Report on Finnish Information Society Development

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Helsinki, 9 September, 2005 — Report on Finnish Information Society Development

The Information Society Council's publication, "Towards a Networked Finland", is available in pdf form. In the report the Council reviews the current information society development and ensuing challenges in Finland. It also outlines measures to address these challenges.

Information Society Council: Development of the Finnish information society scores high marks in international comparisons
The Information Society Council, chaired by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, published its first report on Tuesday 15 February. In the report, the Council's reviews the current information society development and ensuing challenges in Finland. It also outlines measures to address these challenges.

Indicators measuring education, research and product development show that Finland is among the most advanced countries in the world. Finland scores exceptionally high marks in school learning outcomes and investments in research and product development are high in international comparison.

Finland is one of the top countries as regards the use of electronic services in public administration. A European level comparison in the field of social welfare and health indicates that general practitioners use electronic patient records most often in Denmark (98%) and Finland (95%).

Wide use of ICT is everyday life. For instance, the number of Internet users is high on the international scale: 80 per cent of the Finnish population is familiar with the Internet and nearly half of these people use it every day.

Finnish people have good confidence in the use of Internet services. As much as 90 per cent of Internet users consider on-line bank services secure. The Finns' confidence even in instant payment and use of a credit card on the Internet is quite high in international comparison although not as high as in on-line bank services.

The Finnish innovation system is one of the best in industrialised countries and IT is widely used at work in Finland. According to an OECD survey, e.g., Finnish companies lead in the number of Internet connections, followed by Sweden and Denmark.

Benefits Available for the Entire Population

According to the report, the aim is to maintain the gained position and stay on the top of international information society development in the future, too. The aim is also to develop the information society on the basis of the Finnish model in order to make benefits of the information society available for companies and the whole population as widely as possible.

The report presents numerous concrete proposals to reach the objectives set for the future. Proposed measures to maintain and strengthen the lead in electronic business include adoption of the digital certificate for citizens on a larger scale and implementation of an intensive broadband strategy.

In the fields of telecommunications and digital television the following is proposed: promotion of a new Communications Market Act and proposals concerning the position of public broadcasting, amendment of the copyright legislation and adoption of general standards to ensure the compatibility of various systems.

Basic policy for working life emphasises strengthening of skills and innovation and better ways of turning these strengths into growth and improved rate of employment.

Reforms concerning the information society development within public administration include a more centralised steering system for State data administration and a more standardised model for production of services. Local authorities must increase cooperation in service production in order to achieve synergy benefits and to improve customer services.

Thanks to the Act on the piloting of a seamless service chain in social affairs and health, good results have been recorded, for example, in information management. Thus the piloting provision is to be turned into a permanent procedure. Customers' access to information will be improved by amending the Decree on patient documentation and provision of real-time information on the waiting lists for care.

In education and research, an equal input in all parts of the innovation system is proposed - from basic education to top research and productisation of new innovations. Development of information and communications technology in education must be continued and cooperation between public and private sectors strengthened.

As regards citizens' skills, training and guidance is emphasised as well as such a design of services that brings them available to as many citizens as possible. Citizen's ability to utilise the information society could be boosted by developing a network of information society interfaces.

A complete Package of Information

The first report of the Information Society Council analyses the current state of the information society and its challenges in seven areas. It discusses the development of our society from the viewpoints of the public and private sectors as well as organisations and individuals. Research and statistical data complement the text including indicators for monitoring the attainment of the Information Society Programme's impact objectives.

Three comment statements requested from actors operating outside the Information Society Council have been included in the report. Matti Lehti, President and CEO, discusses competitiveness of Finnish companies, Tarja Cronberg, Member of Parliament, reminds us of the importance of close relations in a virtual society and Teppo Turkki, research scholar, compares the development of the information society in Japan and the Republic of Korea with the developments in Finland.

The Information Society Council, chaired by Prime Minister Vanhanen, is a negotiation body for steering the development of the information society and for coordinating cooperation between administration, organisations and business life.

Further information:
Programme Director Katrina Harjuhahto-Madetoja
tel. +358 9 1602 2363

Program Coordinator Päivi Mutanen-Pirttilä
Prime Minister's Office
tel. +358 9 1602 3405

More information
http://www.vnk.fi/report.pdf