Four cities developed an information system for early childhood education – it is now available to other municipalities
Espoo, Tampere, Turku and Oulu have introduced the eVaka system, which they have developed together. The system allows the cities to save hundreds of thousands of euros every year in licence fees. The eVaka system has been developed using an open-source model, allowing all municipalities to use the system.
eVaka is an early childhood education system that facilitates day care centres’ administration, invoicing, real-time staff presence monitoring, communication and the booking of children’s hours of attendance. The system has been developed by the cities of Espoo, Tampere, Turku and Oulu. eVaka is based on an open-source model, which means that it is available free of charge to other municipalities. Future system updates will also be free of charge, and no licence fees are charged for using the system.
“We offer municipalities the most comprehensive, continuously improving system with the lowest operating costs,” says the City of Espoo’s Chief Digital Officer Harri Luttinen.
The system itself is free of charge, but each municipality is responsible for the costs related to the introduction of the system and the required IT infrastructure. For example, eight municipalities in the Tampere region have decided to switch to eVaka. Municipalities interested in eVaka can contact the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities for basic information on how to get started.
“Other municipalities now have a chance to enjoy the fruits of the developer cities’ investments. By switching to eVaka, large cities can save hundreds of thousands of euros every year in licence fees,” says IT Manager Arto Kahila from the City of Tampere.
Developer cities have invested in the system
So far, a total of EUR 9 million has been spent on developing the eVaka system. The Ministry of Finance has provided EUR 3.4 million in funding, and the cities of Espoo, Tampere, Turku and Oulu have paid the rest of the costs. The four cities have invested in the development of a new system because there was no existing system that would cover all the needs of early childhood education. In Tampere, for example, they used three different early childhood education systems before eVaka.
“When all information is in one system, it is easier to automate various administrative processes and employees can focus on more important work,” says eVaka Product Manager Miia Latvala.
The developer cities also consider it important that they get to decide on the future development of the system. Their aim is to develop the system so that it can be used for the next 10 years.
Choosing best practices
Massive system projects related to basic municipal services are not necessarily easy to carry out. The eVaka project also faced some challenges in the beginning. According to Miia Latvala, the key to success was the decision to carry out the project in phases. For this reason, the first version did not have all the possible features, only the most important ones.
In order to introduce a common system, the four cities had to harmonise their practices, for example in terms of invoicing and recording children’s attendances.
“Our cities compared each other’s way of doing the same thing and chose the smartest one. We then discussed whether the selected approach could be further simplified before integrating it into eVaka and introducing it in our cities,” says Virpi Mattila, Espoo’s Director of Early Childhood Education.
“If another city has a better way of doing something, we all have to be prepared to learn from it,” says Vesa Kulmala, the City of Turku’s Service Area Director for Early Childhood Education.
The municipalities are now developing the third version of eVaka, which will automate financial processes and improve communication between guardians and day care centres.
“The lessons learned from the eVaka project should also be used in other public sector information system projects,” says the City of Espoo’s Chief Information Officer Maarit Waskilampi-Kuikka.
- 2017–2020 The City of Espoo developed and introduced the first version of eVaka.
- 2020–2021 The Ministry of Finance granted Espoo and Tampere funding from the digitalisation incentive scheme for the development of the second version of eVaka.
- 2022 Oulu and Turku joined the development project. eVaka 2.0 introduced in Tampere and Oulu. Development of the third version started.
- 2023 eVaka introduced in Turku. Neighbouring municipalities of Tampere made a decision on an introduction project.
- Early Childhood Education