To democratise tech, we need to demystify it

Have you ever wondered how a platform is able to facilitate thousands of deliveries from restaurants and stores to customers in hundreds of cities across Europe every day? Algorithms play a huge role in enhancing the efficiency of this process, but what does it mean for couriers and their work? How can it work in their favor?

These are questions of curiosity – and sometimes concern – that arises from an inaccessibility of information about how platforms work. As a tech company, autonomous digital tools, or algorithms, play a vital part in the delivery process and facilitate millions of decisions everyday. To help bridge the gap between policymakers, platform workers, merchants, and consumers, we need to make information about these tools more accessible.

As part of Wolt’s ongoing commitment to transparency, we launched the very first Wolt Algorithmic Transparency Report in April. The report explains how the tools powering our platform works from the perspective of all partners.

Our CEO Miki Kuusi handing over the Wolt Algorithmic Transparency Report to EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit.

Our CEO Miki Kuusi handing over the Wolt Algorithmic Transparency Report to EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit.

At the end of the day, we want to make our partners happy and the cities we operate in a better place to live. We think technology can help achieve this goal. By demonstrating how algorithms and platforms can play a positive role in society, we hope to further demystify and democratize technology.

Launching the ‘Demystifying Tech’ series – bringing policymakers and product developers together

Besides sharing more information on how the technology behind a platform works, we need to involve all relevant partners in the conversations about its future. That’s why Wolt is launching a new workshop series, which provides policymakers with an opportunity to hear directly from Wolt’s product team about the technology they are building.

Wolt's Director of Courier Product Rajesh Sing explained how Wolt's task algorithm works.

The first workshop in the series was co-hosted by Finnish Member of the European Parliament Henna Virkkunen and held in Brussels in September featuring our very own Head of Global Operations, Janne Virtala, and the Director of Courier Product, Rajesh Singh.

MEP Henna Virkkunen emphasising the importance of transparency in the digital world.

MEP Virkkunen opened up the workshop by highlighting the importance of digitalisation and technology in fostering innovation. Transparency of technology is equally important. She also welcomed Wolt’s initiatives on algorithmic transparency as something platforms should follow.

Transparency in algorithms is key to increasing competition in the digital space

– MEP Henna Virkkunen

Janne Virtala then took us through the history of Wolt, explaining that if you want the platform to run smoothly, keeping all partners happy is paramount. Rajesh Singh explained how the task algorithm is essentially there to reduce mental workload and optimize for efficiency. As a result, the algorithm takes into account only the courier’s proximity to the pick-up and drop-off points, the type of delivery vehicle, and the courier’s availability to receive task offers.

Wolt's Head of Global Operations Janne Virtala leading the audience through the history of Wolt and how the platform works.

The event set out to answer the audience’s questions, but the interest in the topic goes well beyond one workshop and ongoing dialogue is needed. Therefore, we are looking forward to our next Demystifying Tech event where we will help broaden the understanding of how we do things at Wolt.