Statistics Finland's key objective is to respond in a flexible manner to changes in the information needs of data users and in society with a production and service system implemented in an appropriate and efficient way. This is facilitated by integrating the production of products and services as closely as possible with the production of statistics, by continuous interaction with data users as well as by modern production solutions.
The year 2011 saw the commencement of work on defining revisions and renewals of operating modes. Products and services as a whole were examined in a comprehensive manner.
Development outlines were drawn up and renewal measures were initiated for publishing activities, web services and assignment services. Services for researchers were developed further according to plans.
Charged service activities supplement the basic production of statistics and respond to specific needs of information users. Income from charged activities increasingly comes from diverse tailored assignments and expert services.
The supply of free-of-charge data particularly on the web has been increased systematically for several years. Statistics Finland's StatFin database was enlarged again, and now the service contains over 1,500 multi-dimensional tables and data from almost 200 sets of statistics. Included are also data produced by organisations other than Statistics Finland. In addition to StatFin, several special databases are maintained.
The availability of publications in pdf format via the web was also widened. According to a decision made during the year under review, nearly all publications released in 2012 will be made available free of charge on the web.
Indicator services, in particular, as well as other services that combine, analyse and compile statistical data, aim to produce solutions for updating the services direct from the databases. Applications built into databases produce content, that is, statistical graphics, tables and text, for other online sections. This reduces the need for separate updates and speeds the updating of data in different services.
A concrete example of this is the Findicator service, which was jointly built by Statistics Finland and the Prime Minister's Office. The project on making the Findicator multilingual was started last year and completed in spring 2012.
Corresponding solutions have been adopted in other services as well. Examples of these are the Finland in comparison service and the thematic pages on population census.
Apart from the home pages of the statistics, the most popular web service entities were the websites on international statistics and the Regional and geographic information services website. As in the previous years, the best-selling printed publications were the Statistical Yearbook of Finland, the Tieto&trendit (Information and Trends) periodical focusing on economic and social issues, and the Finnish-language regional reviews.
In 2011, a thorough analysis was made of the agency's publishing activity and the publishing outlines were drafted for the coming years. The aim is to centralise fast data on economic trends and indicators more and more into the web and databases. The number of topical articles on the web will also be increased. Publications that combine, explain and analyse statistics will in future be primarily produced as conventional printed volumes.
An example of fast production of analytic articles is the thematic pages on population census opened in 2011, to which content will be produced between 2011 and 2013 as the results of the population census become complete. Statistics eXplorer, the new visualisation tool introduced on the population census site, enables interactive, dynamic browsing of data and their presentation on a map and as charts. The same tool was also utilised for the election map service presenting the results of the Parliamentary and Presidential elections.
"The significance of data visualisation is growing clearly, and new tools give good opportunities for it. At the same time, combining, analysing and explaining of data are needed to counterbalance the flow of information that is becoming more and more fragmentary," says Heli Mikkelä.
Over the reviewed year, approximately 11,000 enquires were answered via email, by telephone and through social media. Some of these concerned data produced by Eurostat; Statistics Finland was still the national support and service point for Eurostat's statistics.
A decision was made in 2011 to open a new service point for Statistics Finland on the Kaisaniemi premises of the University of Helsinki Library. The collections and data sources will be retained at Statistics Finland. Information services were also developed by testing the use of social media in answering information service queries.
The national Statistical Literacy Competition for schoolchildren was organised last year in co-operation with the Finnish Association of Teachers in Mathematics, Physics and Informatics. The Competition consisted of posters or data tables made by student groups. The best-rated posters of the groups were sent to the international final held in connection with the World Congress of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), where Finnish young people were again awarded.
"Statistics are a major instrument for describing society. It would be important for all Finns to have sufficient ability to understand and interpret statistical data. One effective way to support the development of these skills is to collaborate with teachers and schools," says Heli Mikkelä.
Improvement of services for researchers has been one of Statistics Finland's strategic projects in recent years.
"The aim is that researchers would in future have access to data primarily through remote use. The new remote access system enables effective and data secure distribution and control of data," says Leena Storgårds.
The remote access system was widened last year. The system is used in nine organisations and for around 40 projects.
The microsimulation method with its calculation models is an important tool for the drafting of taxation and social security legislation, for evaluation of the budgetary and income distribution effects of these systems, and for monitoring the realisation of the intended effects. It can be utilised to analyse the impact of amendments in legislation on households' disposable income, for instance.
The objective of the microsimulation project that was started in June is to construct a completely new microsimulation model that is more advanced and open than the present ones and at the same time centralise the updating work of diverse bodies into Statistics Finland. The model is being developed in close co-operation with the Social Insurance Institution.