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Accepted Paper:

Infrastructuring Digital Social and Health Services in Finland: The Case of Omaolo  
Sonja Trifuljesko (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the emergence of Omaolo, a digital channel for social and health services in Finland, using anthropological approaches to the study of infrastructure.

Paper long abstract:

In mid-March 2020, a state-owned company dedicated to advancing the digitalisation of health and social services in Finland launched a coronavirus symptom checker. Although being developed merely for six days before it was released, this web-based symptom self-assessment tool turned out to be one of the primary means for managing the spread of the COVID-19 by the Finnish public health authorities. That became possible, however, only because the coronavirus symptom checker was from the very beginning embedded in an extended material assemblage that brought together multiple digital social and health services offered by Finnish municipalities and hospital districts, known as Omaolo. In this paper, I examine how Omaolo was assembled in the first place. To do that, I go back to the period between 2016 and 2018 and zoom in on a national flagship project titled “Self-care and digital value services”, out of which Omaolo was born. Using anthropological approaches to the study of infrastructure to explore the project’s blog posts and other qualitative material, I investigate the entanglements between the digital and the analogue in the emergence of Omaolo. In doing so, I am able to offer one type of explanation why Omaolo ended up being a well-functioning infrastructure in utterly dysfunctional times.

Panel P040a
Digital Transformations and Social Life [Future Anthropologies Network] I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -