More than half of the world’s people live in urban areas. Governments worldwide are supporting urbanization to enable economic growth, but they need to change the concept of urban planning and functioning. So, government agencies are teaming up with private companies to develop smart cities, which enable the seamless management of energy, water, transportation, health and education.
Also at the other front, city planners and citizens are gearing up for the 70 percent of the world’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050. It will require commitment, consistency, community and collaboration between all public and private stakeholders – that’s why we are looking at Smart Cities and districts, like Kalasatama for solutions.
“We see the participation of citizens as extremely important in shaping a smart city”, says Veera Mustonen, Smart Kalasatama’s programme director
Smart Urban development in Asia has recently taken leaps towards similar development. In 2014 Singapore launched a unique Smart Nation programme through which a vast network of sensors and cameras has been set up around this densely populated island city state to monitor flows of people and traffic and in 2016 first driverless taxis started roaming the streets.
Singapore as many others have visited Smart Kalasatama to benchmark our collaboration with citizens and the district of Kalasatama. This Autumn, city of Helsinki is sending a hundred head strong delegation led by mayor Jan Vapaavuori to Singapore. Sharing ideas and modules is a strong factor in making cities smarter.
Why to build a 25/7 city?
In 2009, Kalasatama didn’t exist. That year, Helsinki planners decided they needed a smart city district for pilot projects — a neighbourhood purpose-built to supply proof of concept. Today, the area is a work in progress, but the progress has been prodigious. By the time it is completed in the 2030s, the district will have created 10,000 jobs and contain 200 football fields-worth of new housing.
“Since time is perhaps the most precious resource for people, our vision is that in addition to saving on resources like energy, we can save residents hour a day, by making it easier for them to get around, and providing them with services at home or within easy reach”, explains Mustonen.
Citizens are already benefiting from innovations like shared electric cars, the ability to control their domestic environment remotely, and a pneumatic waste collection system that sucks bags of sorted household waste through pipelines to a central collection system. Last spring there were experiments to improve flexible parking, on how to use energy data more efficiently and how we can make ecological ways of living to be more time saving.
Smart Kalasatama is now an active city innovation platform, where new solutions can be developed and tested in a living urban environment. The next steps for Kalasatama are planned literally as this story is released. So stay tuned for the follow up!
Forum Virium Helsinki coordinates Smart Kalasatama project. Forum Virium Helsinki is an innovation unit within the Helsinki City Group. It develops new digital services and urban innovations in cooperation with companies, the City of Helsinki, other public sector organizations, and Helsinki residents.