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Helsinki conducts quick experiments to utilise artificial intelligence and software robotics – ideas for the experiments are derived from daily work

Helsinki wants to be the most digitalised city in the world. In order to achieve this goal, the city staff conduct, among other things, quick experiments to find out how artificial intelligence and software robotics could be utilised in city services and employees’ work.

The City of Helsinki develops internal innovations in its Experimentation Accelerator, which started its operations in autumn 2019. In December 2021, the city completed its third quick experiment campaign that tested nine ideas from city employees regarding the use of artificial intelligence and software robotics. In total, the Experimentation Accelerator has received approximately 80 experiment proposals from the city staff, 35 of which have made it to the experiment phase.
The aim of the experiment campaigns is to learn how artificial intelligence and software robotics could be used to improve city services, not to seek final solutions. The experiment campaigns last about three months.

“Increasing people’s digital skills and their ability to utilise the opportunities provided by digitalisation is an integral part of the renewal of the City of Helsinki and its service production. The experiment campaigns have inspired city staff to experiment with the opportunities of digitalisation in developing service experience and improving the productivity of their daily work. This also has to do with changing operational culture, as by learning from quick experiments we can hopefully avoid expensive and long projects that do not meet real needs,” says Mikko Rusama, Chief Digital Officer.

Automating routine tasks leads to smoother services and easier work

The starting point of the City of Helsinki digitalisation process is that the digitalisation of services is aimed to make the daily lives of Helsinki residents easier and help them reach services better than at the moment. The same applies to city employees: digitalisation will make their daily work easier by automating routine tasks.

This time, the topics of the city’s artificial intelligence and software robotics experiments were:

  • utilising artificial intelligence as a virtual walking tour guide
  • utilising a software robot in claiming state compensation and processing interpreting invoices
  • processing applications to the third grade and the related pupil admission
  • utilising artificial intelligence in the orientation of a new employee
  • timely production of vaccines and their delivery to vaccination points
  • utilising artificial intelligence in participatory budgeting for young people
  • utilising artificial intelligence in analysing the responses to the Kerrokantasi (‘Give your opinion’) service
  • utilising a software robot in calculating the value of city contracts
  • utilising a software robot in the automation of student and student welfare statistics

Each experiment received €10 000 funding for its implementation. The experiments are used to acquire learning that can be shared with the city organisation and anyone interested in the topic.

“The experiments provide us with valuable information about the practical functionality of the new technology. At the same time, we will learn a lot about how the city processes, operations and internal cooperation should be developed in order to make the most of the benefits of digitalisation,” says Project Manager Ville Meloni.

Several business partners have worked together with the city in the Experimentation Accelerator. This time, the experiment partners included Ai4Value, Altoros, Codemen, Digital Workforce, Gispositio, Lekab, Loihde Analytics, SAS and Q-Factory, supported by The City of Helsinki’s Department of Financial Management Services and Service Centre.

More information:

More information on the results of the artificial intelligence experiments is available on the website.

Explore the city’s AI register here. The register explains how the city currently utilises artificial intelligence.