The City of Oulu
With a Decade of Experience
The first citizen card system in Oulu was launched in the beginning of the millennium. Looking back at the first decade of the system, it seems that it has succeeded in fullfilling the initial vision - the ticket processing and clearing activities have streamlined the implementation and offering of the city services. “The citizen card system enables us to handle tickets more efficiently and, simultaneously, we have been able to collect accurate and up-to-date information about the use of our services” says Jussi Keskinarkaus, the system designer from the city of Oulu.
“Ten years have taught us a great deal about the features of an optimal citizen card system - In principle, the more flexible, the better” claims Jussi Keskinarkaus. In addition, Keskinarkaus points out that the system should not be tied to a certain card type or tag and the deployment of a new card should be as simple as possible.
It is important that acquiring the card and using its services is easy and convenient for the end user. “We have succeeded in this aspect very well” describes Keskinarkaus. In order to attract and retain new users, the card must also be easy to use and the services value-adding. From the user's perspective, the security aspect is naturally very important, and the card should be designed in such a way that it doesn’t come at the expense of usability.
Implementation of the Online System
Oulu's existing citizen card system was modernised during years 2009-2011. The major change was adopting an online-based system. Consequently, the data on the cards was transferred to a back office system. Now the cards contain a unique citizen ID and they are no longer tied to a single identification tag. Instead, the users can connect several identification tags to their account. Hence, once registered, a public transportation card can be used as an identification tag in the citizen card system. According to Mr Keskinarkaus, thousands of public transportation cards have been registered saving the city from sending additional cards for each citizen.
Jussi Keskinarkaus notes that the usability of the card has improved: “Now we can use the existing cards and the implementation of new services and delivery of these services to the cardholders can be done remotely”. “Today we offer more and more services and there are many new ways to use the card. We use the OuluCard in multiple occasions: To validate a citizen's access right, to invoice for a service and to collect charges in real time. We have witnessed an increase in the number of credit customers after the launch of the new system” says Keskinarkaus.
The central and management systems provided by Unicom have become increasingly important after implementation of the online-based system. Each transaction connects the online system to the central management system and new features and services must be added to the central management system.
The Citizen Card Today
Today OuluCard is used both by the citizens and the employees of Oulu. The cards can be recharged in separate service points or in the city customer service point. Lunch vouchers, sport vouchers and public transport services can all be linked to the card. Currently, there are over 25.000 cards and few dozens of service points and the services are being continuously expanded. Typically, over 100.000 payment transactions and 200.000 ticketing transactions linked to the lunch and sport services are cleared in the system every year.
The customers and service providers have been especially satisfied by the lunch services. Daily, some 3.000 employees of the city pay for their lunch with the citizen card. With the same card, the employees can offer lunch for their guests. The card can also be used as a valid bus ticket. Sports services enabled by the card are also gaining popularity since they allow the employers to set up specific subventions. The subvention rates are automatically calculated by the card system. “The system makes it possible to automate invoicing. As a result, the entire activity chain from customer payment to the moment of service is coordinated online” describes Jussi Keskinarkaus. Also, the turnstile gates of several sports arenas are linked to the system which automatically checks the access rights of each user. This self-service feature has generated a lot of positive feedback.
In the Year 2020
“I suppose that the new system will be in use for the next ten years”, foresees Jussi Keskinarkaus. “The updated system is more standardised and the multi-application concept can cover more services than before”. Preparing for the future role of the public sector, Keskinarkaus notes: “It is likely that the city purchases more and more services from the private sector. The current, open system makes also this possible.”
The Oulu Citizen Card in Figures
- 30 service points
- Over 25 000 cards
- 100 000 yearly payment transactions for the clearing
- 200 000 yearly ticketing transactions