Better public services developed with focus and speed in Hackathon

Course helps towards the digitalisation of the public sector, formation of a culture of experimentation, and renewal of teaching methods.
The teams pitched several times their ideas to the client organisations.

In spring 2016, Aalto University is running a multi-disciplinary course together with the Tax Administration, the Population Register Centre, the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, and Accenture. As part of this course, the Hackathon event was held from 28 to 30 January in Otaniemi's Urban Mill.

'It was a wonderfully energising event. Rarely do students get to work so closely with experts. As well as the immediate feedback, they get to go through the whole range of emotions, from uncertainty to the joy of success', explained Professor of Practice Katariina Kemppainen from the School of Business's Department of Information and Service Economy.

While visiting the event, Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio reminded the students that the Hackathon can lead to profitable business activities, not just study credits.


Hackathon lets loose creativity and digital innovation


The organisations have challenged the students to develop solutions that make it easier to use their services and increase the use of internet and mobile services.

'Managing personal data doesn't necessarily sound very inspiring, but the automation of processes for keeping data up to date is anything but boring. We want to further develop these automation processes, and for this reason we are participating in this course', said Pekka Rehn from the Population Register Centre.

The Tax Administration's Chief Information Officer Markku Heikura explained that already over half of the Administration's customers use their online services, but in the future they want to make even more use of social media channels and chat-based advisory services. Their goal as a participant in the course is to obtain solutions in these areas.

'We're working in a team on the Tax Administration case. We've developed a totally new 'Tax for Dummies' Portal, in which we present real life cases and user stories in order to help all customers get free from the feelings of uncertainty associated with filling in forms. We want the use of to feel so effortless that the number of customer visits to the Tax Administration offices would decrease significantly', design student Martina Bonetti explained. In addition, Ms Bonetti described with excitement how the Hackathon design process started from zero, letting ideas take shape in a lively and inspiring environment, and then refining them to be better and better.

From the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa a total of three units took part: the Children's Hospital, the Medical Imaging Centre, and the hospital's Development unit.

'We hope to obtain development ideas from the students for areas such as the digitalisation of services for families with infants and a feedback process for improving the quality of referrals between primary health care and specialist health care', said Pekka Lahdenne, person-in-charge for the functional design of the new Children's Hospital.


Course continues with lectures and intensive group work


After the Hackathon, the more than 70 participating students, organised into international and multi-disciplinary teams, continue working on their ideas together with the client organisations. In addition, the course includes lectures and intensive group work to be carried out throughout the spring. In April, the teams will pitch their ideas to the judges. The three best ideas will be presented at the ValtioExpo on 17 May 2016.

'This is a splendid beginning to multi-disciplinary teaching cooperation. We will develop the idea for next year, and hopefully many Aalto colleagues will be inspired to participate in finding solutions to the challenges connected with citizens' user experiences. Thanks to our cooperative partners, the teachers don't need to worry about the practical arrangements for the course', Ms Kemppainen said with satisfaction.

In addition to Ms Kemppainen, the other School of Business staff involved in running course include the Department of Information and Service Economy's Senior University Lecturer Johanna Bragge and Professor of Practice Esko Penttinen, as well as teaching development expert Christa Uusi-Rauva. They as well acknowledge the contribution of both the trainers from the different government agencies and also the teams from Accenture and Fjord, with whom cooperation has been smooth and straightforward. Aalto University is open to any other similar proposals for cooperation.

Further information:
Project website:
Follow the Twitter conversation and have your say: #pshack16
Aalto University:

Katariina Kemppainen
Professor of Practice
+358 50 486 9858
[email protected]

Rita Mustonen
Project manager
+358 40 772 5715
[email protected]


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