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Forum Virium Helsinki - Building an Open City


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Forum Virium Helsinki was founded in 2006. Take a look at our publication; Building an Open City and see how have we been building a smarter city.

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Forum Virium Helsinki - Building an Open City

  1. 1. 19 Helsinki Loves Developers 6 Helsinki makes top six Smart Cities 30 Test lab of a smart city 37 Smart Helsinki shines bright BUILDING AN OPEN CITY 14 Open data to citizens
  2. 2. Smart city development INNOVATION UNIT DEVELOPING DIGITAL SERVICES, BUILDING AN OPEN AND SMART HELSINKI Forum Virium Helsinki is an innovation unit within the Helsinki City organization. It develops new digital services in cooperation with companies, other City of Helsinki units and residents. Our objective is to build better city services, create new business opportunities as well as open up new contacts for international markets. Forum Virium Helsinki, an innovation cluster for open digital services, was founded in 2006. During the years, the most significant change in our operations has been the move from the early technology led development projects to fully-fledged city development. We have a European-wide collaboration network. The digital solutions developed in our projects can be utilised in Helsinki, Amsterdam and Barcelona alike. Cities around the world will benefit from services built together on shared platforms. We are an innovation unit developing digital city services, with our home base in Helsinki. EU-funded CitySDK project, now evolved into a new Connected Smart Cities Network, has enhanced city-to-city collaboration by opening up and harmonizing APIs in European cities. The Six City Strategy (6Aika), a co-operation strategy carried out by the six largest cities in Finland, is a unique opportunity to continue this work and build interoperable city services. No wonder the strategy has raised a lot of interest abroad. At Forum Virium Helsinki, we’ve experienced our greatest successes when building bridges between the public and the private sector. Our development projects are based on the same principle: we solve public sector problems, but the solutions are often developed by private companies and residents. A good example is the award-winning Helsinki Region Infoshare. The service has driven the opening up of public sector data in the municipalities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area since 2011. The results are impressive. Over 1000 data sets created with public funds have already been given free, open access. Today, dozens of mobile apps developed by start-ups and enthusiastic citizens are making the most out of open data. HRI and the opening up of public sector data progressed so smoothly that Forum Virium Helsinki has already left its temporary role as an innovation partner and taken a back seat. At the start of 2014, the HRI service became part of municipalities’ regular operations. The operating model of Forum Virium Helsinki is based on user-driven open innovation. Some talk about agile development, while others call it a culture of experimentation. Regardless of terminology, it means a significant paradigm shift in public sector operations. The role of Forum Virium Helsinki is to drive development towards a seamless service experience for citizens, which in turn allows the city to benefit from offering digital services, too. During the years, we have also improved at what we do. Today we have a better understanding of how piloting and experiments can be transferred into being part of everyday life of city residents. To ensure that development projects continue beyond short-term pilots, our partners must benefit from the experiments. When all stakeholders are committed to a project, they are likely to end up satisfied, even if goals are not immediately achieved. What matters most is the shared journey of learning. You can find examples of our successful experiments in this publication. Jarmo Eskelinen, Forum Virium Helsinki We are an innovation unit developing digital city services, with our home base in Helsinki. 2
  3. 3. Contents 3 FORUM VIRIUM HELSINKI BUILDING AN OPEN CITY Publisher Forum Virium Helsinki, communications Editor-in-chief Pauliina Smeds, Forum Virium Helsinki Editors Petja Partanen, Tarinatakomo; Heini Jokinen, p. 26-33 Translations Anna Kurkijärvi-Willans, Ink Tank Design and layout: Valeria Gasik, Sokeri; Marko Tanninen, Frendo; Lauri Huusko, Thanks to Kaisa Eskola, Suvi Kukkonen and all interviewees Enquiries Pauliina Smeds, Printed by Lönnberg Print & Promo, 2014 Cover image Rodeo 14 The building site for a smart city The vacuum-powered waste collection system of Kalasatama reduces lorry traffic on residential streets, Hannu Penttilä says. Library books with a travel card Digital city card as the key to digital services. Apps4Finland rewards the best of open data In 2014, City of Helsinki awarded the Pro Urbe Digitali prize to the Apps4Finland competition for driving digital innovation. Open data to citizens Helsinki Region Infoshare was awarded a 100 000 euro innovation prize by the European Commission in 2013. Helsinki makes top six Smart Cities Thanks to agile city development policies, Helsinki is officially one of the EU’s smartest cities. Toolkit for developing city services Code fellows as change agents What does Forum Virium Helsinki mean to the city of Helsinki? Growth services Supporting start-ups to take over the world. 6 11 24 16 19 2622 4 28 Citizen hotline to top political decision makers 30 Kalasatama: Helsinki’s Smart City laboratory 33 Innovation unit of the City of Helsinki 34 The anatomy of a successful development project 37 Smart Helsinki shines bright 38 6Aika: the Six City Strategy for smart and open urban development 40 Speeding up innovation with public sector procurement 42 First hand insight for companies 43 Contact us! Digital wayfinding for the city of Helsinki 27 What has Forum Virium Helsinki achieved? 12
  4. 4. 4 The City of Helsinki Strategy Programme 2013-2016 outlines an objective: “The documents and other data produced by the City are available to all residents, easily and without restrictions. In addition, the information can be utilised in all operations that are not connected to the City’s operations.” The Helsinki Region Infoshare (HRI) project for opening up public data has taken off quickly. The HRI service already covers over 1000 open data sets from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Opening up data is useful for the owners of the data, too. When Helsinki Region Transport (HRT) introduced an open interface to its public transport schedule and route information, dozens of private mobile services were launched to make use of its data. Over half of the world’s population currently lives in cities and the number is growing. In the Helsinki Metropolitan Area alone, there will be 100 000 new inhabitants in the next 10 years. The fast growth of Helsinki and thousands of other cities in the world brings new problems – as well as huge opportunities. The most important tools for building Smart Helsinki are new technology and open access to data. However, the building site is not limited to Helsinki. When cities were primarily made of bricks and concrete, it was natural to produce all services locally. In a digital world this is unwise. The smart practices developed in one city spread faster than ever, thanks to technology companies and the internet. Sharing information costs nothing. This is why open standards and replicating successful operating models is particularly worthwhile in the digital world. A smart city is like a Lego building. The important bricks are the electronic services, which are connected by open data interfaces. The same bricks work everywhere and they can be put together in creative ways. Smart Helsinki is built one brick at a time. In this publication you can take a closer look at the brickwork of a smart city, which Forum Virium Helsinki has helped to put together. ► According to urban strategist Boyd Cohen, a smart city is made of six components: smart living, smart mobility, smart environment, smart economy, smart government, and smart people. The building site for a smart city PHOTO OLLI-PEKKA ORPO GRAPHICS VALERIA GASIK FORUM VIRIUM HELSINKI HAS A SIMPLE GOAL. TO BUILD A SMART CITY. When the European Parliament published its research about 468 Smart City projects in Europe in early 2014, Helsinki was ranked in the top six Smart Cities, together with Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Manchester and Vienna. 14 37 SMART PEOPLE Good education, the opportunity to participate in decision making and fulfill aspirations. SMART MOBILITY A well-functioning public transport and cycling network together with IT systems will prevent traffic jams. Helsinki Region Infoshare Opening up public data International networks Smart Helsinki shines bright
  5. 5. 5 In today’s cities, IT departments mainly function as procurement organisations. But what if coding was done in-house instead? Forum Virium Helsinki’s Code fellowship proved to be very successful. Code fellow Timo Tuominen has continued his predecessors’ development work on the HRT City Navigator public transport service. The open source application is easy to roll out in new cities, too. The City Navigator is already operational in Tampere, Manchester and Athens. An SDK (Software Development Kit) refers to a toolkit which technology companies like Amazon and Google offer free of charge to application developers. Forum Virium Helsinki’s CitySDK project has introduced the same operating model to the urban digital environment. Within the project, Helsinki has opened up its data systems and offered support for private developers interested in developing city services. This collaboration project of eight EU cities has simultaneously driven the advancement of the copy-paste culture. City services developed in Helsinki are also in use in Amsterdam and Rome. New districts provide an opportunity to renew the city. Helsinki’s Kalasatama district will have an abundance of smart city technology: smart sensors, innovative energy stores and an electricity grid, in which a customer can also be an energy producer. Forum Virium Helsinki’s Smart Kalasatama project explores ways to put the new smart technologies to the best possible use. The aim is to make the most of city officials’ and residents’ creativity, to serve everyone who lives in the area. A travel card, a library card, a debit card and an ID card. Forum Virium Helsinki is testing how the dozens of digital city services could be used with a single card or mobile phone. 19 16 30 26 SMART LIVING A healthy, safe and vibrant urban environment. SMART GOVERNANCE Transparent administration, open data, smart use of technology SMART ENVIRONMENT An environmentally friendly energy system, clever city planning SMART ECONOMY Entrepreneurship, innovations and internationality Smart Kalasatama Helsinki’s Smart City laboratory Digital City Card One card for city services Code for Europe Open IT development for cities CitySDK A toolkit for building a digital city
  6. 6. Building a better Helsinki ▲ The open API for Helsinki’s decision making system has taken the transparency of municipal decision-making to a globally unprecedented level. PHOTOS OKKO OINONEN; GRAPHICS VALERIA GASIK When the European Parliament compared the Smart City initiatives of 468 European cities, Helsinki was ranked as one of the top six [p. 37]. Propelled by agile city development policies, Helsinki is planning to stay at the cutting edge in the future [p. 34 - 35].
  7. 7. 7 Jussi Pajunen, the Mayor of Helsinki, is presenting his favourite app in the lobby of Helsinki City Hall. “I get all decision-making related information straight to my mobile phone, with all the attachments,” Pajunen marvels. Indeed, in just a few clicks, his Lumia smartphone screen displays the latest council bills, the auditor’s statement, the new traffic plans and committee verdicts. Only recently, while shopping on a Saturday, he got a call from a journalist asking him to comment on a new council bill. The Mayor was not yet even aware of what the bill entailed. “I could research and comment on the issue immediately, in the middle of my grocery shopping,” Mayor Pajunen says. This story has been heard several times. It has been told at city seminars, and the Ahjo Explorer app has been demonstrated to Pajunen’s colleagues around the world. The Mayor’s favourite app probably wouldn’t exist if Forum Virium Helsinki hadn’t suggested to Markku Rautio, City of Helsinki’s IT Manager, that Helsinki participate in a code fellowship program [p. 19]. These days, cities’ IT departments mainly function as procurement organisations. In a pilot initiated by Forum Virium Helsinki, six European cities employed open data professionals to work as IT procurement experts and drive selected coding projects. Juha Yrjölä, who worked as a Code fellow for Helsinki city, was quick to build an open interface for the council’s decision making system. User-centric digital city services Forum Virium Helsinki’s development projects drive the creation of digital city services. From the very start, ideas under development are tested as part of users’ everyday lives. Another goal is to create new business opportunities for companies. The Smart City Innovation unit for Helsinki City was founded in 2006. When the CEO of Forum Virium Helsinki, Jarmo Eskelinen, is asked what has been its most important achievement to date, he doesn’t hesitate. “It’s definitely our leap into the world of open data in 2009. Back then it was still only raved about by a small group of geeks, but we believed that we should grab hold of the concept,” Eskelinen states. Forum Virium Helsinki teamed up with data enthusiasts to launch the Apps4Finland app competition for utilising open data sources [p. 22]. This cooperation with open data proponents has since given birth to the idea about an open city. “The city needs to be an enabler. The best way to enable is to open up processes, data and data systems as well as the city’s operating models,” Eskelinen says. The most significant pioneer work for opening up public data has been done by the Helsinki Region Infoshare service, involving municipalities in the Helsinki Metropolitan area [p. 14]. The numbers speak for themselves: the service already covers over 1000 open data sets. Towards open interfaces City of Helsinki’s own Helsinki Development Portal ( is leading by example in opening up interfaces [p. 16]. The most popular open data sets are built into interfaces, from which it is easy for web and mobile apps to make simple data queries. This has been utilised by for example Helsinki Region Transport HRT, which already gave everyone open access to its public transport timetables and routes in 2009. Dozens of mobile services developed by both companies and individuals conduct millions of data searches on the interface every year. The only investment HRT had to make was to open up the interface. The cost of making data accessible is usually minimal compared to the total cost of a data system. “The building and maintenance of the open interfaces of our Journey Planner service have cost us 60 000 euro in three years. Over the years, we have spent a total of approximately 5 million on developing the Journey Planner,” HRT Project Manager Jari Honkonen confirms. Ahjo Explorer is the favorite app of Jussi Pajunen, the Mayor of Helsinki. It shows the latest council bills and committee verdicts in the screen of a mobile phone. In few years, Helsinki has become the pioneer in opening up data
  8. 8. 8 Mayor Pajunen points out that the Ahjo Explorer app has not cost Helsinki city a penny either. It was born because Jouni Tiainen, an independent app developer, wanted to build an easy way for people to access the city’s decision making data. But clever standalone mobile apps alone have not propelled Helsinki to the top of the world’s Smart City rankings. The city owes its success to the underlying basic philosophy, the transparency of public information. In 2011, the Ahjo decision making system gave 5000 civil servants and local politicians access to a paperless office. The system gained international recognition when the programming interface by Code fellow Juha Yrjölä expanded its potential user base to millions. Today, any citizen, journalist or data enthusiast can explore Helsinki city’s decision making documents from anywhere in the world, around the clock. Openness as a philosophy A discussion in the meeting room of Forum Virium Helsinki revolves around visiting the local health care centre. The current users of Kallio health care centre are asked about what services they would like to find in the wellbeing centres of the future. Forum Virium Helsinki’s Smart Kalasatama project [p. 30] is mapping residents’ expectations for their health care services. The information will be used in planning the new social services and health care centre of the Kalasatama district. The focus group quickly gets to the core challenges of any public health care system. Getting care is the biggest bottleneck. Some would like to book appointments in the web, while others even suggest doctor’s appointments via Skype. People are also keen to access their own health data. The Smart Kalasatama project is conducted in close cooperation with the City of Helsinki Department of Social Services and Health Care. Project Manager Veera Mustonen is happy that users have been involved from the very beginning. “The best way forward is service design, planning services that are based on user needs.” Building a new city district requires millions in investment. How do Forum Virium Helsinki’s operating methods, agile piloting and user engagement fit in with creating city infrastructure? “Of course you need a basic infrastructure for the city, but it can have smart elements,” claims Hannu Penttilä, the former Deputy Mayor of Helsinki. Rubbish trucks are a rare sight on the streets of Kalasatama – the bins empty themselves. Sucked by a vacuum into under- ground pipelines, banana peels whizz into the local waste management facility at a speed of up to 70 kilometres per hour. The electricity grid is also intelligent. In the smart grid, energy and information travel in two directions, meaning that the grid’s customers can also be energy producers. A huge energy storage system is being planned for the new Kalasatama electrical substation, with a capacity equivalent to the peak output of about 4000 solar panels. “But in addition to this, what we need is people’s creativity. When the basic infrastructure works, people can build their own innovations on top of it. Helsinki’s Restaurant Day is a great example of this.” Penttilä believes the new smart city services are an ideal creative playground for Forum Virium Helsinki. In Kalasatama, he hopes to witness services that will make people’s everyday lives easier. As the city’s development unit, Forum Virium Helsinki has the potential to make a huge difference. “At best, it can be a bridge between corporate innovations and the city. And that is exactly what we need.” The pilot culture bears fruit The agile pilot culture is suitable for a vast range of projects and experiments. “It has been ideal for schools, as well as for personal, preventative healthcare. And, of course, for any IT services,” Jarmo Eskelinen lists. Nowadays, it seems that public sector is alone in conducting IT procurement focused on large project entities. Eskelinen highlights the change that Todd Park, the Chief Technology Officer of the White House, set off on the other side of the Atlantic. The most important IT decision maker of the United States administration has revolutionized IT procurement.
“All their IT projects are based on agile development. They are “When the basic infrastructure of the city functions well, it gives good support for innovations. As the development unit of the city, Forum Virium Helsinki can achieve a great deal,” says Hannu Penttilä, the former Deputy Mayor of Helsinki. CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE Let’s build the first version quickly, launch it and see what kind of feedback we’re receiving.
  9. 9. 9 led by small teams, which always include outsiders, whether they’re geeks or developers. Even in the largest projects the first prototype is out after just a few months,” Eskelinen points out. According to Eskelinen, small companies’ web service deve- lopment methods are an apt model for the public sector, too. “You build the first version quickly, launch it and see what kind of feedback you get. This method should be embraced throughout the public sector.” “The whole paradigm should be turned around, making service development projects into processes that push out products as quickly as possible. The development then kicks off and continues for a couple of years. Now what happens is that you make specifications for a couple of years, then order the work and implement it. The project ends just when it would be time to improve it.” IT projects’ agile development methods work for other aspects of city development, too. For example, the city’s decision- making data was opened up as a consequence of civil servants and citizen activists meeting up face to face in April 2012. In a workshop organized by Forum Virium Helsinki, some twenty officials and app developers got together for the first time. This three-hour session resulted in a concrete plan to open up the decision making data stored in the Ahjo system [p. 6]. Just one year later, the data was open to the general public and the Mayor alike. Digital services are easy to duplicate The shortest route from Helsinki City Hall to the Kalasatama building site can be quickly checked from a mobile phone. In many cities, this is the pinnacle of current service development, but in Helsinki it’s been part of citizen’s everyday lives for several years. The HRT City Navigator [p. 14], developed by Helsinki’s public transport company HRT, can now be used for navigating in many other European cities, too. “When cities were primarily made of bricks and concrete, it was totally natural to produce all services locally,” Jarmo Eskelinen says. “But when it comes to electronic services, repeating everything locally is a big drawback. Cities wind up paying the same development costs over and over again, hundreds of times.” “For Forum Virium Helsinki’s CitySDK project, Helsinki implemented an open issue-reporting API [p. 16]. The interface is based on the Open311 stardard, which is already in use in cities like Washington, San Francisco and Bonn. It enables anyone to report an issue or problem to the city, not just by calling but also by using an app on their computer or smartphone. “This has been pioneering work, not only on a European scale but in the entire world, too. Cities haven’t yet developed that many shared operating models.” CITIZENS PROGRAMMES CITIES DEVELOPERS ok ok ok SERVICES ok
  10. 10. 10 “Another novelty was the city’s co-operation with companies in developing the service. The people from the Sanoma group and the Helsinki City Board’s ICT Division worked together in the same room,” Eskelinen says. Today, the Open311 interface, piloted first with the city newspaper Metro, is used by multiple web services. The CitySDK project is spreading the Helsinki-tested interface to other cities, too. This ensures that the easily duplicated operating model can one day be used for profitable business. “A city the size of Helsinki is not a business in itself. Any new services have to be expandable and scalable, ideally worldwide,” Eskelinen deliberates. A group of cities and companies collaborate in building an open source service platform, on top of which different stakeholders can develop their own services. Each city buys its own systems. 3 “This is okay. When a large company sells a product to a hundred different places, as the 101st buyer the city will already get a fairly good product. The downside is that these are closed source solutions.” “The great thing about using open source code is that it enables changing service providers, it lowers costs and allows small and medium sized companies get involved in public IT service development.” “It’s expensive and inefficient. This is how things are done today, but it’s a short term solution.” Large companies produce service platforms and sell them to cities one by one. Solutions from the community Forum Virium Helsinki’s development projects solve public sector problems, but the solutions are created together with companies and citizens. “Because it’s so difficult to make everything work together, we support open and communal ways of doing things,” Eskelinen says. City challenges are often tackled as community projects, but joined in by citizen activists and companies alike. Mayor Pajunen is full of enthusiasm for the communal operating model. “Citizens want to experience and do things together and get involved in city issues, while the city can open up its data and become an enabler. It’s a multiple win-win-win situation. Better co-operation with lower costs,” Pajunen muses. The evolution of web services has reached the era of free service platforms. Blogs are written on WordPress, the Airbnb service brokers accommodation around the world, and collectables sales are soaring on eBay. “The same operating model will take over city services, too,” Eskelinen predicts. The short term dream of the CEO of Forum Virium Helsinki is fluent digital citizenship in Helsinki. City services should be accessible electronically as well as physically. A little further into the future he visualizes an international revolution, a shared digital service toolkit for open cities. “We hope that more and more cities will join us, adding more elements into the toolkit,” Eskelinen explains. The Mayor finds plenty of use for an open-minded development unit. “Forum Virium Helsinki is an ideal partner when you’re looking for a flexible operating model for applying new technology. They’re there to talk about radical innovations, which go into an unknown territory,” Jussi Pajunen says. • The Open API for the Ahjo decision making system is coded by Juha Yrjölä (in the left). His work scaled the potential user group of the Helsinki’s decision making data up to millions of people. THREE WAYS TO BUILD A SMART DIGITAL CITY Jarmo Eskelinen CEO, Forum Virium Helsinki 1 2 CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE
  11. 11. “Forum Virium Helsinki is an ideal partner for radical innovations and going into an unknown territory.” Jussi Pajunen Mayor “The role of Forum Virium Helsinki is to lead us in the right direction and help us build networks in the field of digital city services and innovation.” Jaakko Salavuo Director, Information Technology and Communications “At its best, Forum Virium Helsinki can act as a bridge between private companies’ innovations and the city.” Hannu Penttilä former Deputy Mayor “Forum Virium Helsinki speeds up innovation and enhances Helsinki’s Smart City image around the world. The pioneer work in the field of open data, smart city development and more transparent decision-making has been noticed internationally, too, and the fresh ideas have created new business opportunities.” Marja-Leena Rinkineva Director, Economic Development What does Forum Virium Helsinki mean to the city? GALLUP PHOTOS JYRKI KOMULAINEN, OKKO OINONEN, OLLI-PEKKA ORPO 11
  12. 12. What has Forum Virium Helsinki achieved? Open data to citizens Opening up public data systems is one of the key themes of Forum Virium Helsinki. Helsinki Region Infoshare gives everyone open access to data in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The yearly Apps4Finland competition awards prizes to developers making the most of open data. Events and collaboration At Forum Virium Helsinki’s events residents, companies and officials collaborate to build a better city. The aim is to bounce off ideas and ideologies, while creating new business relationships. Helsinki Region Infoshare was awarded a 100 000 €euro prize for public administration by the European Commission. Read more on p. 15. Helsinki made the top six in the EU Parliament’s Smart City list. Read more on p. 37. Forum Virium Helsinki tackles urban development challenges in agile development projects. What have we achieved? PHOTOS OLLI-PEKKA ORPO, SAKKE SOMERMA VISITHELSINKI 600 entries in the Apps4Finland competition. Read more on p. 22-23. 12
  13. 13. 13 The Guardian: “Helsinki, a truly smart city” A leading British newspaper, the Guardian, has praised Helsinki on two different occasions as an example of a smart city, which offers its residents tools and channels for participation and involvement. The newspaper pointed at the Helsinki pilot of European cities’ CitySDK project, which has been coordinated by Forum Virium Helsinki. “Truly smart cities such as Helsinki are using technology that is already out on the streets and on the web, enabling residents to input and update via smartphones, while apps help them to navigate the city more efficiently,” the Guardian writes. Funding from the European Union Forum Virium Helsinki is a non-profit organization. The basic funding comes from the city of Helsinki and membership fees, but the development projects are financed from various other sources. Here’s an example financing between 2006 - 2013. Forum Virium Helsinki organises a wide range of events. Their objective is to share new information and involve stakeholders in building a better city. To date, over 10 000 people have participated in events organized by Forum Virium Helsinki and its partners. Project funding (EU FP7, AAL and CIP programs, Tekes, ERDF, ESF) 48% Forum Virium Helsinki’s financing (2013) 30% 20% 2% City of Helsinki innovation fund Commissions (cities of the Helsinki Metropolitan area, Helsinki) Corporate membership fees Sample percentages are calculated from 2013 figures. Turnover (1000 €) 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 1310 1310 000 TUHATTA EUROA 1440 1440 000 TUHATTA EUROA 1460 1460 000 TUHATTA EUROA 2140 2140 000 TUHATTA EUROA 2980 2980 000 TUHATTA EUROA 3010 3010 000 TUHATTA EUROA 3210 3210 000 TUHATTA EUROA 1370 1370 000 TUHATTA EUROA
  14. 14. Opening up regional data When the City of Helsinki Real Estate Department added historic aerial photos from several decades to the service in summer 2013, geodata enthusiasts were thrilled. Over just a few days, coding-savvy citizens had built web apps, which made it possible to explore Helsinki’s development from during the war in 1943 to present day. Besides geodata enthusiasts, the historic aerial photos interested others, too. When the citizens’ web apps were soon showcased on several newspapers’ websites, the general public was amazed. This is what opening up data is all about. HRI maps out interesting data sets from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and encourages city departments to give everyone free access to them online. “We aim to make opening up data a regular activity for the municipalities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area,” says Ville Meloni from Forum Virium Helsinki. When the idea to open up municipal data in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area first came up in 2009, many saw it as no more than idealistic dabbling. Today it has become mainstream. The target is set in the government programme to open up public data sources, and other cities are getting establishing their own data catalogues. In the summer of 2013, HRI was awarded a 100 000 euro prize for public administration by the European Commission. In just a few years, the HRI service has made the Helsinki Metropolitan Area a pioneer in opening up public data. Benefits to data owners, too Opening up public data systems is also useful to the owners of that data. Helsinki Region Transport HRT, responsible for local public transport, is already reaping the benefits of having done so. A few tens of thousands invested in an open API has given everyone access to public transport routes and timetables. Transport advice is now available not just through HRT’s own Journey Planner web service, but also dozens of mobile apps using HRT’s data interface. Everyone wins in the open data operating model: public transport users get route information straight to their phones, HRT service is improved and the developers of the most popular mobile apps make money. “Had we started to develop the apps ourselves, we’d have easily spent 50 000 euro per app”, HRT project manager Jari Honkonen estimates. Now HRI’s operation model, which proved successful in the Metropolitan region, is being copied around the country. Tampere, Oulu and Jyväskylä, for example, have opened up their data catalogues. The state administration has already published a nationwide open data service (, which utilizes HRI’s tried and tested technology. HRI has been such a success story that Forum Virium Helsinki, who first got the project started, can already take a back seat. From the start of 2014, responsibility for the HRI data catalogue as well as supporting Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen officials in the data opening process was transferred to the City of Helsinki Urban Facts department. KIRJOITTAJA XXXXX VALOKUVAT PETJA PARTANEN The Helsinki Region Infoshare web service already provides free access to over 1000 open data sets. In the future, it will contain even more public data from the municipalities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. PHOTOS PETJA PARTANEN, PERTTI NISONEN In 2010, Forum Virium Helsinki hired Ville Meloni as a project manager to launch the HRI project. From the start of 2014, HRI has been integrated as part of the regular operations of Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen, led by Tanja Lahti (centre) and Hami Kekkonen from City of Helsinki Urban Facts department. 14
  15. 15. One of HRI’s achievements is the opening up of Helsinki City Group’s administrative data for everyone to use. The open interface Open Ahjo, which was unveiled in 2013, gives any resident the same access to public data as political decision makers or city officials. Only personal details are still restricted to officials. The interface, which started off as an idea at a Forum Virium Helsinki workshop, has become reality. The Helsinki City Group’s administration is now one of the most transparent decision making systems in the world. Several easy-to-use web services are already exploiting the interface. It’s possible to browse municipal decisions on the map, peruse the attachments and blueprints of decision making documents, and explore the progress of the decision making process. The 100 000 euro innovation prize from the EU is helping open data utilization gain even more momentum. Some of the prize money has been spent to finance the Datademo funding instrument. Coders have been able to apply for funds from Datademo for applications and visualizations that make use of HRI’s open data sources and promote a vibrant civil society. The prize also made it possible to hire a new application developer to the HRI service. “The cities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area have been delightfully active in opening up their data systems, but the information is not yet interlinked,” Forum Virium Helsinki’s project manager Ville Meloni explains. One of the new data specialist’s tasks will be to think about how decision making data from Helsinki’s Open Ahjo interface, for example, could work in tandem with the city’s various statistics, administrative areas, service points and financial data. ▲ The Mayor of Helsinki Jussi Pajunen gave his Achievement of the Year award to the HRI service. “Congratulations. You are pioneers on a global scale,” Pajunen praised the HRI team from Forum Virium Helsinki and City of Helsinki Urban Facts department. In just a few years, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area has become a pioneer in opening up public sector data.” The 100 000 euro EU prize speeds up the utilization of open data. HELSINKI REGION INFOSHARE (HRI) HRI gathers open data sets from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area into the and helps open up the data. Why it’s done The aim is to make opening up taxpayer-financed data sets into a regular activity for officials. Who’s involved Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo, Kauniainen. Forum Virium Helsinki launched the project in 2010, the City of Helsinki Urban Facts department took responsibility at the start of 2014. Who it serves Officials willing to open up their data, users of open data, application developers, journalists, active residents. Duration 2010– Website 1515
  16. 16. Resident feedback gets heard PHOTO PETJA PARTANEN The wet winter has eaten gaping holes into Helsinki streets. Now such problems are easier than ever to report. Metro Fiksaa (‘Metro fix it”) web service of the city newspaper Metro allows anyone to report issues and problems in the city. A sewer lid has come loose. There are potholes in the tarmac or macadam on the bikeline. A car is parked on a zebra crossing. Most issue reports are already marked green on the map to signify that they have been fixed. Only the missing speed limit sign in the Oulunkylä district is still blazing red, awaiting action. Thanks to the open API built in the CitySDK project, any proficient coder can now build a similar web service. Mobile and web applications send a specified feedback message to the city’s open programming interface. The interface, meanwhile, relays the messages directly into a city database. “Residents contact the City of Helsinki Public Works Department 120 000 times per year. The open issue reporting API not only provides new opportunities for the developers of city services, but also makes officials’ lives easier,” says City of Helsinki project planner Jaakko Rajaniemi A message about a gaping sewer lid or a fallen traffic sign gets to the right place quicker via the internet than by telephone call. Efficient feedback management Tarja Posti, responsible for the Public Works Department’s customer service, is happy. Managing feedback via the interface is easier than via telephone or email. “For issue reports, for example, we get the location information sent straight to our operations management system,” Posti says. The system also reduces duplicate issue reports. The information about a fix in progress is relayed back to the Metro website via the interface. Anyone can keep an eye on whether a issue has already been fixed. The person who has made the issue report doesn’t need to know which city department is responsible for fixing it either. When a resident who’d had enough of a traffic light not working sent a issue report via the Metro newspaper’s web service, things were quick to happen. In the next hour, the Public Works Department customer services informed that the report had been passed on to the right person. The query was answered just moments later. The yellow flashing light was on, because the programming of a new traffic light machine was being tested. “The lights will work the moment that the programming is completed, which will be very soon,” the traffic technician from the Traffic Control Centre answered. The CitySDK project builds open interfaces, which are interoperable across city and country borders. First a pilot project was conducted in one city, after which the experiences and lessons learned were utilized elsewhere. The CitySDK project develops and harmonizes open application programming interfaces (APIs), which are utilized by digital city services around Europe. Helsinki’s issue reporting API has become an export. Hanna Niemi-Hugaerts from Forum Virium Helsinki and Jaakko Rajaniemi from City of Helsinki Information Technology and Communications Division are working to make Helsinki a paradise for software developers. 16
  17. 17. Helsinki region becomes developer heaven Open data sets only become assets when they are put to good use. Since 2012, the City of Helsinki has organised regular developer meetings for exploiting HRI data sets and open interfaces as well as to provide practical support for coding. There have been up to three workshops every month. The attendees focus on a wide range of issues, from new ways that residents could use their pocket-sized Helsinki travel cards to how the city’s open data interfaces could best serve all residents. The city’s collaboration with application developers is also supported by the city’s developer website Besides showcasing the data interfaces already opened by the city, it also allows the app development community to participate in specifying and testing the open data interfaces. ”The website also has information about upcoming developer meetings and competitions aimed at developers,” Jaakko Rajaniemi from City of Helsinki Information Technology and Communications division says. The website was founded by the City of Helsinki Information Technology and Communications division and Forum Virium Helsinki. The logo says it all: Helsinki Loves Developers. “Through the collaboration of different stakeholders, Helsinki can become the world’s most developer friendly urban community,” Hanna Niemi-Hugaerts from Forum Virium Helsinki envisions. CITYSDK Eight European cities are opening up their interfaces and harmonizing their processes in three domains: participation, mobility and tourism. Helsinki pilot enables citizens to report faults in the city infrastructure through the issue reporting API built as part of a Helsinki pilot. Why it’s done By standardizing programming interfaces and leveraging replicating tried and tested services from city-to-city, the development costs of digital city services will drop dramatically. Who’s involved Helsinki, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Istanbul, Lamia, Lisbon, Manchester and Rome. The pilot in Helsinki was conducted by Forum Virium Helsinki, City of Helsinki Public Works department and the city newspaper Metro. Who it serves Citizens in Helsinki and elsewhere. Application developers around the world. Duration 2010–2014 Website We have seen how innovatively open data and interfaces are used. It’s not necessary for all the apps to be built by the city. 17
  18. 18. Helsinki’s feedback interface was launched in the summer of 2013 and soon after it was also introduced in cities like Amsterdam and Barcelona. Helsinki, meanwhile, has already launched a new tourism interface, which was originally developed to serve Lisbon’s needs. There can be excellent business opportunities for application developers, too, if the same apps work around Europe. “Make an app for Helsinki, use it in Amsterdam,” project manager Jaakko Rajaniemi explains the basic idea. This model has already been proven to work. For example the Spot in Helsinki mobile app, which took part in the Apps4Finland competition and won the City of Helsinki tourism challenge, also helps out tourists in Lisbon under the name Spot it Lisbon. The eyes and ears of the city Heli Rantanen, the project manager responsible for Helsinki’s feedback interface, says that the open API gives external app developers the chance to utilize information produced by the city. This allows them to build services the city’s IT department wouldn’t imagine possible. “We have seen how innovatively open interfaces are used. It’s not necessary for all the apps to be built by the city,” Rantanen states. There are high hopes that the new open feedback channel will also make city maintenance more efficient. When it’s easy to send feedback, the maintenance staff will find out about issues earlier. “Residents are the eyes and ears of a city. The Public Works Department won’t know there’s a fallen traffic sign if nobody tells them about it,” says Pekka Sauri, the Deputy Mayor in charge of public works. After the completion of the CitySDK project, a new network will be established to continue the harmonizing efforts. “Collaboration between cities started off well in the EU project. Next, we will include more cities and extend the harmonizing to new interfaces,” development director Pekka Koponen declares. • CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE After the completion of the project, a new network will be established to continue the harmonizing efforts. 18
  19. 19. The HRT City Navigator developed by Helsinki’s Code Fellows grabbed the gold in the mobile app category in an international hackathon in Ghent. Code Fellows as change agents Since starting their work in 2013, Helsinki’s Code Fellows have been tirelessly building the digital city, from an innovative public transport navigator and new open data interfaces to a real-time snow plough map. The next step will be to take the pilot to state administration. City of Helsinki Code Fellow Timo Tuominen is showcasing the prototype of a brand-new HRT City Navigator on the bustling Esplanadi street. “Here you can search for the nearest restaurants, for example,” Tuominen proudly explains the app he has been developing. A turn by turn navigation app, a familiar concept to drivers, is now available for public transport users for the first time. Most of the code has been written by Tuukka Hastrup, who worked as a HRT Code Fellow in 2013, but anyone can get involved in improving the open source app. I click on the map of the HRT City Navigator on the touchscreen of my mobile phone and the service instantly gives me the fastest public transport connection to my office in the Vallila district. If I start walking within half a minute, I’ll just make the next tram number 9. The first Code Fellows in the Code for Europe programme, Juha Yrjölä and Tuukka Hastrup started working at the start of 2013. The goal of the programme was to make the development of Helsinki’s IT systems more open and agile. Yrjölä worked at the City of Helsinki Information Technology and Communications division, while Hastrup was based at HRT, the public transport authority for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The duo quickly showed their potential. Agile IT development Public sector IT systems have traditionally been large, complex closed source solutions, which have been uniquely developed to match each customer’s needs. In today’s connected world, however, everyday services are increasingly based on open data interfaces and recycled code. “We want to introduce the culture of the start-up world to the public sector,” Forum Virium Helsinki’s project manager Marja Mattila describes the objectives of the Code Fellowship programme. The Code Fellows’ ways of working are commonplace in small companies but still rare in the public sector. Everyone has been able to test out the HRT City Navigator online, for example, ever since the first versions came out. Development has been based on user feedback. Jari Honkonen, responsible for HRT’s Journey Planner service, had been playing with the idea of a new kind of public transport navigator for a long time. When Forum Virium Helsinki suggested taking part in the Code Fellowship programme at the end of 2012, he immediately became enthusiastic. When HRT hired the Code Fellow, it was the first time they’d ever employed an in-house coding expert. Until then they had bought all their IT solutions from outside. “We initially thought that we would hire the Code Fellow to mainly work on the city navigator. But it didn’t take long until his remit started to expand. Thanks to his work we’ve understood that some things are much easier, faster and more efficient to do in-house than with an external supplier,” project manager Honkonen says. PHOTOS MAIJA ASTIKAINEN, VISIT HELSINKI, MONDO; PETJA PARTANEN 19
  20. 20. Support from a European network The result of a year’s work, the public test version of HRT City Navigator works brilliantly. “The fact that we hired Tuukka Hastrup to work for HRT shows how satisfied we are,” Jari Honkonen says. According to Honkonen, another important reason to test out the Code Fellow programme was the desire to experiment with new methods of public sector IT procurement. “During the year we have gained a lot more understanding of open source coding,” Honkonen claims. Code Fellows have not been working alone. Help has been at hand from a network of coders in six other European cities. The HRT City navigator app currently also works in Manchester, one of the Code for Europe cities. “We aim to develop solutions that are easy to duplicate and utilize in other cities, too,” Marja Mattila explains. The spirit of the programme is that all the Code Fellows’ work will be published as open source code. This is why you can now navigate with the HRT app in Tampere, Berlin and Amsterdam, too. “It has become a software component, which is also useful to others,” Honkonen says with a smile. Helsinki opens up decision making Ahjo Explorer, the favourite app of Jussi Pajunen, the Mayor of Helsinki, would not have happened without the efforts of Code Fellow Juha Yrjölä. Yrjölä, who worked as a Code Fellow at City of Helsinki Information Technology and Communications division in 2013, built an open interface to Ahjo, the city’s decision making system. The same interface is also used by the Päätökset (“Decisions”) service, which allows anyone to browse and search for City Council and committee decisions. Yrjölä has also finalized the so-called snow plough map, a service that shows the movements of the city’s snow ploughs in real time. The work is now continued by Timo Tuominen, sharing an office with Yrjölä. Both of them have now been hired to work for the City of Helsinki. His predecessor’s projects keep Tuominen’s hands full. He is busy opening up the city’s data interfaces and decision making. “We want to open up the initial stages of municipal decision making, too. The City Planning Department, for example, has a clear need to hear residents’ opinions from the very start of the planning process,” Tuominen highlights. Marja Mattila points out how positive experiences are inspiring the experiment to be extended. “Our new Code for Finland programme aims to take the operating model beyond Helsinki, to state administration.” The HRT City Navigator for the Helsinki Metropolitan Region leads you by the hand CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE 20
  21. 21. THE CODE FOR EUROPE CODE FELLOWSHIP The programme hires talented web developers, coders and designers to work for public sector organisations, in different kinds of departments. The results of their work are shared freely as open source code, for anyone to continue the development work. Why it’s done Change agents drive openness and make cities’ IT procurement more agile. Who’s involved Forum Virium Helsinki, the City of Helsinki Information Technology and Communications division, HRT, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Manchester and Rome. Who it serves Public sector IT departments. Duration 2013–2014 Website Some things are just much easier, faster and more efficient to do in-house than with an external supplier. Together with his colleagues, the Code Fellow Timo Tuominen has been successful in making municipal decision-making data accessible to everyone. ▼ Ahjo Explorer allows anyone to keep up to date with the City of Helsinki’s decisions via a mobile phone. The application fetches its information from the city’s decision-making system Ahjo through an open data interface. A new service map for the capital region Another challenge for the Code Fellows is to try to recreate the service map of the capital region with open source solutions. So far, their achievements include a new public transport route planner for people travelling with a pushchair or wheelchair. It includes only the options and stations that offer easy, stair-free access. “In the future the service map can be more easily utilised in the city’s various electronic services. What’s more, it can be replicated in other cities with minimal effort,” Code Fellows Tuominen and Yrjölä say. • PHOTO OKKO OINONEN 21
  22. 22. Apps4Finland rewards the best open data innovations The Finnish championship for open data innovation organized by Forum Virium Helsinki, Apps4Finland, has been rewarding the best open data apps, ideas and visualizations since 2009. The competition has brought the City of Helsinki international renown for opening up its data systems. “Home, a hundred meters to one o’clock,” says the synthetic voice from the iPhone. The 2012 winner of Apps4Finland, BlindSquare, is an indispensable help for people with the white cane. The mobile app, which helps the visually impaired to move in urban environments, provides voice guidance and walking directions to the selected destination. Recognition in the Apps4Finland competition has kick-started the commercial success of many applications based on open data. The Parkman app, a 2011 winner, now allows parking fees to be paid on the mobile phone in dozens of Nordic cities. The second version of BlindSquare knows over 20 languages. The app is in use in more than 50 countries. The next high-flyer may well be the Apps4Finland winner from 2013, Stormwind Simulator for boats. The demo of the simulator was received with heartfelt admiration in the awards ceremony. When the wooden open boat changed to a Yamarin 68C motorboat, the rocky shores of the Gulf of Finland just sped by. The panel of judges led by city councillor and open data proponent Otso Kivekäs was full of praise: ”A stunning simulator, which combines open data from various sources. It’s a great example of how apps can use open data in ways that the original data collectors would never even have imagined.” The competition concept launched by Forum Virium Helsinki and other open data proponents has proven to be popular. Over the years more than 600 apps have already taken part, and in 2014 the combined prize money exceeded 40 000 euros. “With the Apps4Finland competition we want to attract attention to developers and encourage new innovation. The competition has been an excellent way to strengthen our cooperation with both developers and companies,” says Pauliina Smeds from Forum Virium Helsinki. Today Apps4Finland is much more than just an app developers’ Finnish championship. The aim is to attract talent beyond the technology field. “We want to create problem solving communities than are unfazed by any challenge that companies or the public sector throw at them,” Joonas Pekkanen, the project manager for the 2014 competition adds. Thumbs up for Helsinki’s data sets The City of Helsinki has been successful in Apps4Finland, not just as an organizing partner, but also as a contestant. The Open Ahjo data interface won the Enable award for opening up data, created by Code Fellow Juha Yrjölä and the leading expert of the Ahjo system, Katja Räisänen. The open access to information within the municipal decision-making and document management system Ahjo, provided by the duo, is unique in the whole world. The system, which was originally meant for the city’s internal use only, can now be accessed by anyone interested in decision-making. ▼ Open Ahjo, the open data interface to City of Helsinki’s decision making system Ahjo, was given the Apps4Finland award for opening up data in 2013. Photo: The creators of the Open Ahjo interface, Juha Yrjölä and Katja Räisänen. PHOTOS OLLI-PERKKA ORPO, JYRKI KOMULAINEN 22
  23. 23. Today all the public data from Ahjo is copied automatically to the Open Ahjo programming interface. Many of the Apps4Finland applications rely on Helsinki’s open data systems. For example the Porottaa terrace spotter, which was awarded as the audience’s favourite, is a tool for finding the sunniest terrace. It fetches location data from a Public Works Department’s document that lists terraces in the public areas of Helsinki. The information is published as open data in the HRI service. One of the most widely used data sets is the first open interface ever published by the City of Helsinki, the service point register of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The register, which was initially created to serve municipal directors, contains the data about over 10 000 service points in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. The data interface to the register was opened in 2011. Today it’s already utilized by dozens of applications, including the 2012 Apps4Finland winner, BlindSquare, which guides the visually impaired on the streets of the capital region. Millions of queries are made to the interface every year. No wonder that its creator, City of Helsinki project manager Mirjam Heikkinen, won the 2011 Apps4Finland award for the best open data initiative in the public sector. In 2014, The City of Helsinki gave Apps4Finland the Pro Urbe Digitali Award for promoting digital innovation. Recognition in the Apps4Finland competition has kick-started the commercial success of many applications based on open data. ▲The project manager of Apps4Finland 2014, Joonas Pekkanen. APPS4FINLAND A yearly Finnish championship for open data, with awards for both opening up data and making the most of it. Why it’s done The competition promotes open data systems and their innovative utilization. Who’s involved Organizers: Forum Virium Helsinki and Open Knowledge Finland. The competition has also been supported by a large group of partners from the private and public sectors every year. Who it serves The owners of public data, application developers, citizens. Duration 2009– Website 23
  24. 24. Helping start-ups to conquer the world One of Forum Virium Helsinki’s success stories has been Growth Coaching which has funded experts and consultants and accelerated the growth of nearly 300 companies between 2006 and 2014. Despite the economic downturn, the companies that have participated the Growth Coaching have collected 30 million in private and public financing and employed 4500 people. Starting from 2015, the Growth Coaching has been produced by the Enterprise Helsinki, which offers advice for start-up businesses and growth businesses. Forum Virium Helsinki was the producer between 2006-2014. “The key principle of Growth Coaching was customer orientation. The application process was made as easy and undemanding as possible, also selections were made quickly”, the project manager Kaisa Sibelius explains. The chosen applicants picked which coaches’ services they wanted to use and only paid a pre-agreed share of the consultant fee. “Growth Coaching had a flexible and handy format. It definitely accelerated our internationalization and we could validate attractive markets quickly and cost effectively,” Mikael Lauharanta from Smarp Ltd describes his experience. Smarp’s tool enables companies to encourage employees to easily share web content produced by their employer, such as blog posts, job advertisements and videos, on their own social media channels. The no-nonsense operating model of the Growth Coaching has proven productive. Financial media has been actively showcasing the participating companies, like Kiosked, Nosto Solutions and Bitbar, all collecting large capital investments. Not long ago, Wired UK listed Helsinki as one of the world’s hottest start-up capitals, and spotted out Holvi (also a Growth Coaching company), as a company to watch out. “The Growth Coaching gave companies a chance to get help from people who are actively involved in business life themselves. Companies could decide whom to have as their expert coach. The most important thing in coaching start-ups is that companies feel they genuinely benefit from it,” says Mika Malin, a long-term entrepreneur and advisor for the Growth Coaching. Global financing and contacts Partnerships in three EU projects bring new financing opportunities for start-ups. “The European Union offers more flexible financial tools and growth programmes for SMEs than ever. Our aim is to help the Helsinki-based start-ups that we know well to grasp these new opportunities,” Kaisa Sibelius continues. CreatiFI gives out funding to SMEs in the creative industry to develop digital services and innovations. ACE accelerates the growth and internationalization of ICT companies, while GET is targeted at eHealth companies. “With these initiatives, we can open doors around Europe for companies, while also providing funding through CreatiFI,” project manager Jaakko Ikävalko from Forum Virium Helsinki explains. Funding for creative start-ups CreatiFI offers funding for SMEs, web entrepreneurs and ICT developers to create new applications for the creative industries with open source FIWARE “Forum Virium Helsinki offers support and funding for growth companies via several EU-funded projects, targeting for creative industries, ICT and eHealth. “We also act as a matchmaker between companies, experts and consultants,” project manager Kaisa Sibelius elaborates. PHOTOS PIA MÄSSELI, ARCTIK Forum Virium Helsinki’s CreatiFI, ACE and GET projects provide small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with tools to facilitate growth and innovation, from financing to contact networks. And for nine years already, SMEs have been able to enjoy the support of the praised Growth Coaching. 24
  25. 25. technologies. Altogether, CreatiFI will distribute 4.8 million euros in funding. The first open call chose 60 start-ups around Europe to receive money. In the upcoming year, these companies get help for business development and up to 50,000 euros grant for a prototype development. The first round brought CreatiFI over 300 applications representing a wide variety of business ideas in creative industry. The selected candidates develop internet and smart phone applications related e.g. for gaming, tourism, and smart city services. “The Finnish start-ups ruled the statistics: almost 100 applications were sent from Finland. Now the selected companies turn their business idea into a minimum viable product or a prototype”, Kaisa Sibelius explains. In September 2015, CreatiFI will open its second call. This time the money goes into commercialization of a prototype. The grant provided is up to 100,000 euros. The Call 2 is open to all European start-ups and SMEs in creative industry. For those selected in the first round, it supports developing the work further. However, also completely new companies can participate and be selected. All the applications funded by CreatiFI need to utilize FIWARE technology. FIWARE is a new open source technology platform developed by the European Union. Its components are free-to-use when developing new services and products. CreatiFI is only one of the 16 programmes that promote the utilization of FIWARE technologies. Opening doors to Europe ACE is a project opening doors and contacts for businesses to new markets in Europe. It targets the innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs in the IT sector who are looking to grow or take their business abroad. The project is taking ten Finnish companies abroad, either to Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg or Czech Republic. All in all, a maximum of 120 European companies are taking part. Forum Virium Helsinki’s task is to help companies that are interested in Finland. The project is also developing common selection processes and operating methods for European acceleration and internationalization programmes. Forum Virium Helsinki is eager to share its experiences from the Growth Coaching programme. The GET project spars eHealth start-ups in developing their business models. It also helps to find investors, establishes contacts with international partners and recognizes unfulfilled user needs in the health care industry. Besides Forum Virium Helsinki, the project involves partners from Spain, the Netherlands and Great Britain. “We’re hoping that the processes and lessons learned in our domestic Growth Coaching will be adopted internationally, too,” Kaisa Sibelius says. The European Union offers more flexible financial tools and growth programmes for SMEs than ever. GROWTH SERVICES EU projects CreatiFI, ACE and GET as well as Growth Coaching. Why it’s done Helsinki wants to be Finland’s most welcoming city for entrepreneurs and support the birth of new companies and jobs. Who’s involved CreatiFI, ACE and GET have international project consortiums. Growth Coaching has since 2015 been organised by the EnterpriseHelsinki. Between 2006-2014 it was produced by Forum Virium Helsinki and financed by the city of Helsinki’s innovation fund through EnterpriseHelsinki. Who it serves Start-ups or grown up companies. Duration 2006– Websites: 25
  26. 26. The test group of about 100 people borrowed books with a travel card in the Kallio district and in Library 10. The experiment was surprisingly popular: places filled quickly and many more people would have liked to take part. “Customers are happy when they don’t need to carry so many cards. For us library staff, too, the benefits clearly outweighed any inconvenience,” specialist librarian Janne Palander from Kallio library says. The travel card is based on chip technology. The unique serial number of the card can be read with any other device that supports the same technology, such as a smartphone. This enables the card to be compatible with libraries’ customer databases or small and larger shops’ loyalty card schemes, for example. “It took no more than a couple of weeks to set up the equipment and databases. We were quick to move from the initial ideas stage into practice,” Kalle Riiheläinen, the Service Administrator of Kallio library describes. Behind the project there’s a vision of a digital city card. In the future it could be possible to ride a tram, borrow books from the library and for example pay for museum and swimming pool visits with a single card. “It is important that we can conduct these experiments on a lighter scale. This means that we’ve been able to test functionalities and practicalities without a major initial investment,” says Development Director Pekka Koponen from Forum Virium Helsinki. The test use of the combination card was later expanded to Suomenlinna library where you could use the travel card to access the library out of hours. Other pilots were conducted in the Tapiola and Sello libraries in Espoo. Tester feedback has been collected during and after the experiment. The users praised the way public services had taken a step toward the digital age and hoped to see more payment functionalities developed in the future. One of the testers is already looking further ahead: “It would be great if the library card, the debit card, the swimming pool card, the social security card, the driving license and all the other cards could be integrated into the mobile phone. That would help get rid of so much unnecessary plastic.” In the future a digital city card may be the key to all Helsinki services. Visits to the swimming pool, bus journeys, library loans and appointments at the health care centre would all be managed with a single card. Library books with a travel card DIGITAL CITY CARD Vision: One digital city card for all Helsinki services. HRT travel card is being tested for this purpose and pilots have been run with libraries, among others. Why it’s done People want to get rid of too many cards. Tomorrow’s residents will carry their city cards on their mobile devices. Who’s involved Helsinki City Library, HRT and Forum Virium Helsinki. Who it serves Helsinki residents. Duration 2011– Website smart-city/digital-city-card PHOTO JOEL PEKARI The public transport travel card has worked well in the pilot project, but tomorrow’s digital city card may work in the mobile phone. It would be great if all cards could be integrated into the mobile phone. That would help get rid of so much unnecessary plastic. 26
  27. 27. Digital and interactive screens are an increasingly visible part of the urban landscape. In tomorrow’s Helsinki they will be used as city guides and information channels. The interactive screens are ideal for integrated, participatory campaigns as well as for media art and visualizations. Forum Virium Helsinki has been testing different kinds of wayfinding and interactive services on Clear Channel’s city screens. In the pilot projects conducted together with several city departments, the advertising screens have been used for diverse communications purposes. The development work for creating interactive services for Helsinki’s digital media channels started from the needs of tourist guidance around three years ago. Since then, city screens both outdoors and indoors have been tested for delivering interactive map and information services for tourists and residents. This interactive service at customer service points utilize open data, and city departments have also produced their own information content to the screens. “The digital wayfinding service for touchscreens fetches information from the city’s open data sources, which are also accessible for other service providers. The sources include news from the Metro newspaper and the City of Helsinki, the Linked events interface as well as public transport stop and route information from HRT,” Pekka Koponen from Forum Virium Helsinki elaborates. “A useful idea, particularly with the map services and events info being available in different languages,” the users applaud. Besides wayfinding, Forum Virium Helsinki is exploring opportunities with a broader range of interactive content. “We have produced and tested several interactive campaigns together with the city – from questionnaires to polls and participatory campaigns that activate the strollers on the streets,” project manager Kaisa Spilling says. The first interactive experiment was conducted during the Ice Hockey World Championship in 2012. Passers-by had the chance to compete in light-hearted ice-hockey themed quizzes. Later on the screens have enabled people to test their animal expertise in a quiz at Helsinki Zoo, explore the e-book services offered by the Helsinki City Library and vote in the architectural contest for the design of Helsinki Central Library. Forum Virium Helsinki and city departments are continuing their development work with media screens for both services and content. The idea is that in the future, the screens will provide residents with contextual information, serve as a feedback channel, and even offer customized information about current city events. The interactive city screens of the future might serve as a feedback channel and offer real-time personalized information about what’s happening in the city. Interactive screens complement digital wayfinding PINTA (“SURFACE”) Digital media screens offer information based on time, place, event and audience. Why it’s done The screens provide residents and tourists digital wayfinding and interactive services, and also a chance to communicate with the City of Helsinki. Who’s involved The City of Helsinki Public Works Department, HRT, Helsinki Marketing Ltd, Helsinki City Library, the City of Helsinki Information Technology and Communications division, Clear Channel and Forum Virium Helsinki. Who it serves Locals and tourists, city departments. Duration 2011–2015 Website project-areas/smart-city/pinta PHOTO SUVI KUKKONEN The city screens in central Helsinki encouraged residents to explore the e-book services of Helsinki City Library. Electronic reading recommendations were also available. 27
  28. 28. It’s the day after European elections. Before choosing their advocates, Helsinki voters would have been keen to know the attitudes of the parliament’s different political groups to issues like emission cuts for coal fired power stations. Until now taxpayers haven’t had the chance to grill candidates across country borders. In the next European elections it is already likely that the panel discussion will take place online and votes will be cast on the home computer. The D-CENT platform combines social media and digital tools. Its Facebook style profile pages for people and organizations allow documents to be shared and edited online. Calendars can be shared between users. In addition to this, the platform can be used for questionnaires and application programming. Instead of different organizations, city districts, ministries and states having their own platforms, D-CENT unites all engagement into a single network. The City of Helsinki budget, for example, could be planned together with the entire city. ”An active citizen can participate in everything from housing company issues to European-wide environmental movements, as well as propose bills to both the local municipal council and the European parliament. D-CENT brings the active citizens and organizations of different countries together,” Mia Marttiini from Forum Virium Helsinki marvels. European-wide project The D-CENT platform is currently being developed in ten organizations around Europe. The partners from Finland are Open Ministry and Forum Virium Helsinki. The project builds on existing user bases in Spain, Finland and Iceland, all countries already using the tools for direct online democracy. “The crucial thing is that the platform is not commercial but based on open source code. Developers can participate in writing code, building applications and more. The service will be decentralized with data spread on several servers across Europe. User data is not collected for advertisers or any other external registers,” says Joonas Pekkanen, an expert on open democracy. The aim is that the simplicity of the platform will draw more people than ever to actively engage in decision-making. “It is now possible to connect with people beyond neighbours and villagers to influence the community. You don’t have to participate in everything, but through D-CENT you can further your own interests and find others who share them,” Mia Marttiini distils the idea. D-CENT offers active citizens tools for direct online democracy, which enable them to reach decision makers both in their home city and in Europe. Citizen hotline to top political decision makers D-CENT Decentralized Citizens’ Engagement Technologies. Digital tools for civil society groups to organize their activities and participate in decision-making. Why it’s done D-CENT enables a genuine global democracy. Who’s involved Ten organizations from Spain, the Netherlands, Iceland, Great Britain, France and Finland (Open Ministry and Forum Virium Helsinki). Who it serves Citizens and organizations in Europe. Duration 2013–2016 Website PHOTO LAURI ROTKO, THE CITY OF HELSINKI MEDIA BANK 28
  29. 29. D-CENT gathers European citizens around the same virtual table to influence shared issues. You can now connect with people beyond neighbours and villagers to influence the community. 29
  30. 30. 30 The test lab of a smart city Helsinki City Council decided to make the Kalasatama district a model for smart city development. Kalasatama shows what the future of a witty city looks like. SMART KALASATAMA The new Kalasatama district will be built as the “Smart City” of Hel- sinki. It will be a worldwide model district for testing and developing new urban services for residents. Why it’s done Smart Kalasatama is exploring new ways to build a sustainable city and develop services that improve residents’ quality of life. The vision of Smart Kalasatama is to be so smart that it saves one hour of each resident’s time every day. In the future the solutions following this vision can be launched Helsinki-wide as well as become successful exports for companies. Who’s involved City of Helsinki Economic and Planning Centre, Forum Virium Helsinki and TEKES, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. Dozens of large and small companies are participating in the development of Smart Kalasatama together with research groups and citizens. Who it serves All citizens, the participating companies, city administration. Duration Project planning 2013-2014. Programme 2015– PHOTO JARMO ROIKO-JOKELA, THE CITY OF HELSINKI MEDIA BANK
  31. 31. 31 They worked together with SRV, the City library, Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre, Forum Virium Helsinki and the residents’ local organic food co-op to build a temporary local service center. “The Kalasatama residents were very active in using the 24/7 self-service library and gave very positive and valuable feedback of how to continue the experiment,“ managing Director Harri Paloheimo from PiggyBaggy says. “Kalasatama will become our pilot district. Together with Aalto University, we are introducing the intelligent PiggyBox delivery container for packages to be picked up and dropped off for delivery. We are also looking for a partner who’d like to test an environmentally sound way to organize home delivery to customers,” Managing Director Harri Paloheimo from PiggyBaggy says. The biggest surprise for Paloheimo was the speedy decision-making process of the City. Though often criticized for their slow response, city officials gave the land leasing decision in just two weeks. The pilot use of the container- shaped delivery point started as soon as power lines were up. “PiggyBaggy is a great example of a new type of city service, which reduces traffic, makes use of new technology and involves residents in development in order to discover the genuine needs for the service,” Veera Mustonen marvels. Successful business is also permitted in the Kalasatama experiments. “It’s absolutely necessary, in fact. The business cases need to have potential to flourish beyond the initial experiment.” This is also a prerequisite set by TEKES, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, which chose Kalasatama as the first pilot district for its Witty City Programme. Business tested in Kalasatama has to be viable for other cities, too. Testing new ways of working is easy when building a new district. For example the new online service for Kalasatama residents, (“Fishnet”) has a good chance for taking off. Every household is linked to it. Services like apartment maintenance history, a fault reporting channel and an online flea market are handy for all residents. “Launching such a service in an old district would be difficult. Here we have a chance to make it a new service to every resident.” The city is also using Kalasatama as a test district. Helsingin Energia, a local energy company, is testing a smart grid and smart metering in the area, while the future comprehensive school of Kalasatama is experimenting with new pedagogical models supported by learning technologies. Instead of traditional classrooms the school will have two large spaces, which can be flexibly divided for different kinds of teaching scenarios. The Finnish version of a smart city is already attracting attention. Mustonen has just said goodbye to a busload of foreign guests after their tour of the smart Kalasatama. “We have seen a passionate response to the new district. Companies, officials and future residents are bursting with ideas about how to develop the city. I hope we can translate all this enthusiasm into concrete actions to develop a better city.” Veera Mustonen, heading Smart Kalasatama programme, is looking out to the building site through the panoramic windows of Restaurant Vanha Kalasatama. The old dockworkers’ canteen on the top floor has a splendid view over the new city district. So far a few city blocks have been completed, with homes for a couple of thousand people. In just a few years the view will be very different: a bridge connecting the district to downtown Helsinki, 33-floor tower blocks and the population of a small Finnish town. The new Kalasatama is a Finnish example of a Smart City, an urban environment where both people and the environment thrive. New technology and data are helping to create new sustainable services for the citizens. In the city’s strategy programme Kalasatama has been named the model district for smart city development in Helsinki. “Now we need to put this theory into practice,” Mustonen says. This is exactly the goal that Forum Virium Helsinki, the workhorse of the project, has set to achieve together with residents, companies and municipal leadership. “Besides intelligent infrastructure we need the creativity of residents and companies. We organize events, and challenges to invite different stakeholders and citizens to use Kalasatama to develop their own innovations.” The City drives innovation At the Smart Kalasatama seminar the development agents of different city departments together with enterprises are visioning new solutions to be tested in Kalasatama. Architect Salla Hoppu, from the City Planning Department, is presenting the thoughts of the group focused on residents’ energy use. The group has envisioned how a fictive resident, 41-year-old Nina, could live as energy efficiently as possible in Kalasatama. “Her roof, walls and windows produce solar energy. She will the energy to take her children to day care on an electric cargo bike,” Hoppu envisions. Similar workshops are held with current and future residents. For example the new social services and health care centre, which will be built next to the Kalasatama metro station, is planned together with its future users. “Gaining insights of the customers is a good way to get ahead in planning. We are mapping residents’ needs in focus group interviews,” Veera Mustonen says. When the goals have been set, it’s time to experiment. The Smart Kalasatama programme is focusing on creating intelligent city services. Smart residents are coming up with innovative services, which make clever use of open data sources and the possibilities of new technology. “The area is being developed through experimentation,” Mustonen explains. Licence to test Yesterday’s docklands area and today’s building site is providing an ideal setting for many temporary ventures. “You can really test out everything here, the city is very flexible,” Mustonen promises. One of the experiments was the smart containers put together by PiggyBaggy, a start-up for crowdsourced logistics. Companies, officials and future residents are bursting with ideas for developing the city.
  32. 32. 32 CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE ILLUSTRATION JARMO ROIKO-JOKELA, CITY OF HELSINKI MEDIA BANK; VILLE PELTOLA’S PICTURE IBM Smart city life Head of Smart Kalasatama Programme Veera Mustonen would like to see the following five ideas from residents become reality in Kalasatama by 2020. Shared (electric) vehicles Pick up an electric car, e-bike or electrically assisted walker or a normal bike from the metro station. After you’ve parked it, it’s free for the next user. A solar panel cooperative Residents can buy shares in the production capacity of solar panels. The panels on rooftops or balconies are easy to connect to the intelligent grid. Residents can either use the electricity themselves or sell it to their neighbours. Boat share and ride Many leisure boats stand parked at the harbour for most of the summer. When these boats are shared and used for group island trips or fishing excursions, maintenance costs can be divided and more people get to enjoy maritime Helsinki. Restaurant Day every day People looking for new acquaintances could invite people to dine with them. Flexible space service Companies and residents can advertise any space for rent, from the common room of their housing company to their own living room, the school sports hall or a car repair workshop. Free spaces can be easily rented by the hour, day or month, for example as a home office.
  33. 33. 33 The in-house start-up of the City of Helsinki As a member of Forum Virium Helsinki, IBM chose Helsinki as one of the participants in its Smarter Cities Challenge project, which aimed to improve cities’ operations with the help of open data. Director of Innovation Ville Peltola thinks that there is room for much closer collaboration between IBM and the city. “We could still do much more together.” IBM is one of the member companies of Forum Virium Helsinki. The global IT giant is taking research and development very seriously. Their Director of Innovation for Finland, Ville Peltola, claims that the company already became interested in smart city development five years ago. “A couple of years ahead of its time,” Peltola says, laughing. Thanks to pioneers like Peltola, today’s smart city events by Forum Virium Helsinki and other seminar organizers are full to the brim. The Innovation Director of IBM is a familiar face in discussions about open data or the smart city. Everyone who’s met Peltola has probably heard him talk about in-house entrepreneurship within organizations. It’s essential to drive start-up culture within both large corporations and the public sector, Peltola argues. “I like to call Forum Virium Helsinki the in-house start-up of the city,” Ville Peltola says. A development unit like Forum Virium Helsinki can solve problems such as the compartmentalization of the city. When all the city’s operations from IT to water supply are organized in totally separate compartments, the big picture is often ignored in developments. “It is quite eye-opening to think about how few cities in the world have a control room in charge of the whole city, a nerve centre aware of all operations and developments. Rio de Janeiro is probably the place where this has been taken furthest so far. In Helsinki, too, we have one control room for traffic, another one for the city’s energy company and another one for public works.Peltola’s ideal city would be a single system rather than a group of compartments. “Transparency and information flow between offices would play a central role there.” The in-house start-up of the City of Helsinki has been particularly effective in opening up public data, Peltola thinks. These days many associate open data with the handy apps emerging from the Apps4Finland competitions, but Peltola believes the open data movement has potential for a whole lot more. “At its best it will initiate a huge cultural transformation,” Peltola ponders. Forum Virium Helsinki brings a culture of experimentation to the public sector, Ville Peltola says. Creating a culture of experimentation The product developers of large corporations often look enviously at the agility with which small companies grasp new ideas and try them out in practice. “We need fast experimentation in the public sector, too,” Peltola states. According to Peltola, the Code Fellows of Forum Virium Helsinki who have worked in the IT departments of HRT and the City of Helsinki provide a fine example of this. “These guys can make fast tests in a few hours, for example on what a certain digital service could look like. It is considerably easier to sell an idea when you have something concrete to show, rather than just a thought.” Besides Forum Virium Helsinki, many officials are also engaged in open-minded city development. “There are agile organizations within the city, too, which just decide to do things in a new way.” Peltola praises the libraries of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, for example, for their smooth electronic services and the rapid introduction of new services to accompany traditional lending. “Quite some time ago, at the Apps4Finland gala, we got the idea that libraries could purchase 3D-printers for customers’ use. Now anyone can come to the library to print out a 3D design. The Kutsuplus on-demand service of the Helsinki Region Transport is another world-class venture.” The Helsinki Loves Developers meeting for developers gets the thumbs up from Peltola, too. “Just opening up the data is not enough. Building a developer community is really important. This is where Helsinki is leading by example.”
  34. 34. Forum Virium Helsinki is developing the city in a new way. But what do agility and user-led development mean in practice? The anatomy of a successful development project PHOTOS: PERTTI NISONEN THE CITY OF HELSINKI MEDIA BANK; OLLI-PEKKA ORPO Developing the city operations is a challenging task. It is easy to gauge the success from how committed city officials and service users are to it. Forum Virium Helsinki, the development unit of the City of Helsinki, has gained plenty of skills and experience from its projects. “Forum Virium Helsinki has introduced the operating models of small software companies to development of city services,” says Development Director Pekka Koponen. The Helsinki Region Infoshare project is a good example of this. Ville Meloni, who used to work as the managing director of a start-up, was hired to launch and run the project. Development work can only succeed when it’s linked to the everyday work in the city organisation. The leader of the HRI project was rarely seen at the office of Forum Virium Helsinki. “Ville would usually work at the premises of City of Helsinki Urban Facts, together with city employees,” Koponen explains. Another sign of a good development project is that it’s not indefinite. When the time is right, it can be handed over. “The Helsinki Region Infoshare open data project is now looked after by City of Helsinki Urban Facts, as part of the city’s everyday operations,” Koponen highlights. Many people who work in the public sector are averse to new development projects, because they think they slow down real work. Are there any grounds for such fears about Forum Virium Helsinki’s projects? “I hope not,” CEO Jarmo Eskelinen laughs. “To us, our projects are more than just projects. We want to build a thriving, well-functioning city, and any project is a means to that end.” THE ANATOMY OF A SUCCESSFUL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT Forum Virium Helsinki’s projects are experimentation in nature. New ideas are tested together and lessons are learnt along the way. The first version of any service is released to the public as quickly as possible, after which it is developed according to user feedback. This is exactly how the Open Ahjo API was born. 1. RECOGNISE THE PROBLEM The Ahjo document management system, launched in the summer of 2011, introduced the paperless office to 5 000 City of Helsinki officials and municipal politicians. The decision-making data collected in Ahjo was all labelled as public, but the information was not accessible to citizens. Would it be possible to create an open API to the city’s document management system, in order to provide free and easy access to the data? People working for the Helsinki Region Infoshare project of Forum Virium Helsinki decided to facilitate opening up Ahjo’s data. 34
  35. 35. 35 2. COMMIT KEY PARTNERS A shared goal is the key to a successful development project. In the case of Ahjo, it was different people who were responsible for the technology, and content of the system. The leader of the HRI project gathered all the stakeholders together. Everyone around the negotiating table agreed that an open data interface would be worth the effort. An investment of few tens of thousands would create an open data interface to Ahjo, already a data system worth three million euros. At its best, the data content of Ahjo could be used in totally new ways. 3. INVOLVE USERS The aim was to launch a small project for opening up data, which would be quick to implement and as useful as possible to applications developers. The project started with an open invitation shared on social media, bringing a full house of curious people to Forum Virium Helsinki’s workshop. The three-hour session attracted a mixed crowd of officials, citizen democracy activists and IT enthusiasts. The discussion was fruitful. City officials discovered the opportunities that open municipal data would provide to data proponents. Citizen activists, on the other hand, understood why city officials couldn’t just open up public data by the click of a button. A well-organised workshop produces results. The session resulted in a concrete plan for opening up the city’s decision-making data. 4. PILOTING In Forum Virium Helsinki’s projects, the goal is to make the first version of any service public as quickly as possible. This is why the interface was ordered from Tieto, who had originally created the entire Ahjo system. With the HRI team working tirelessly behind the scenes, the key stakeholders of the Ahjo system were overjoyed. The agendas and minutes of the municipal council, board and committees were about to become open data. “The information is now available around the clock through the interface. It is no longer necessary to call or visit the registry of the City Hall,” says Katja Räisänen, the leading expert of the Ahjo system. Project implementation rarely happens without challenges. The biggest task was to ensure that confidential material, including residents’ personal information, would still remain private. Finally, in March 2013, the transparency of City of Helsinki governance took a great leap forward. The first version of the interface coded into the Ahjo system was added to the HRI data catalogue. 5. IMPROVE AND GATHER FEEDBACK Many development projects end when they actually should begin. User feedback revealed that application developers needed advanced search features to the Ahjo’s data content. The Code Fellow of the City of Helsinki, Juha Yrjölä, got down to work. His improvements changed the data interface into a more developer-friendly REST interface, which enabled searching for specific information. Yrjölä also spurred application developers on with the Päätö (‘Decisions’) web service, which made it easy to search for decisions per home district. Now municipal decisions were in a machine-readable format that was accessible via any online service. Application developers were excited by the possibilities. Soon several mobile and online applications were making use of the data content offered by the city. One of those was Ahjo Explorer, the favourite app of Mayor Jussi Pajunen.
  36. 36. Forum Virium Helsinki’s activities and vision for city development are highly international. Cities around the world will benefit from services built together on shared platforms. The Six City Strategy, co-operation strategy carried out by the six largest cities in Finland, raises a lot of interest abroad. Interoperability means savings and business opportunities If a software company develops an effective digital service for the residents of a city, it’s still small business. If a hundred cities use the same service, however, it becomes a success story. The prerequisite for duplicability is that it isn’t overwhelmingly difficult to replicate the service from one city to another. “Cities have not yet developed too many shared operating models,” Jarmo Eskelinen argues. In order to reverse this trend, Forum Virium Helsinki is strongly focused on international collaboration. The open data interface of Helsinki’s Ahjo decision-making system, for example, is an impressive achievement. It would be even more impressive if the same interface and the same mobile services worked in cities around Europe. This means amazing business opportunities. “There are only 500 000 inhabitants in Helsinki and 1.5 million in Finland’s six largest cities combined,” Eskelinen points out. For developers of digital city services, such user numbers are still small. However, once more headway is made in standardising interfaces in Helsinki’s international projects, those numbers scale up enormously. Cities have predominantly similar needs. When the most important data sets are opened in harmonized way, the same apps will work everywhere. Helsinki’s Open Ahjo decision-making interface could be replicated around the world. Open Knowledge Finland, an association that aims to make the decision-making data interface for cities into an export, shares this opinion. “It could become the standard way to share city decision-making data anywhere in the world,” Antti Poikola from Open Knowledge Finland predicts. The Helsinki Region Infoshare service (HRI) was awarded 100 000 euro in a EU competition for public services innovation. The prize money is being used to develop the service further and enhance citizens’ access to information about municipal decision-making. PHOTOS EUROPEAN UNION 2014; SAKKE SOMERMA, VISITHELSINKI 36
  37. 37. 37 Thanks to its open data credentials, Helsinki fared well in the European Parliament’s Smart City research. Smart Helsinki shines bright Forum Virium Helsinki’s international networks When the European Parliament published its research about 468 Smart City projects in Europe in early 2014, Helsinki was ranked in the top six Smart Cities, together with Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Manchester and Vienna. For city management, though, the result didn’t come as a surprise. Mayor Jussi Pajunen had understood it ever since he’d first presented Helsinki’s documents to his European colleagues with the Ahjo Explorer app. “Helsinki is a well functioning and smart city,” former Deputy Mayor Hannu Penttilä confirms. Forum Virium Helsinki’s CEO Jarmo Eskelinen agrees. “It’s easy to forget how well we’re doing on quite a few counts in Helsinki. Every city in the world is criticized for having an inflexible, bureaucratic and rigid organization. But there are some that are a little less rigid,” Eskelinen muses. What exactly propelled Helsinki to the top of Smart Cities? The research praised several of Forum Virium Helsinki’s projects. The Helsinki Region Infoshare (HRI) was called a pioneering service in the field of open municipal data. Applauds were also given to the opening up of municipal decision-making data (Open Ahjo) and the community portal for developers ( European Network of Living Labs European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) gathers the innovation communities of different countries under one roof. It’s a network promoting user-driven methods and international co- operation between living labs around the world. Since 2006, more than 300 living labs around the world have joined ENoLL, Originally European network has nowadays spread over Africa, South America and Asia. ENoLL aims to support co-creative, human- centric and user-driven research and innovation in order to better cater for people’s needs. Forum Virium Helsinki is one of the founding members of ENoLL. CEO Jarmo Eskelinen has been leading the network since 2012. EBN Network EBN is a European network of business and innovation centres, which support innovative entrepreneurs. Forum Virium Helsinki joined the network in 2013. Founded in 1984, EBN has over 200 members. EBN provides information about international projects and programmes. It helps companies in the early stages of international cooperation and in project implementation. It also acts as a lobbyist for companies. It organizes events and promotes benchmarking amongst the members. EIT ICT Labs European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is the EU’s leading technology research institution. The EIT ICT Labs operate in seven European cities. Their aim is to give rise to a dynamic European ecosystem for the ICT field and a Silicon Valley style marketplace and testing ground for new ideas. In Helsinki, the founding members of the EIT ICT Labs are Nokia, VTT and the Aalto University. Helsinki’s focus areas are intelligent spaces, service design, Green ICT & sustainable development, and wellbeing. Forum Virium Helsinki is an affiliate partner of the network. Open Knowledge Finland The Open Knowledge network, a civic organization founded in 2004, is an advocate for open access to information and data sources. Open Knowledge is the organizer of the annual Open Knowledge Festival, the world’s largest festival in its field, which was staged in Helsinki in 2012. Forum Virium Helsinki’s projects are conducted in close cooperation with the Finnish unit of the network, Open Knowledge Finland (OKFFI). The 100 000 euro prize money awarded to Helsinki Region Infoshare in an EU innovation competition 2013 was given out to open data related ideas and projects via the DataDemo funding coordinated by OKFFI.