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At the beginning of 2019, the city of Espoo started a skills centre that supports immigrants with integration and finding employment. The skills centre combines services from different service providers across organisational boundaries. The results from the first year of operation look promising.

The study will also examine the use of data virtualisation and the use of a virtual data pool when combining data from different registers. In data virtualisation, the data remains in the original register and no new personal register is created.

Combining data at an individual level from different registers on this scale is internationally unique. Thanks to a register system that is based on the Finnish personal identity code, a lot of data has been collected. However, the study does not analyse personal information, but all personal information such as name, personal identity code, and address is deleted. The personal identity code is replaced with a random number string. In other words, the data is pseudonymised before being made available to researchers in a secure analytics environment. As the study progresses, the results will be reported in such way that individuals cannot be identified from the data at any stage.

VTT’s study includes two groups, one consisting of skills centre customers, and the other consisting of immigrants living in Espoo who have not been customers of the skills centre. Using similarity measures, people who are selected for the comparison group will be selected on the basis that their background is similar to the skills centre’s customers. The total sample volume of the study is 6,000, with 3,000 people in each group.

VTT’s research group also includes researchers from various fields from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. In order to protect ethics and privacy, it is important that the impact study is carried out by a party who is not the data controller. This way it is not possible for a researcher to even accidentally see personal data. None of the authorities that provide services and provide data for the study have access to customer data from other registers.

VTT conducts internationally cutting-edge research on information security, data analytics, artificial intelligence, data solutions, impact assessments and complex systems. Data analytics research is also applied to other services, such as data-driven development of medication.