Agile pilots are a way to develop new and functional solutions for the city in a genuine environment together with residents, businesses and various experts. We at Forum Virium Helsinki are experts on agile piloting.
Agile pilots are well-suited for developing new and innovative solutions. The pilots are a lightweight and quick way to collect user feedback from different stakeholders, as well as understanding regarding the functionality and impacts of new services and technologies.
The pilots provide cities with first-hand experience with new solutions of the future. This makes their planning and decision-making processes easier. In turn, businesses get to see how the solutions they provide work in real life and how these solutions should be developed further based on the needs of users. At best, businesses can place new services on the market, find new customers or establish new cooperation, e.g. in the form of projects. Sometimes pilot programmes also lead to corporate partnerships or other synergies between different operators.
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Agile pilot programme: same theme, different approaches
An agile pilot programme brings together several pilots related to a given theme. In the programme, pilots approach the chosen theme from different perspectives. For example, the theme can be related to autonomous mobility, ways to use the urban space or digital health services. The key aim is to increase all parties’ understanding of new services and rising technologies that are yet to enter the market, and to learn together as much as possible.
As with agile pilots, the pilot programmes are short in terms of time. They last roughly six months and include a tendering process to find businesses to cooperate with, an idea development phase, a trial period and, finally, an assessment process.
Agile piloting gaining popularity across the globe
The agile pilot programme model was originally developed as part of the Smart Kalasatama project under the Six City Strategy, in which Forum Virium Helsinki was involved. Dozens of agile pilot programmes have been implemented since then. The trials carried out in these programmes have had to do with residents’ smart everyday needs, such as those related to smart traffic, sharing economy, wellbeing and carbon footprint reduction.
The agile pilot programme model has become an established part of the toolkit used by major cities in Finland. The model has also been adopted in cities such as Stavanger in Norway and Tallinn in Estonia. It has generated international interest as well. The Smart Cities Network’s 2022 publication highlighted the model as one of the best practices in social innovation. In the spring of 2023, the model was sparred at the ministry level in the Czech Republic in the development of innovation operations.
Read more about agile piloting:
Smart Kalasatama Cookbook – Recipes for Agile Piloting (ENG) (2017) check the PDF.
Photo: Vesa Laitinen