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How One District in Helsinki is Improving Its Citizens Lives

Submitted by scc europe staff on March 24, 2017

In Helsinki, a new district is being built along an old commercial harbour with one goal in mind: improving the quality of citizens’ lives. When Smart Kalasatama wraps up in 2030, it will not only house 20,000 people and provide 8,000 jobs, the smart district will use technology to benefit the same citizens who are developing this data.

Read more about the benefits of an open information system and how cities like Helsinki are leading the way in terms of collaboration between citizens, government and the private sector to make neighbourhoods more liveable, with benefits for everyone involved.

The Key to a Successful Smart District
For a smart district to be successful, an Open Data policy is key. If you aren’t familiar with this term, it’s what former U.S. president Barack Obama referred to as “the new default for government information.” With open data encodings and open software interfaces, data is discoverable, accessible and ultimately usable. Now this data collected by cities and NGO’s can be used to improve smart city infrastructure, transport, living conditions and public services, benefitting institutions like hospitals and universities. One great example from Smart Kalasatama is ‘Rentapark’, a digital app for a parking space sharing service that is estimated to reduce traffic by 30 percent and CO2 emissions by 10 percent. 

Solving Real City Challenges
Smart Kalasatama is buying 15-20 small pilots (between 1,000€ and 8,000€ each) designed to tackle different city challenges that are tested in real life settings with the help of the district’s citizens. If your city is looking to bring innovative services to its citizens in similar ways, initial concepts can be as simple as reducing food waste or electric car charging. By opening the program up for project ideas from start-ups, as well as associations and larger companies, the entire community gets involved and helps drive this creative process.

Where to Start
The integration of an Open Data policy to develop Smart District applications and projects is just one way to provide a meaningful connection with your citizens. To get started on the Smart City Path, start checking off goals, or “targets” as we like to call them, that will help you make two key decisions: where you want to end up and where you should start. In the chapter ‘Universal’ of the Readiness Guide, you will find 17 universal targets that apply to every city responsibility and lead to life-changing benefits for citizens.