Helsinki and the World Economic Forum highlight new initiatives for the ethical and human-centric use of data

Since Helsinki is the largest city and the largest employer in Finland, many people living in Finland have some kind of relationship with Helsinki, also in the form of data. In September, the City of Helsinki, in cooperation with the World Economic Forum, presented a white paper review article describing a new way of approaching and understanding the relationships that exist between people and the parties handling their data. The title of the publication is Empowered Data Societies: A Human-Centric Approach to Data Relationships. (link to the publication)

The human-centric use of data is one of the cornerstones of the City of Helsinki’s ambitious data strategy. Helsinki approved the data strategy in the summer of 2020. Utilising data in a human-centric way means that Helsinki aims to utilise data and analytics more effectively to provide city residents with personalised and targeted services proactively when they need them and on their own terms.

Reflection on trust relationships that are formed in connection with the use of data

The first section of the review article Empowered Data Societies: A Human-Centric Approach to Data Relationships by Helsinki and the World Economic Forum contains high-level discussion on the trust relationships that are formed in connection with the use of data, why healthy trust relationships are a critical prerequisite to flourishing data ecosystems and how these healthy trust relationships can be created and nurtured.

The second section proposes a new methodological approach to comprehensively understanding the junctions between data and people’s life situations and presents how this approach can be used to identify where human-centric measures to empower city residents become possible.

The third section examines proactive public sector services in particular and brings together aspects that must be taken into consideration when using data and artificial intelligence to anticipate and respond to service needs without the need for a separate human request.

The final section presents practical tools developed in Helsinki for the practical implementation of the concepts discussed in the previous sections.

“The human-centric utilisation of data enables proactive and seamless services for city residents. A person can have more influence on how their data is used. The cooperation with WEF strengthens the pioneering role of the City of Helsinki in promoting human-centric data and services,” says Mikko Rusama, Chief Digital Officer at the City of Helsinki, who was a member of the publication’s assessment team.

Experts from all over the world participated in the publication in various ways

Almost 40 experts from all over the world and all sectors of society participated in the publication in various ways.

“It was wonderful to see how the human-centric values of Helsinki and Finland were echoed in all parts of the world and in all sectors of society. Now there is a clear hunger for a new paradigm for the ethically sustainable utilisation of data, in which people themselves are the main focus,” says Viivi Lähteenoja, one of the authors of the publication, Special Advisor at the City of Helsinki and the Finnish Fellow in the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) network.

Empowered Data Societies: A Human-Centric Approach to Data Relationships was published at the World Economic Forum on 8 September. The principles of a human-centric approach to the utilisation of data were presented earlier this year in the publication On the Importance of Human-Centricity and Data (link to the publication).