Invoicing was systematically used. It is time to act on this or as he said "The future is not planned nor prognosed - It is created". On the technology side GSM association announced that NFC services breakthrough is taking place this autumn as more and more services are being launched and the consumers are more and more equipped with the NFC enabled devices.

 

 

For sure we had something to tell too. The recently adopted Commission proposal on Connecting Europe Facility does look interesting from the Finnish point of view. The National Broadband target is to get by 2015 fast broadband (100Mbit/s) close to every citizen. But like in the rest of the Europe, the delivery is proving to be challenging in Finland too. The sparsely populated country with long distances does not make it easier. A profitable business case is yet to be found for laying the optic cable or even providing the satellite dish for every single grandmother living over tens of kilometres away from the village centre. The Connecting Europe Facility should be able to help here. Based on the several comments we heard during our visit, the Finns seem to welcome this novel funding vehicle for broadband delivery.

But the connections are only attractive if content is available. So we discussed with the content industry and right holders how to get the digital contents to the people regardless of channel,  device or location – including cross-border.  Finland forms a small market with strange language. The Finnish content providers are therefore quite protective and reluctant to the European wide harmonisation of the licensing regimes. Yet an interesting story was heard from the mobile game industry, which is now growing strong in Finland. They would love to use Finnish music in their games, but find it much easier to get rights to the American songs. Something to think about?

If you missed the event, note that all the presentations are available online ; you can also follow the DigitalAgenda on Twitter and use the hashtag #daelocal_fi

If you find the presentations interesting please do get in contact with the speakers. The slideshow can only give you small fraction of the ideas presented.

Oh, are you still wondering how come several Nokias? Well, there is the city of Nokia, the paper mill, the tyre company, the rubber boots and the one you know.