Helsinki has been ranked one of the top three smart cities in the world in the Smart City Index 2020, published on 17 September. The capital of Finland is joined by Singapore and Zurich in the top three, moving up to second position from eighth place year-on-year in a time when many European cities among the 109 total cities in the ranking lost ground.
The Smart City Index ranks cities based on economic and technological data, as well as residents’ perceptions of how smart their city is in its operations. In April-May 2020, hundreds of city-dwellers in the participating cities responded to a survey to assess their hometown in five key areas: health and safety, transportation, activities, opportunities and governance.
This year’s comparison reflects the different approaches and starting points cities continue to have when it comes to leveraging technology. This is also apparent in local management of the coronavirus epidemic, as cities that are farther advanced in their use of technology have tended to cope better with the pandemic situation and its ramifications.
“Helsinki’s goal is to be the most functional city in the world. Our success in this new ranking shows that we are moving determinedly in the right direction. The results also indicate how the importance of technology utilisation in cities has grown during the coronavirus epidemic, in a way that will likely remain permanent. In Helsinki, we are striving continuously to confront challenges to this situation, such as preventing inequality and marginalisation,” says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.
The City of Helsinki has made a long-term investment in developing as a smart city. The Innovations and New Experiments unit of the Economic Development division develops the city as a suitable testbed environment for companies and promotes the region’s extensive ecosystem to foster innovation and business activities. The city’s innovation company Forum Virium Helsinki co-creates digital and data-based urban solutions of the future. The city also works closely to develop its services comprehensively with businesses, scientific communities and residents.
“We have improved Helsinki Smart City systematically for years in co-operation with companies, universities and citizens. The funding from European Union’s innovation programmes has been crucial in achieving this success. We wish to share our learnings across the Europe and further develop Helsinki into the most functional city in the world”, Forum Virium Helsinki Managing Diredtor Mika Malin says.
All of the digitalisation progress of the City of Helsinki can be monitored on the Digital Helsinki website, where news, events, objectives and practical tasks associated with the digital development of the city are gathered.
“The goal of Helsinki’s ambitious digitalisation programme is to be a city that anticipates people’s need for services on their terms. Over the last few years, we have launched several digitalisation projects that are related to the development of services, as well as the city’s development of its cultural, organisational, leadership and staff competencies,” says Mikko Rusama, Helsinki’s chief digital officer.
The Smart City Index was first published in 2019, and is the product of an independent academic group, The Institute for Management Development IMD, in collaboration with the Singapore University for Technology and Design SUTD.
Photo: Julia Kivelä
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