A man used a computer in the Tapiola Library on Monday.The City of Espoo has misplaced over 9,600 desktops, laptops, printers and screens leased from a service provider.

The city filed a request for inquiry with law enforcement authorities in early December after failing in its attempts to solve the mystery of the missing devices. “The number of missing devices is astonishing. The devices apparently went missing over a several-year period,” says Mauri Suuperko, the director of public utilities services at Espoo.

He says that he has never heard of a similar case. “When put together, we're talking about truck-loads of devices,” he highlights.

Suuperko admits that although the missing devices are password-protected no one knows exactly whether or not they pose any data security risks. “The contracts stipulate that the service provider is responsible for data security after a device has been removed from use,” he reminds.

The City of Espoo has over 25,000 computers spread out across its offices and public utilities. Its employees were informed of the situation late on Monday afternoon.

Personnel at the Tapiola Library, however, had yet to hear about the disappearance on Monday evening. “This is news to me, it sounds bewildering,” librarian Camilla Åhlberg said.

The librarians confirmed that a third party is responsible for the maintenance of the computers in the library, adding that they have not encountered any unusual problems with the service provider in question.

Suuperko underlines that no city employees are suspected of involvement in the disappearance. “Police, however, will naturally look into all possibilities,” he reminds. He also reveals that the missing devices are evenly spread between units and departments.

The City of Espoo estimates the value of the missing devices at several millions of euros. In addition, the city may be liable for late payment charges due to its inability to return the devices in accordance with the contract.

The late payment charges were precisely what caught the attention of Jukka Pitkänen following his appointment as the city's ICT director in 2012. The subsequent inquiry has according to Suuperko proven extremely challenging and concerned numerous contract partners.

One of the contract partners is Fujitsu, which was responsible not only for the delivery and removal of ordered devices but also for the maintenance of the device registry of Espoo and the submission of reports to Danske Finance.

The provider of financial services declined to comment on the issue, citing banking secrecy rules.

The City of Espoo has opened an inquiry into the life-cycle services and already detected considerable inconsistencies in the operations of service providers. “After our inquiry hit a wall, the city filed a criminal report with the police on 1 December 2014,” tells Suuperko.

The city overhauled the management system of its information and communications technology services in 2014 due to the inconsistencies. The system is currently managed by CGI Suomi Oy and funded by Kuntarahoitus Oy. The inconsistencies do not concern the current contract partners of Espoo.

Marja Salmela, Tiia Kähärä – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jukka Gröndahl / HS