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Second RECIPROCITY Mobility Mission in Helsinki provides a comprehensive insight into replicable Finnish smart mobility solutions

The Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council (HURC) hosted the second RECIPROCITY Mobility Mission in Helsinki, Finland from 5-7 October. More than forty participants from all over Europe gathered to learn about Finnish smart and sustainable mobility solutions and projects that could be replicated in their home cities.

The three days in Helsinki were diverse and replete with information. On the first day the participants gathered in the newly built Urban Environment Building of city of Helsinki. The building houses the Urban Environment Division responsible for city planning, the building supervision and the city’s environmental services. Welcoming words were given by the RECIPROCITY project coordinator Anne Häner from Cluster Mobility & Logistics, R-Tech GmbH, Germany. Petri Suominen, Transport Planning Manager of HURC gave a brief overview of regional planning in the Helsinki-Uusimaa Region – the largest region of Finland with more than 1.7M inhabitants which is about a third of the country’s population. The region is regarded as cool, vibrant and happy, although due to its size and large number of population it has many transportation challenges to be tackled.

Next Pihla Kuokkanen, Resource Planning Unit Manager from the City of Helsinki gave an insight in the well-functioning transport system of the City of Helsinki. She was particularly proud of the small number of car accidents and the fact that there have been no pedestrian fatalities in Helsinki during last years. Both the city of Helsinki and the surrounding Helsinki-Uusimaa region have set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2030. The main sources of emissions are heating and transport. To reduce traffic emissions, citizens are encouraged to walk or to choose low-emission transport alternatives. Investments are made in extension of tram lines and cycling lanes. Mikko Lehtonen, Project Manager at the city of Helsinki presented a review of Helsinki’s ITS Development Program which focuses on collection and utilization of traffic data, digital transport management, and the role of Helsinki in the new services and transport automation.

In the afternoon the participants went by metro to Open Innovation House at Aalto University in Espoo where Milos Mladenovic, Assistant Professor of Spatial Planning and Transport Engineering, introduced the participants with smart mobility solutions in the Aalto University campus area. Afterwards the pitches of five Aalto University spin-off companies; GIM Robotics, PARKZIA, AIVisionEye, Conveqs and Maptionnaire were presented. The participants learned about infrastructure-free and all-weather conditions solution for indoor and outdoor 3D localization of machines, wireless charging of autonomous movable robots while in moving, distance monitoring of cleanliness and air quality in shared vehicles and public transport, digital traffic twin and a digital platform that is a tool for the cities to connect with its citizens and learn their opinion about, e.g., their mobility preferences.

On the second day the participants gathered in the former Maria hospital that a few years ago was turned into the leading startup campus in the Nordics. A glimpse in smart mobility solutions was provided by Sami Sahala, Senior Smart Mobility Expert of Forum Virium Helsinki, the city of Helsinki’s innovation company that facilitates start-ups and pilots new mobility services and technologies. Juho Kostiainen from City of Helsinki introduced the Mobility Lab Helsinki (collaboration between City of Helsinki and Forum Virium Helsinki working together with different stakeholders) which is a testbed for smart mobility innovations, and gave an overview on the topical projects, e.g., traffic radars with open APIs installed in the Jätkäsaari district in the West Harbour area.

Next Marcus Nordström from MarshallAI informed how CO2 emissions are reduced by optimizing traffic lights, thus avoiding unnecessary stops of the vehicles. Atte Riihelä Senior Specialist at the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications talked about open data platform that comprises also mobility data. The topic for Renske Martijnse-Hartikka Project Manager at the Forum Virium Helsinki was autonomous vehicles in the streets of the City of Helsinki. Autonomous vehicles could be both – on the ground (delivery robots, street sweeping machines) and in the air (drones).

Aaron Koskela Mobility Digital Twin Expert and Raimo Tengvall Project Manager at the Forum Virium Helsinki shared information about the Digital twin project for mobility. As the day’s last presenter Harri Miinin Project Manager from the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences introduced the Metropolia’s Smarter Mobility Innovation Hub and their Smart Countryside Mobility project.  In the late afternoon participants headed to a short site visit on the seashore to see Callboats – electric on-demand boats – in operation.

On the last day the participants gathered in the office of the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, where Jussi Knuuttila, International Affairs Expert, briefly introduced the Helsinki Smart Region platform and also regional council’s tasks which include regional development, regional transport and land-use planning and the promotion of local and regional interests nationally and internationally. Harri Paloheimo from CoReorient presented the platform that helps businesses and consumers to adopt more efficient and convenient ways for everyday tasks with the help of their local communities, i.e., P2P platform for sharing or exchanging consumer goods, tasks and services.

The last session was a brief capacity building workshop in which the participants exchanged opinions on the Helsinki cases that could be replicated in their home cities and had more one-to-one discussions with start-ups and stakeholders.

The hosts of the Helsinki Mobility Mission event Sakari Saarinen and Ari Lainevuo from HURC thank all the participants and presenters.

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