Finnish administration to boost distance services

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Video-conferencing and other teleservices can bring public administration closer to the citizen, save time and reduce travel’s carbon footprint, argues a recommendation addressed to Finland’s public administration.

The use of video-conferencing will complement face-to-face communication, phoning and other electronic service delivery, notes the recommendation issued by a body that advises the Finnish public administration on on information management issues, JUHTA. 

Video-conferencing is expected to improve the quality of “distance services” and help make them one of the main ways of public service delivery in the country. The recommendation aims to boost confidence in the quality, functioning and information security of distance services.

The document lays out guidelines for procurement, technology, data security and protection regarding distance services, as well as for the quality of acoustics and image. The guidance not only conerns video-conferencing as such, but also distant translating and provision of general and expert public services to citizens, including health care.

The recommendation follows a June 2008 report on a ‘Model for new public services’ in Finland, which recommended the establishment of specific municipality-run offices regrouping different general and expert public services “under the same roof”. 

Use of video-conferencing by local authorities is made possible by the revised Finnish Local Government Act, which entered into force at the beginning of the year. 

While saving time and costs, the recommendation notes that ecology is also an important argument for the use of video-conferencing, because it reduces the carbon footprint of travel.

A recent report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) argued that soaring transport demand, partly as a result of business travel, is hampering the development of a low-carbon economy, and called for political action to address the issue (EURACTIV 06/01/09).

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