WWe asked all the municipalities in Finland about the five top IT programs they use, the companies who provided them and the cost. What we found was that even though several attempts and even money provided by the government to get the municipalities to cooperate around IT solutions very few did. We could prove that many of the municipalities bought the same solutions from the same companies thus they argued that they had too different needs to cooperate with each other. In our visualisation we concentrated on the bilingual municipalities.
The results showed that the explanation that it is impossible for municipalities to co-invest in IT-solutions has more to do with will and politics than with different demands. We also showed that a lot of the municipalities did not fulfill the demands when it comes to accessibility and IT-security much because of lack of knowledge about what they should demand when they negotiate with IT providers. A lot of the times the municipalities were at the hand of the IT companies. The examples of the municipalities that did cooperate showed that much could be gained. The results have been referred to and were widely discussed within the media and the different municipality organisations.
Google forms for the FOIA-request, Spreadsheets and R for analysis, d3 and VueJS for the frontend code
What was the hardest part of this project?
In 2019 the Finnish government granted funds for municipalities who cooperate on IT-solutions. A lot of the municipalities did nor apply or did so haphazardly. Many said that it is impossible to use the same solutions because they have so unique demands. We sent out the request early 2020 but because of the coronavirus the project was put on ice until the fall. Forming the questionnere was a very difficult task because it meant we really had to know how these purchases were made how to ask for the information we wanted.
We are a small three-person datadesk who does all the datajournalism for Svenska Yle, also all the graphs about the spread of the coronavirus. The hardest part was to find the time to bring this project to an end amidst a pandemic and everyone working from home. That is why we decided to concentrate on only the bilingual municipalities, since that is our core audience.
What can others learn from this project?
A lot ot the time structured questionneres can provide open knowledge that cannot be found elsewhere. This information can be most useful whe wanting to investigate a particular subject. You have to be vary familiar with how data can be analyzed and in what form you should ask for the information before you go ahead.