Helsinki is known as one of the world’s leading smart mobility cities. Robot buses have been seen in public transport, low-emission callboats have glided into the Helsinki archipelago and drones have flown emergency medical supplies in the city skies.
On this page, we explain what smart mobility involves and how Forum Virium Helsinki contributes to the development of smart mobility innovations. At the bottom of the page, you will find the contact details of our smart mobility team.
What does Smart Mobility mean?
Smart mobility is part of a smart city. The aim of smart mobility is to use technology to make urban mobility smoother, safer, more accessible and more environmentally friendly. Smart mobility studies and develops all forms of mobility, from walking to cycling, from cars to water transport and from urban air mobility to public transport, not forgetting electric scooters and logistics services.
Helsinki is particularly known for its people-oriented and participatory smart city development. Many of the smart mobility innovations co-created in Forum Virium Helsinki’s pilots are now making daily life easier for urban residents across Europe. With our help, companies and research institutions have been able to use Helsinki as an innovation platform, receiving valuable feedback from the services’ end-users: the residents. Agile pilots have even led to the creation of new smart mobility companies.
Key elements of smart mobility include the collection and analysis of traffic data, as well as traffic control and optimisation, which also enable the development of autonomous mobility services. Smart mobility solutions can be implemented in transport infrastructure, such as traffic lights, road signs and road surfaces, as well as in vehicles and transport services, such as public transport and transport and logistics services.
MaaS, or Mobility as a Service
Originating in Helsinki, the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept is one of the most talked-about mobility trends in the world. People can easily buy all their mobility as a digital service, making life without a car easier. The Whim service created by the Helsinki-based company MaaS Global has already spread to countries such as the UK and Belgium. As a globally known spearhead, the MaaS concept is an example of the facilitating role that Helsinki excels in.
- Simple mobile ticket for Helsinki Island Hopping in autumn – MaaS expands to Helsinki archipelago transport
- The MaaS interface for water transport makes ticket sales more flexible
In terms of smart mobility development, one of Helsinki’s greatest strengths is open data. Helsinki is one of the most open cities in the world in terms of data. The City’s objective is that the data it produces will be the most useable and most widely used in the world by 2025. The City’s interfaces are constantly being opened, enabling external developers to develop new applications and create new business. 5G networks, which are becoming increasingly common in Finland and Helsinki, offer new possibilities for smart mobility as well.
- Does open data create better services?
- Data Catalog for smart mobility to support the development of new services
Digital Twin for Mobility
Forum Virium Helsinki is known worldwide as an active innovator of the city’s digital twin. The three-dimensional modelling of the city also creates a useful simulation tool for traffic planning. In the near future, the digital twin will help streamline traffic, maintenance, repairs and the reduction of emissions in real time. Anticipating changing conditions can help with issues such as preparing for congestion, keeping bicycle paths ploughed and improving air quality during the street dust season.
- Helsinki to test a new smart solution for street dust – sensors in street sweepers will measure the air quality on streets
- Digital Twins Hackathon boosts growth companies’ activities
Autonomous Transport and Robot Buses
Autonomous transport is a rapidly growing sector worldwide, involving vehicles that can move autonomously without a human driver. Partially autonomous vehicles are able to move autonomously in certain conditions but the driver is always responsible for steering the vehicle, whereas fully autonomous vehicles are able to move autonomously in all conditions.
The innovative nature of autonomous vehicles is based on the fact that they can help reduce traffic accidents, as they are able to react faster and more accurately than human drivers. They can communicate with each other and with the transport infrastructure, which can help reduce congestion. Furthermore, autonomous vehicles can reduce costs, as they can drive more efficiently and take advantage of shared use. Most autonomous vehicles are emission-free or low-emission.
Autonomy is most likely to become widespread in areas other than passenger cars first, as there are many variables involved in general road traffic that AI needs to be able to recognise in order to operate completely safely. Forum Virium Helsinki tested robot buses on the streets of Helsinki, making it one of the first cities to test them.
- FABULOS brings self-driving buses to the streets of Europe
- Cooperation with Forum Virium helped Finnish company Trombia, developer of the world’s first autonomous street sweeping robot, break into international markets
- Autonomous transport: 4 observations about the current situation
Urban Air Mobility and Drones
Imagine that a snake bites you or something in your snack bar causes a life-threatening allergic reaction when you are on an island or in the middle of a forest. It takes a long time to get help in places that are hard to reach. In the future, emergency medical services will have access to medical emergency drones that can also transport cortisone, an EpiPen or a first aid kit to places inaccessible by ambulance or helicopter. Passenger drones will even be able to transport doctors to the scene in the near future.
There are plans to introduce the world’s first air taxi service at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Drones do not get stuck in traffic. In addition to saving time, they also save money and reduce emissions.
Forum Virium Helsinki has supported the City of Helsinki in the preparation of its urban air mobility strategy. In our extensive EU projects (AiRMOUR and CITYAM), we have been involved in exploring the potential and challenges of medical emergency drones from many angles.
- Six cities lead the way in increasing drone usage responsibly
- Future of emergency medical services in Helsinki – a drone could save your life
Smart Maritime Mobility
Forum Virium’s experts have been promoting the Helsinki Maritime Strategy for years. We have contributed to the innovation of on-demand electric boat services that bring the city’s beautiful archipelago closer to the non-boating residents of Helsinki. In water transport, autonomous transport will become part of everyday life even faster than in road transport.
- Cooperation with Forum Virium Helsinki boosts companies: Callboats and water transport as an on-demand service
- Bout speeds up the electrification of boating – Collaboration with Forum Virium supported internationalisation
In city logistics, the final metres are often the slowest and the costliest. Street addresses alone do not always tell you exactly where the goods delivery entrances of companies or the right stairwells of large residential buildings are located. Some companies want to receive goods via an inner courtyard entrance, instead of their main entrance, and shopping centres often have their delivery entrances underground.
Transport robots could be a solution to many of these problems. In addition to this, the robots could perform other valuable tasks on their journeys, such as showing the current condition of road signs, railings and trees, or the snow conditions on pavements, to help the City target maintenance and repair efforts.
In the spring of 2023, we tested a talking delivery robot in Kalasatama that can deliver packages weighing up to 300 kg.
- Talking robot takes tools to worksites – could also deliver lunches
- New digital solutions for deliveries in cities – saving time and effort
Sustainability is one of Forum Virium’s core values and guides everything we do. One of the main goals of our projects is to co-create smart mobility innovations that improve the quality of life of urban residents and reduce the environmental impact of mobility.
- Finland’s first electric truck factory creates jobs and reduces emissions from traffic – Development sped up by mySMARTLife and eRetrofit projects
- Robot to sweep street dust in Helsinki quietly and without emissions at night
Scalable Business Activities
Helsinki has its own innovation company, Forum Virium Helsinki, which specialises in co-developing a smart city. The innovations are put into practice through businesses and the City’s different divisions. When new modes of operation and solutions are developed and tested in Helsinki, they also lead to the creation of new, globally scalable business activities.