DNA examined the level of digitalisation in Nordic municipalities — Finland has a way to go when compared to its Nordic neighbours


DNA examined Nordic municipalities’ capacity to launch and deploy new digital services in the era of 5G connections. In a comparison of 60 municipalities, the Danish town Aalborg was the most digitally advanced of the compared locations. Tampere was the only Finnish municipality to reach the top 10, while Oulu and Helsinki reached the top 20.

DNA examined Nordic municipalities’ capacity to launch and deploy new digital services in the era of 5G connections.
DNA examined Nordic municipalities’ capacity to launch and deploy new digital services in the era of 5G connections.

The Nordic Digital Municipality Index examined how well 60 different municipalities in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway have positioned themselves for the digital revolution. A total of 15 municipalities were surveyed in each country, including five large (> 50,000 inhabitants), five medium-sized (20,000–50,000 inhabitants) and five small (< 20 000 inhabitants) ones. DNA carried out the study in cooperation with its parent company Telenor and research company Analysys Mason.

The study shows, among other things, how the municipalities utilise infrastructure to enable digital services and smart cities. The results show clear differences between the various municipalities, even though Nordic countries are digital pioneers on a global level. According to the European Commission’s DESI index, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway are the four leading countries of digitalisation in Europe, so the Nordic municipalities’ baseline is high when compared to the rest of Europe.

Denmark and Norway in the lead — clear differences between the capitals

The star of the study, Aalborg, reached the top of the index with a clear margin as the scoring dispersion between the extremes was from 2.7 to 8.3. Even though Denmark beat the other Nordic municipalities in the comparison, when examining the differences between the countries, Norway had the highest number of municipalities (five) in the top ten. Compared to Finnish municipalities, the neighbouring countries are most clearly ahead in the findability of digital services, as other Nordic municipalities are more active in communicating about the available services to their residents. The services include digital learning platforms, day care services, building permits and welfare technology.

Although eight of the top ten municipalities were large municipalities, only two Nordic capitals were included: Copenhagen in fifth place and Stockholm in eight place. Both Oslo (18th) and Helsinki (20th) reached the top 20, but remained at the bottom of the capital comparison, as both of them are struggling to promote permit and decision-making processes regarding the placement of new base stations more than the other capitals. Compared to the other Nordic countries, Finland had the least municipalities in the top 30: Tampere, Oulu, Helsinki, Vantaa and Salo in ranking order.

Tampere and Salo lead the development of Finnish municipalities in their own size classes

The study shows that the nationally largest Finnish municipalities are at the forefront of digital development, with just a few exceptions. The first place in Finland was awarded to Tampere, who performed relatively steady in the different areas of the study. Oulu was almost neck and neck with Tampere, while Helsinki was significantly behind in the placement of the mobile network infrastructure, where the capital received the weakest score of all Finnish municipalities. Jyväskylä was the weakest performer of the large municipalities and came in 52nd place in the Nordic comparison.

Small and medium-sized municipalities were behind the larger ones in almost all areas of the comparison on both Nordic and national levels, but they are particularly challenged by the development of a smart city. However, Salo stands out in the group as the only medium-sized Finnish municipality in the top 30. The city is currently working on a smart city initiative.

The Finnish municipalities that performed the best in the various areas of the study are a good indicator of the digital strengths of municipalities:

• Placement of the mobile communication network: Vantaa (5.9)

• Communication about digital services: Helsinki (7.8)

• Level of smart city development: Helsinki (8.5)

For Finnish municipalities with the fewest points, the study highlights the digital development needs:

• Placement of the mobile communication network: Helsinki (1.8)

• Communication about digital services: Teuva (3.3)

• Level of smart city development: Rauma (0.1) and Teuva (0.1)

Following the example of larger cities: “Cooperation between municipalities should be increased”

Thanks to the favourable operating environment in the Nordic countries, the small municipalities that did not perform so well are nonetheless well equipped to improve their digital status and exploit their full potential by learning from the larger municipalities’ experiences.

In particular, the research findings recommend proactive planning in municipal construction projects, so that the time and costs of implementing a mobile network infrastructure can be significantly reduced while ensuring network coverage for various stakeholders. In addition, key findings recommend more efficient communication about the availability of digital services for residents. Resources are one of the main differences between small and large municipalities, which is why joint inter-municipal projects and national digitalisation programmes are worth considering.

“COVID-19 has been a concrete example of how important it is for the society to function digitally. The findings of the study provide valuable information for municipalities about the preconditions of a functional digital community and the requirements for an effective deployment of 5G services. It’s clear that cooperation between municipalities must be increased to reduce the digital gap,” says CEO Jukka Leinonen from DNA.

“At the same time, the research provides an overview of our services which are already available to our municipal customers. We hope that the findings will help municipalities learn from each other and take advantage of good practices,” Leinonen continues.

Further information about the study

The purpose of the Nordic Digital Municipality Index, commissioned by DNA in cooperation with Telenor Group, was to examine the situation of digitalisation in municipalities. A total of 15 municipalities were selected from each country with a random sampling of five municipalities in three size classes (small, medium and large). In order to reduce the interdependence effects in the municipalities, the random sampling was also distributed geographically.

The study included 27 different parameters to measure three key areas of digitalisation: mobile network placement, communication about digital services and phase of smart city development. For the first section, material was collected by interviewing Telenor’s experts and contractors about their experiences of working with municipalities. For the second and third sections, material was collected from the websites of the examined municipalities and other information sources. Thus, the scoring represents plans publicly confirmed by the municipalities as well as other communication about the available digital services and ongoing digitalisation projects. The three examined sections were scored statistically, and the figures were combined as total points for each municipality. The survey was carried out by research company Analysys Mason.

To the study: https://www.telenor.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Nordic-Digital-Municipality-Index-2020.pdf 

Further information for the media:

Jukka Leinonen, CEO, DNA Plc, tel. +358 44 044 1000, jukka.leinonen@dna.fi

DNA Corporate Communications, tel. +358 44 044 8000, communications@dna.fi


DNA examined Nordic municipalities’ capacity to launch and deploy new digital services in the era of 5G connections.
DNA examined Nordic municipalities’ capacity to launch and deploy new digital services in the era of 5G connections.



About DNA Oyj

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DNA is one of the leading telecommunications companies in Finland. We want to make our customers' daily lives less complicated. We offer connections, services and devices for homes and workplaces, contributing to the digitalisation of society. DNA's customers are continuously among the world mobile data usage leaders. We are Finland's largest cable TV operator. DNA has more than 4 million subscriptions in its fixed and mobile communications networks. The company was ranked the best employer in Finland in the large companies category of the 2019 Great Place to Work survey. In 2019, our net sales were EUR 942 million and we employ about 1,600 people around Finland. DNA is a part of Telenor Group, a leading telecommunications company across the Nordics. More information: www.dna.fi, Twitter @DNA_fi, Facebook @DNA.fi and LinkedIn @DNA-Oyj.

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