How Agile Pilots help developing urban services – KuntoKaverit and Auntie brought wellbeing for Kalasatama

During fall 2016 Smart Kalasatama’s agile pilots developed new smart local services for citizens with the residents in Kalasatama. The Programme for Agile Piloting helps to accelerate new concepts into service innovations and new business. The first round of pilots ran during spring 2016.

The second round of agile pilots focused on innovative local wellbeing services and was run in collaboration with the City of Helsinki Department of Social Services and Healthcare. The collaboration is especially relevant for the development of the services in the district of Kalasatama, as the new wellbeing and healthcare center of the City of Helsinki, opening in 2018. The development of the service offering for the new center is under process. During the programme for Agile piloting, the focus was to create new services which would support the offering of the Kalasatama wellbeing and healthcare center. Two pilots –FitFriends (Kuntokaverit) and Auntie – were selected from the 37 offers submitted. The pilots were carried out during autumn 2016.

The new Wellbeing and healthcare Center opens in Kalasatama in 2018


New insights for the City

The City of Helsinki Department of Social Services and Healthcare was closely involved in choosing and running the pilots, together with Forum Virium Helsinki and other mediator parties. Helsinki city gained practical experience on co-creation and agile service development with companies in a Living Lab environment. The pilot activities brought the professionals from social and healthcare department insight on co-creation, experimentation and lean service creation. ”We want to offer the companies the possibility to get a better understanding of the needs of the City. This way the solutions that are developed can better support and complement the City’s own service offering. The experiences from this autumn gave us new insight on developing digital health and wellbeing services”, explained Sanna Hartman, Business Development Advisor for the City of Helsinki.

New model for increasing physical activity and participation

FitFriends pilot experimented a new model of a neighbourhood level exercise group. The aim was to to increase physical activity, exercise and participation of seniors by combining peer coaching and technology. The pilot was executed by Rehabilitation Foundation (Kuntoutussäätiö) and Movendos providing digital tools to support coaching. The service model was developed further during the piloting with the residents of Kalasatama. 25 seniors from the neighbourhood participated, three of them as peer coaches.

The peer-coaches and FitFriends team met the first time in September 2016.

During the pilot, one perspective was to test, how digital tools could support seniors to get more physical activity. Movendos mCoaching-tool has previously been used between an expert (e.g. physiotherapist) and their customer. The agile pilot made use of the tool in a new context – between a peer coach and another senior.

The seniors gave a lot of feedback about the model and used the tool in novel ways: it proved also to be a good way of communicating with others. The peer coaches used it to give positive feedback for the participants. It was also used to provide a “sense of belonging” to the group e.g. by casting a challenge to other group members, and sharing additional information about possible exercises.

Agile pilot in Kalasatama was the first time that Movendos mCoach was used for peer-to-peer coaching, explained Paula Mäkeläinen from Movendos in the co-creation workshop.


In the end of the pilot, a co-creation workshop was held with the users. The focus was especially to develop new ways to involve the whole neighbourhood, as well as identifying how to support the peer coaches. The peer coaches are central for the service model and help to keep the costs down. The digital tool provided support for the group activities as well as for the coaches. However, more work remains for the business model for the service, when used for peer groups. As the peer coaches and the participants were keen to extend FitFriends pilot, one group will continue until summer 2017 and one intensive course will be held. The focus is on the operational model: how to organize and find sustainable means of financing for this kind of activities?

Easy access tools to tackle difficult situations and life crisis

Auntie Solutions aims to prevent serious mental problems by easy access tools and help to tackle most common life crisis. In Kalasatama, Auntie experimented with different service packages for gaining understanding on user experience and the effectivity of different digital channels. The aim was to learn about possible user groups, and get feedback on different channels (video call and chat) used for therapy.

Auntie offers easy access therapies – even with a humorous twist!

Auntie managed to do many “small sprints” during the pilot, to focus on different aspects each time. They spoke with members of the local family club and conducted a survey on people’s attitudes towards the service. The survey that reached over 90 respondents in a short time. Two different services were tested during the pilot:

  • Free chat therapy (with themes: “Did I grow a monster” and “Loveboat sinking”)
  • AuntieSessions therapy package via video call (with a lower cost)

The pilot produced new knowledge on different user groups, especially parents of small children, and fresh experiences from the new service packages. Auntie learned about the ways that the target groups would like to communicate with the therapists, and also got feedback on what kind of issues and themes would be interesting to discuss about. They also got a great feedback from the therapist, who started the pilot still a bit doubtful of its effectiveness – and were completely changing their mind. They learned how anonymous chat offers a very different channel for discussing difficult themes, and can sometimes help those seeking for support, to start talking about the problem much faster than in face-to-face conversations.

Mervi Lamminen, the matron of Auntie, shared their experiences in the co-creation workshop

A co-creation workshop was organized in the end of the pilot period. The service designers from Laurea University of Applied Sciences contributed in facilitating the workshop where the team from Auntie gathered the collaborators from their ecosystem, healthcare professionals from the city, as well as other stakeholders to discuss the learnings of the pilot and the future of digital, easy-access services for mental health and wellbeing. In addition to the new chat service, Auntie’s own processes and the partner network were developed in a lean way. 

Making use of Smart Kalasatama Living Lab

The Agile Piloting program supports the development of early prototypes and service concepts towards service innovations. The program is facilitated by the Living Lab team. The team supports companies in taking the service to the real environment.

The Smart Kalasatama Living Lab has a facilitated process for pushing the pilots and arranging supporting activities such as kick-off, user and co-creation workshops during the pilot. It has also helped pilots to reach the right user groups.  For documenting the pilots, the start discussions are important and during the period of 6 months the pilot teams report in the middle and in the end of the pilot. 

Two local pilots focusing on both sides of wellbeing – physical and mental – opened the discussion of how the local services can support wellbeing. The agile piloting program also started a co-creation process for developing services for wellbeing in the context of the new wellbeing and healthcare center. This process brought together the cross-disciplinary professionals from the city and third sector, citizens, the companies, and research. We learnt once again that bringing people together is essential for a smart and happy city.

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