Interviewing the new Chair of Forum Virium Helsinki’s Board of Directors, City of Helsinki Chief Digital Officer Hannu Heikkinen. He assumed the position of the City’s Chief Digital Officer in August 2023.
Were you already familiar with Forum Virium Helsinki?
“Yes, while working as director of technology at HSL Helsinki Region Transport, we often engaged in discussion with Forum Virium about project opportunities related to smart mobility. Due to my position, I was also a member of the board of ITS Finland at the time. I saw a number of employees transfer from Forum Virium to HSL and vice versa.”
What are your expectations regarding working with Forum Virium Helsinki?
“As chair of the Board of Directors, Forum Virium’s success is naturally of utmost importance to me. As chair and the Chief Digital Officer of Helsinki, I can help build a stronger connection between the company and the City. The company’s role as a promoter of innovation activities is also very interesting to me personally. After all, I am an incurable technology enthusiast and hobbyist myself.”
How will the City’s digital services develop in the near future?
“The digitalisation of the City is constantly advancing, as is the digitalisation of society as a whole. While we may be able to stand out as a city with some individual new operating methods enabled by digitalisation or through the utilisation of new technologies, the most important thing is for us to be able to constantly renew the City’s basic capabilities.
It is important to maintain a sufficient level of competence, renew operating processes to make them compatible with digital practices and introduce new technologies wisely in those areas where doing so provides the greatest benefits.”
How is technology being utilised to make Helsinki more sustainable?
“The utilisation of technology is often thought to be at the heart of promoting sustainable development, but most often it is actually about us people changing our behaviour to make ourselves less of a burden on the environment.
Reducing travel with remote meetings is, in my opinion, a good example of something that we already had the technology for, but that also required us to significantly change our attitude and operating methods. In other words, in the end it always comes down to us people, with technology only being an enabler.”
What characterises a good innovation?
“A good innovation aims to solve an existing, notable problem. The innovation process creates know-how and new understanding of how to solve the problem, even if the innovation itself is not initially perfect.”
What would you like to say to conclude the interview?
“Innovation, experimentation and learning are sources of economic growth and well-being for society as a whole. I hope that Forum Virium has the courage to look far into the future and, by way of example, encourage others to do so as well.”
We would like to bid Hannu a warm welcome to Forum Virium’s Board of Directors!
Photo: Satu Mali