Smart City

In a smart city, people thrive. Forum Virium Helsinki pilots new innovations to make the city even more functional and climate-friendly. The methods we have developed, which have been praised around the world, help companies test their solutions in a real urban environment.

On this page, we will tell you what a smart city is and what we, the City of Helsinki’s innovation company Forum Virium Helsinki, are doing to develop Helsinki. Below you will find information on the themes of our projects, our experiences and successes, and the contact details of our experts.

What is a smart city?

A smart city is a functional entity that utilises technology and makes its residents thrive. New and inventive solutions promote smooth and sustainable urban life and the distinctiveness of neighbourhoods. Some solutions relate to data or transport and mobility, others to the wellbeing of residents.

At Forum Virium Helsinki, we want to highlight the dual meaning of the term ‘smart city’ because a functioning city is created not only through technologies, but also through social solutions.

Urban development from Kalasatama to the suburbs

Our smart city work, which started in Helsinki’s Kalasatama, has gained a worldwide reputation and spread from one neighbourhood to several districts. Today, smart city development takes place in both newly built neighbourhoods and existing areas in need of regeneration. The inventive methods and the way of working that activates residents and other users have been preserved, as has close cooperation with the City of Helsinki.

The agile piloting model developed in Kalasatama has been a great accomplishment. It allows companies to put their smart city ideas and their functionality to the test in a real environment in order to develop their products and services. Through the pilots, new and inventive smart city solutions are constantly being discovered to make everyday life, transport and work smoother and help adapt to climate change.

The ways in which a smarter city has been developed include service robots, smart locking, new guidance solutions and easy-to-use apps for residents, to name but a few.

Carbon-neutral solutions are the foundation of all our activities

Since its early days in 2013, Forum Virium Helsinki has been promoting the City’s climate goals through a variety of bold experiments. These have included circular and sharing economy pilots, smart lighting, green infrastructure and other solutions for a sustainable future.

Among other things, we have developed green infrastructure design and circular and sharing economy solutions for housing companies together with residents, businesses, housing companies and the City.

We are doing everything we can to help Helsinki meet its 2030 carbon neutrality goal. We have piloted solutions for energy saving, low-carbon transport and climate-friendly eating. We have had successes in areas such as urban greening.

Piloting new solutions for health and social services

For years, we have worked closely with the City. Together, we have developed smart solutions for the urban environment, but also for maintenance and, in recent years, especially for health and social services. As Forum Virium Helsinki, we have been involved in bringing together care operators and companies developing technologies for care.

Various solutions have been sought for employees, rehabilitation and support for people with memory disorders, among other areas. The activities are based on employee interviews and needs assessments. As pilot sites, we have used real environments, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Examples of our pilots that have been successfully put to use include the social SARA robot and the shower robot that supports independent living.

Methods for urban developers

Over the course of ten years, we have piloted, discovered and developed services and products, but also methods. Our innovation activities have utilised a wide variety of co-creation methods that support living lab work, from anticipation to street space measuring. The agile piloting programme is a model developed by us and subsequently adopted by other cities.

You can find tried and tested tools in publications such as Co-Creating Innovative Districts and Agile Pilots Cookbook. The means of innovation are constantly evolving, which is why we encourage others to try out our methods and find new uses for them. That is what we do, too!

Check out our guides and learn more about our methods!

Photos: Vesa Laitinen

Additional information

Programme Director, Smart city Kerkko Vanhanen

Kerkko Vanhanen
Programme Director, Smart city
+358 40 596 8296