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Telia Finland is doing its bit to help combat coronavirus

The Finnish branch of Telia is supporting government policy making with real-time, but anonymised, user movement data and helping SMEs with ad minutes giveaways.

To prevent government policies becoming knee-jerk reactions, precise data is critical. In countries where the population takes privacy rights seriously, there needs to be a fine balance between what the government should know and what should be kept out of its reach.

Telia Finland recently announced it is providing the Finnish government with anonymised data of user movement between cities and regions. The government can evaluate the effectiveness of its policies as well as use the data as basis for new measures to contain and supress the spread of the coronavirus.

Called ‘Telia Crowd Insights’, the data is drawn from Telia’s network, then anonymised and analysed on an aggregated basis. Theoretically, data cannot be traced back to individual customers.

“We collect the information from a large geographical area, which makes it impossible to identify individuals. After this, the fully anonymized and aggregated data can be expanded into views with which decision-makers can draw accurate conclusions on the movements of the masses from,” said Petri Seppänen, Head of Business Development at Telia.

“With our service, we can contribute to controlling the situation with the coronavirus and support authorities with knowledge-based management. We have rapidly tailored a report on top of our standard Crowd Insights product, specifically suitable for this exceptional situation,” Seppänen added. He also suggested that if the current initiative proves useful for the Finnish Government Telia may provide similar support to governments in other Nordic countries

Since the beginning of March, the Finnish government has adopted a phased approached to restraining social contact as a means to break the chain of virus spread. The Telia data will prove useful to test the effectiveness of the most recently policy to put under strict control the transport connection between Uusimaa, the region in south Finland where the capital area is located and where the COVID-19 cases are most concentrated, and the rest of the country.

So far Finland has coped better than her Nordic neighbours. The total number of 28 deaths, at the time of writing, puts the mortality rate per million population at 5, compared with 9 in Norway and 29 in Denmark, both of which have much stricter lockdowns in place for longer. The highest mortality rate per million population among the Nordic countries is seen in Sweden at 36.

Meanwhile it is apparent that the onslaught of COVID-19 and the government policies to lock down social life, has made the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) particularly vulnerable. This is bad news for countries like Finland where there are only a small number of big, multinational enterprises while over 90% of all the registered companies employ fewer than 10 people.

To help these small business survive, Telia Finland started giving away their national advertising space in Finland, including ad minutes on national television as well as ad space in big newspapers, social media, and online, which would be beyond the financial means of most of these small businesses. Telia aims to help 100 selected companies each week when the campaign is running, including local restaurants, car repair shops, craftsmen, and others. The campaign started in the last week of March.

“We believe that those who can help, should help. This situation affects us all. As a responsible company we want to do our part to ensure that businesses and people in Finland are able to get through this devastating situation,” said Jari Rapo, Vice President and the Head of Enterprise Business at Telia Finland. “As a big ICT and media corporation we have the possibility to offer our platforms and channels to those in need. Situations like this usually force businesses to cut costs from marketing and this is where we can offer our helping hand.”

Telia is calling on other big enterprises to join them in the endeavour to help save the SMEs in the biggest crisis the country’s economy has seen since the early 1990s, when Finland’s biggest trading partner, the Soviet Union, collapsed.

“We try to help as many companies as possible but we cannot do this alone. We believe that by working together and leading with an example we can help hundreds of small businesses stay afloat,” said Kaisa Pajari, Senior Communications Advisor of Enterprise Business at Telia Finland. “This is why we invite other big companies to join our cause by offering their expertise and platforms to those in need. It is not only Finland where small businesses are affected and we hope our example leads to a global movement. Big companies for example offer their advertising space or digital services.”


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