Helsinki Officials Experiment with AI-powered City Services


In Helsinki, Finland, city employees are currently running tests to see if artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) enhance city services. The city launched a program in 2019 called the Experimentation Accelerator designed to investigate digital solutions for improving the city’s functionality. Recently, the Finish capital completed the second round of internal innovation trials which focused on 10 suggestions from employees to find ways AI and RPA can assist with common operations.

“The most important thing about these trials is to gain new ideas that can then be scaled to suit the production of various city services.” said Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki. “The trials also represent a shift in thinking whereby the aim is to make the city organisation’s operating culture more conducive to experimentation.”

The Experimentation Accelerator provides researchers with better insights to see if specific ideas are worth pursuing, instead of implementing ideas and waiting for results. Some of the trial suggestions from employees included employee shift planning, monitoring traffic emissions, checking student data across different registers, and using a chatbot for matters related to business trips. After 90 days of experimenting, the city then decides whether or not to follow through with the solution.

Mikko Rusama, Helsinki’s Chief Digital Officer, added, “Through agile trials, we can learn to understand how we can use artificial intelligence to build even better digital solutions for the residents and our own employees. We hope that the lessons learnt from these trials help us to avoid expensive and long projects that fail to meet actual needs.”

Permanent solutions approved from the trials are listed on Helsinki’s AI Register, which was launched in September to keep a transparent report of how the city is currently using AI. The register also provides information that details what information is being used, how the data is processed, and whether or not there is any human oversight.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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Editor, IoTevolutionworld

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