No innovation without the government

Arnar Sigurðsson, founder of the start-up company East of Moon, says it is a myth that value is not created by the government and that the City of Reykjavík should not be wavering about starting a business.

Residents of Reykjavik can expect to see services called “telemonitoring” in the coming years, and healthcare providers will be able to provide service to up to ten times as many patients than today. Extensive work has been done on digital solutions, and visits to city service centers have gone down 50% since December.

This is among the findings of the Citizens’ Forum on Innovation, which was part of the Innovation Week.

Government can work well with the private sector

“Public employees are valuable, and therefore we need to invest in innovation. So government is not just using resources, but also creating them. For them to be valuable, public employees and society must be given the right to make mistakes,” Sigurðsson told a reporter after the meeting.

He added that the "right to make mistakes" should be a civil right, as should the right to vote.

In a platform, Sigurðsson had said that the City of Reykjavík should not be afraid to support innovation through funding and even should start a business around innovation. He mentions the example of the company Carbfix. A journalist asked them if he believed innovation would be created without government.

“No. Unlike what is often argued, the government does not take away from the private sector, but rather, it creates new paths and creates new sectors. The best example of this is the technological revolution we are experiencing today, which is nourished and based on investments made by the government,” says Sigurðsson.

Remote Monitoring in the Near Future

Auður Guðmundsdóttir, team leader of the Reykjavík City Centre’s Welfare Technology Center, discussed digital welfare solutions and the dramatic developments expected there. She specifically mentioned remote monitoring. “In remote monitoring, the symptoms and progression of chronic diseases are being monitored.”

She says that with changes in the age profile in the future, challenges will arise, as will the increased number of chronically ill patients. Because of this, it will be difficult to maintain more traditional medical care in person and to ensure the quality of care.

“Then we look at remote monitoring systems where the patient can stay in their home. The patient can then measure and answer questionnaires about his or her condition and symptoms himself or herself. Then the system would notice those who need further treatment, but the system marks the one’s who only need basic services as the colour green. This is how we can focus on those who are worse off and serve them."

According to the researcher, remote monitoring allows for 100 people to be monitored by one healthcare professional at a time, but today it is used by no more than 10 people a day.

A reporter asked her when the city’s citizens might assume that this is going to be operational. “We are launching a pilot project for the fall. It will start with people with heart failure. But in the next five years, it can be assumed that remote monitoring will increase.”

Like a shopping mall

My page is like the Kringlan mall. It’s just a shell that combines all the shops and in the service the magic happens,” says Sigurður Fjalar, product manager for My pages at the City of Reykjavík.

He is optimistic about the development of a central information portal through My pages. He says that within a few years citizens can get everything that applies to them about city services such as information about services to which citizens are entitled.

Kristinn Jón Ólafsson, chairman of the Reykjavík City Digital Council, says it is important to find a balance between the role of the City of Reykjavík and private parties in the production and design of digital solutions.

“It’s a combination. There is no single way that people are able to meet the challenges in this fast-paced world. The statistics for outsourcing of projects to private providers related to services, innovation and development projects is 60-70%.” He says it is important to build knowledge within the City of Reykjavík.

Attendance at the Reykjavík City Hall has decreased by around 50% this year compared to last year. Búi Bjartmarsson, digital leader of the service and innovation sector, believes the reason for this to be due to changes in the service delivery and service for construction representatives, but it has largely become digital.


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