Finland took a long bold leap

Spatial data is typically a requirement for different service products, rarely a service product in itself, such as a navigation service. By combining spatial data with other data, it is possible to produce a broad range of new services, such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and virtual reality services, to build a pollution spread model or to analyse optimal locations for social and healthcare services using population and public transport data.

The development of spatial data needs to be seen as part of customer- and service-driven societal development. In Finland, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government programme of 2015 selected the digital public service as one of its leading projects. The goal was to produce cross-governmental electronic services by changing operating processes using new technologies and, if required, lighter regulations. Having digital services requires much more than converting them into electronic format.

The Geospatial Platform Project is a development project aimed to build a shared geospatial platform for public organisations, providing shared specifications and services for data producers in the public sector, shared and harmonised data for all users and shared user services. The Geospatial Platform Project is based on material provided by different data producers. It is part of the spatial data ecosystem of the future. The first phase of the project will be completed in 2019.

The development of spatial data requires a shared view of the future. Even though there is no single correct overview, we need certain guidelines. The report on spatial data policy was also kickstarted by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Government Programme. Never before have parliamentary guidelines on the future of spatial data been made in Finland. Parliament unanimously accepted the report presented by the Government at the end of November 2018.

According to the report’s vision, Finland will have the most innovative and the safest spatial data ecosystem in the world. To make this vision come true, we need to take a number of actions to ensure the better availability of our address data, to build a shared geospatial platform for the security sector and to amend our legislation to safeguard development. The report steers development beyond the terms of government office holders.

The quality of data has always been a key requirement in terms of spatial data – be it the integrity of data, or its accuracy or coverage. Even though more spatial data is continuously being created, we already have massive amounts of still relevant data in our registers. We need to be concerned over the quality and usability of this data, since replacing this data with new data is not financially or functionally feasible. Let’s stay reasonable.

 

Arvo Kokkonen

Arvo Kokkonen,
Director-general of the National Land Survey of Finland

 

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