Tracking "invisible" populations in Finland

Thu 04 Jul 2019

How can health providers staff and plan their services when they don’t know how many people there are to plan for – especially in rural areas?

ROBUST researchers are using sophisticated GIS analyses as part of their work with the Helsinki Living Lab to better understand the phenomenon of “multi-locality” in Finland and how it affects local service delivery and public infrastructure in rural regions. LUKE researchers Olli Lehtonen, Tolvo Mulu and Hilkka Vihnon recently published an article in European Countryside that takes a deeper look at their methodology and findings.

In the simplest terms, multi-local living (multi-locality) means that someone has more than one residence or place to stay and they move between these locations throughout the year, usually seasonally. Though they are not registered as residents, these seasonal dwellers also use local resources, infrastructure and services, and they have considerable impact on rural land use patterns and ecosystems. As such, seasonal and average population measures can be helpful in a number of planning and policy fields.

In Finland, multi-locality has become a common phenomenon in recent decades, but its effects are not yet considered in decision-making or planning. This is because the “invisible population” created by multi-locality is not captured in traditional population statistics. The assumption in the article, “Multi-local living – An opportunity for rural health services?”, is that multi-locality could provide opportunities to improve access to health and social services in rural regions. The researchers tested their assumption in the North Kymenlaakso region to see if “one-stop” and mobile services are cost-efficient and flexible service models for rural areas.



The results of the GIS analysis showed their usefulness when an attempt is made to understand the role of multiple residence and the different local properties of the rural areas in the planning and provision of health services. The results call for increasing the visibility of multi-locality in society and to better utilize it as a resource for rural area development. For more details, you can read the article here.

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News about Rural-Urban Europe and the ROBUST project is published regularly in the INFORMED CITIES newsletter.

ROBUST is a European research project involving 24 partners from 11 countries. ROBUST receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727988.

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