Chat in the city

Do you know, that it is estimated that by the year 2030 in Helsinki region every fifth inhabitant will speak other language than Finnish? Furthermore, nowadays in Vantaa there are already 22 000, whose mother tonque is other than finnish. The total number of people living in Vantaa last year 2012 was  203 001.  This means that we have now 9,9 % of population of Vantaa, who  have a foreign background.

It has to mentioned also, that by the year 2030 the prognosis is, that there will be 56 000 of whose mother tongue is other than Finnish in Vantaa.  Already nowadays significant part of these newcomers from abroad to Vantaa, are originally from Russian speaking countries and also from The Baltic countries.

What should the city of Vantaa do to their best to welcome these new citizens and taxpayers? The city of Vantaa has already arranged counseling for these customers with foreign backgrounds across municipal boundaries in Helsinki region. The cities of Vantaa, Helsinki, Espoo and Kauniainen has signed an cooperation agreement in December 2012 that they will in principle of reciprocity provide newcomers with counseling and advice concerning f.ex. municipal services, the Finnish service system, and other issues related to immigration. The city offices where this information is given to customers are in three Citizen offices of Vantaa in Tikkurila, Korso and Myyrmäki and at Virkainfo in city hall of Helsinki and city hall of Kauniainen. In Espoo, counseling is available at In Espoo- the service point in the Sello Library in Leppävaara and also at seven Citizen’s Offices of Espoo. The target groups are those, who just wonder whether to move to Vantaa and other Helsinki region from abroad and those already living here for shorter or for longer period.

Do we need to innovate a new way of providing information? Tradionationally, counceling is given the same way,  as in all other services, that are provided in Citizen’s Offices in Vantaa, face-to-face, by phone and by e-mail. But since January 2013 we have a two-year project called, Click-seutu, that main aim is provide a new channel- live chat- for customers to contact the advisor.  All four cities of Vantaa, Helsinki, Espoo and Kauniainen are again working for this together. The project is partly funded by cities themselves and partly from the European social fund. The cities partner in improving services for  immigrants with information are also the and Finnishcourses online services.

This is completely new way of work for advisors. But we, who work in this project, think that as chat is just one click away, it should become available for a contact channel for all other customers too. Chat is quick and easy way to contact each other, either advisors themselves between f.ex. Vantaa and Helsinki or for a the customer abroad who wish to know if he needs a visa to move to Finland, if he is from India. It is claimed in the literature that chat is too seldom used as means of customer service. At its best live chat can be a great supplement to other forms of traditional customer service. Of course, it has to be taken good care of  information security. The advisor should also be taught how to redirect the customer from chat to other way of communication if needed.

Some examples, where chat is already used in public administration, when contacting youth or giving advise to all age groups in common as done by social services department in Helsinki. And in service point in Oulu, called Oulu10, in Spring 2013 they are starting up chat service for customers.

In near future years to come, I hope, that every customer, either speaking foreign language or Finnish could be served also in chat in matters of city of Vantaa. Chat is just one more way to help a newcomer to get reliable correct information arrange his everyday life in new country and/or in new city and will hopefully also prevent segregation.

Would you like have chat in the city? And what kind questions you think could be handled by live chat?

Sources: > Julkaisut > Uutuuksia > Helsingin seudun vieraskielisen väestön ennuste vuosille 2013–2030

Kuka vastaa? Asiakaspalvelu sosiaalisessa mediassa. Katleena Kortesuo&Liisa-Maria Patjas.Infor Oy,2011

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5 Responses to Chat in the city

  1. minnakulo says:

    Hi Sari! Nicely written post. I think this is a good and modern innovation 🙂

  2. mikatuppurainen says:

    I think it’s a really good idea. We are having more and more open networks (WLANs) so you can get online practically anywhere and we have free use of computers in libraries etc. The security issues are important because of the nature of sensivity of certain issues.

    One point is also the marketing of the service so that people know about it and start to use it. Many good ideas and innovation in the public sector have gone under because they haven’t been properly marketed and sold to the users.

  3. inkeritaurula says:

    I got an idea. What I personally wish to have as an foreigner in a new country is to get to know the every day routines of the regular people. How about launching a website where Finnish people willing to meet foreigners could post things they are doing in the near future.
    “Sami: Going to inspect my car on Mon 25th April in Myyrmäki”
    “Krista: Doing grocery shopping for the weekend in Alppila S-Market on Fri 22nd March”
    “Tero: Going to KELA – The Social Insurance Institution of Finland to apply for student financial aid”
    The foreigner could check if something he/she is interested to learn about the Finnish society is going on near by and answer the post. A mobile application would come in handy, wouldn’t it. The Finn-Foreigner-Finn communication would happen in real-time. “I’m going for a 5 km run today at 6 pm.”

    I would be a regular user of this website. Bringing people together but no need to get too involved – just the way we Finns like it.

    • saripajala says:

      Thank you! First impression, I personally like this idea. Althought In public administration, it´s likely not going to happen…what if people start to give real advise for how to apply for a certain service of Kela based on their own experiences, that they think is correct but it is not. That could cause major financial difficulties to immigrants. And who is then to blame it for? -most likely the city behind the chat…

      I think in the internet even foreigners will meet the Finns quite easily, if they put a little effort to it. For example, there is a jolly good social event organisator in Helsinki region, like Jolly dragon! if interested, see more

  4. janneitolonen says:

    I like Inkeri`s idea very much. This could be very good service for foreigners who lives in Finland.

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