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Make a PSI request for re-use in Finland

A new chapter of our series of articles on how to make a request in the EU member states: the situation in Finland.

Legal framework

The prodrome of the opening of government information in Finland is dated 1999 when the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999) was promulgated. Furthermore, a separate Decree on the Openness of Government Activities and on Good Practice in Information Management provided guidelines for government officials working with information management and FOI issues.

However the development of an open policy received a boost in 2011 when the Finnish government announced a proposal for a decision on the availability of digital data in public administration that stated that the datasets must be openly available and reusable on unified, clear and equal terms, free of charge.
The first significant national datasets were opened in May 2012 when the National Land Survey opened its terrain data. In 2016, Decree of the Ministry of Finance (607/2016) on the provision of some common electronic support services for the administration established that an open information and interoperability web service should be created; shortly followed the publication of the national open data portal Avoindata.fi.

 

 A useful resource of the Avoindata.fi portal is the Open Data Guide, which contains instructions, tips and other hints to consider when applying data, whether you are a re-user, a data provider or a software developer.

 

Always in 2016, the government approved a proposal of the Ministry of Transport and Communications to increase the utilization of large data sets in business.

In 2017, at the Digital North conference, the ministers from the Nordic and Baltic regions signed a declaration to integrate their digitalization efforts in order to support the free movement of data and to put in place the EU digital single market in the Nordic-Baltic region.

In the meantime, another important initiative took place in the Helsinki Region: the Helsinki Region Infoshare (HRI) service, published in March 2011, which is a web portal for a fast and easy access to open data sources between the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. It also provides a form to make data requests; here you can find all the requests received since 2012.

As for the science data, the AVAA platform for publishing open research data deserves a mention.

In practice

Although there is no official centralized service to which re-use requests of data not yet publicly available can be addressed and apart from the above-mentioned HRI service, you can leverage several initiatives at city and region level.

 

The Oulu City Data Portal includes 83 downloadable datasets divided into 12 categories. and provides a form to send data requests.

Also the city of Tampere offers its portal: tampere.fi contains 114 datasets divided into the same categories as above and provides this form.

Both portals share the same appearance and functionality. As for the management of the data requests, they undertake, where possible, to have the requests delivered to the data owner.


Lounaistieto
is a regional information service regarding Southwest Finland with open datasets, statistics and a rich map service; there is no specific form for data requests but you can use the contact page to ask support.

The six cities behind DataBusiness.fi (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku and Oulu) are collectively opening their data resources as widely as possible to create a collaborative working environment for producers and utilisers of data. They offer free business and development services including education and training, academic collaboration etc. Use their contact page to ask support.

The avoindata.net platform is a question & answer website that you can use for your data requests (through this form). Although it might be similar other free services around Europe, like whatdotheyknow.com, fragdenstaat.de, Data.overheid.nl etc., it does not redirect your request to the public sector body concerned but you can anyway receive useful tips from the community.

As a general rule, to address a re-use request to a Finnish public sector body, it is worth to have a look at its website; sometimes you can download a module to be compiled and sent to the mail address indicated. An example here.

In the other cases, you have to create the request following the basic rules written in the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, Section 13, Requesting a document:
  - the request must clearly indicate which documents are needed.
  - The person requesting the information does not need to clarify his identity or justify his request unless this is necessary for the exercise of the discretionary power of the authority or to ascertain whether the applicant has the right to be informed of the content of the document.

Afterwards,  you can send the request directly to the public sector body or let PSI Monitor do it for you: register to psimonitor.eu, click on add your request and fill the form.

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