The cities of Turku and Espoo are starting to develop municipalities’ ability to implement utilisation of information and knowledge management securely. The goal is to create tools and operating models that are applicable to all municipalities and serve as support for municipalities in their digitalisation processes.

Cities have a growing interest and increasingly more opportunities to develop their services by utilising data. In previous projects, such as the ‘City as MyData Operator’ project, a large number of use cases have been identified where the effectiveness of services could be improved by utilising cities’ existing data in new way.  

At the moment, this potential often remains unutilised in municipalities, as their abilities in terms of data protection and information security are not yet at the level required by the implementation. At the same time, the changing and constantly specifying legislation challenges the municipalities’ ability to react proactively to the changes and opportunities brought along by digitalisation. 

Tools and operating models for various management levels

The Secure Information Project, a joint project by the cities of Turku and Espoo, will set out to build tools to support strategic, tactical and operational level management. The Ministry of Finance has granted almost €700,000 in funding for the project. The project will be divided into four project packages to be implemented in cooperation between Turku and Espoo. The project will continue throughout 2022 and end in March 2023. 

The project will be based on a study on the current state of legislation, conducted in cooperation with the University of Turku. In order to support management and development at the strategic level, Espoo will implement as subproject the framework for utilising information safely. At a later stage of the project, an operating model for using information securely will be created for tactical and operational level as well as a guide, and these will be validated using selected case examples. 

Using information securely will be reflected in the lives of city residents as functional services 

A municipality’s level of data security is usually not visible in the daily lives of its residents. People only become concerned about information security if it fails. For example, successful cyber attacks and information leaks can cause major disruptions in services and compromise the privacy of local residents. Maintaining a healthy level of information security and data protection requires anticipation, risk management and preparedness from the municipality. However, these measures should not be reflected in slow data management processes, complicated technologies or inability to experiment and develop new innovations. 

By improving the level of information security and data protection and data utilisation processes, cities will be better equipped to organise customer-oriented and effective services. By utilising customer information in a new way, services can, for example, be personalised to better suit customers’ individual needs. Service processes will also become more agile and information will flow more smoothly across sectoral and organisational boundaries. For city residents, this will be reflected in high-quality services that run smoothly. 

Development work enables the emergence of new business models

In the longer term, the cities’ functional data protection and information security practices not only enable the development of the city’s own operations, but also the emergence of new business models for companies that utilise data. The goal of the cities is to support the formation of a data ecosystem that operates responsibly and ethically while creating new vitality. 

The project outputs will be created to support the knowledge management of all municipalities. In order to identify needs and share lessons learned, Turku and Espoo welcome interested municipalities and other public sector stakeholders to participate in the Secure Data project workshops. The workshops and lessons learnt will be communicated on the websites of the cities of Turku and Espoo once the schedule is further specified in 2022.