Wouldn’t it be handy if, upon arrival to a new city, you could find out the best route to your destination and pay for your commuting fare with your mobile phone, just as you do in your home town? And shouldn’t it be easy for a company that has already developed a working application in Helsinki to offer their solution to other European cities as well?

These are the goals of CitySDK (City Service Development Kit), an initiative started in January 2012.  The enterprise will be executed by Forum Virium Helsinki, The City of Helsinki and Sanoma Kaupunkilehdet (Sanoma Free Sheets) together with a global cooperation network, and their task is to put together a toolkit for the development of urban digital services.

The toolkit being developed by the CitySDK initiative will include open and mutually compatible digital service interfaces as well as processes, instructions and usability standards. When developing their services, with the aid of the toolkit the cities will be able to utilize even more effectively the know-how within the developer community. The community consists of private persons as well as companies of all sizes.

IT Director Markku Raitio: why is CitySDK such an important initiative for The City of Helsinki?
– The enterprise utilizes in a very practical way the entire urban community’s innovation capacity in developing both brand new and already existing services for the citizens. Our goal is to engage individual application developers and citizens as well as businesses in solving future challenges. We offer new, open interfaces for the service developers, and help them by easing their way towards global operations. Harmonizing the existing open digital interfaces of cities is one of the means towards  this.

EU Coordinator Marja Mattila: What is the goal of the CitySDK initiative and who are the participants?
– The initiative focuses on three themes: resident involvement, transport and tourism. Our goal is to create open interfaces readily compatible in different European countries and cities. In practice this means that in the future, a Finnish operator could work, e.g., in developing  an application based on public transport time tables for the citizens of Helsinki and Barcelona simultaneously.

– Within each of the three theme areas, we will first execute a spearhead pilot in one city. The experiences of the pilot will then be applied to future projects. In Helsinki, the theme is resident involvement. The pilot project for transport will be executed in Amsterdam, while Lisbon was chosen for the tourism pilot.

Forum Virium Helsinki acts as the coordinator in the CitySDK initiative. The enterprise will be carried out in close cooperation with various cities, businesses and expert organisations as well as universities. Also, one of the key factors in the project is the participation of developer communities. This will secure us the possibility of utilising open interfaces even after the initiative has ended.

Project manager Hanna Niemi-Hugaerts: what kind of services are being piloted in Helsinki through the theme of resident participation?
– We are bringing the City’s feedback channels closer to the residents in cooperation with the City of Helsinki’s Public Works Department and Sanoma Kaupunkilehdet (Sanoma Free Sheets). Our vision is to develop Sanoma Publishers’ free sheets internet site to act as a feedback portal that residents can use to report a hole on a road, for example. The information will then be passed on to the right department – in this case, the Public Works. Citizens don’t have to spend time looking through the City’s official portal to find the official form for reporting such an issue.

Similar solutions are already in use abroad, but they are not usually connected to the cities’ own systems. In such cases, it is possible that the feedback is lost somewhere along the line, or that the feedback route consists of too many unnecessary operators. 

– The pilot is connected to the execution of the City of Helsinki’s unified feedback system. The system, which will launch in early 2013, will collect all feedback from various channels and redirect it to the right department within the City. 

Alongside Helsinki, Amsterdam and Lisbon, CitySDK initiative is also piloted in Barcelona, Istanbul, Lamia, Manchester and Rome. Apart from the cities, the enterprise also includes 15 business and research partners. The initiative body has been prepared in cooperation with Culminatum Innovation, and the entire budget for the enterprise is approx. 6.8 million Euros. The funding for the project comes from the European Commission’s CIP program. Forum Virium Helsinki is in charge of the coordination of the EU project. The duration of the initiative is 30 months.

Text: Pauliina Smeds and Maija Jokiniemi

For more information, please contact

Marja Mattila
EU Coordinator
CitySDK
Forum Virium Helsinki
tel. +358 40 7440067
marja.mattila(at)forumvirium.fi