Forum Virium Helsinki’s activities and vision for city development are highly international. Cities around the world will benefit from services built together on shared platforms.

If a software company develops an effective digital service for the residents of a city, it’s still small business. If a hundred cities use the same service, however, it becomes a success story. The prerequisite for duplicability is that it isn’t overwhelmingly difficult to replicate the service from one city to another.

“Cities have not yet developed too many shared operating models,” Mika Malin argues.

In order to reverse this trend, Forum Virium Helsinki is strongly focused on international collaboration. The open data interface of Helsinki’s Ahjo decision-making system, for example, is an impressive achievement. It would be even more impressive if the same interface and the same mobile services worked in cities around Europe. This means amazing business opportunities.

“There are only 500 000 inhabitants in Helsinki and 1.5 million in Finland’s six largest cities combined,” Malin points out.

For developers of digital city services, such user numbers are still small. However, once more headway is made in standardising interfaces in Helsinki’s international projects, those numbers scale up enormously.

Cities have predominantly similar needs. When the most important data sets are opened in harmonized way, the same apps will work everywhere. Helsinki’s Open Ahjo decision-making interface could be replicated around the world. Open Knowledge Finland, an association that aims to make the decision-making data interface for cities into an export, shares this opinion.

“It could become the standard way to share city decision-making data anywhere in the world,” Antti Poikola from Open Knowledge Finland predicts.

Smart Helsinki shines bright

When the European Parliament published its research about 468 Smart City projects in Europe in early 2014, Helsinki was ranked in the top six Smart Cities, together with Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Manchester and Vienna.

For city management, though, the result didn’t come as a surprise.

“Helsinki is a well functioning and smart city,” former Deputy Mayor Hannu Penttilä confirms.

Forum Virium Helsinki’s Mika Malin agrees. “It’s easy to forget how well we’re doing on quite a few counts in Helsinki. Every city in the world is criticized for having an inflexible, bureaucratic and rigid organization. But there are some that are a little less rigid,” Eskelinen muses.

What exactly propelled Helsinki to the top of Smart Cities? The research praised several of Forum Virium Helsinki’s projects. The Helsinki Region Infoshare (HRI) was called a pioneering service in the field of open municipal data. Applauds were also given to the opening up of municipal decision-making data (Open Ahjo) and the community portal for developers (

The original text: Petja Partanen, Tarinatakomo.

Forum Virium Helsinki's international networks

European Network of Living Labs

European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) gathers the innovation communities of different countries under one roof. It’s a network promoting user-driven methods and international co-operation between living labs around the world.

Since 2006, more than 300 living labs around the world have joined ENoLL, Originally European network has nowadays spread over Africa, South America and Asia. ENoLL aims to support co-creative, human- centric and user-driven research and innovation in order to better cater for people’s needs. Forum Virium Helsinki is one of the founding members of ENoLL.

Open & Agile Smart Cities

The global Open & Agile Smart Cities initiative accelerates adoption of common standards and principles for global smart city development. The biggest cities in Finland (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku) are all founders and close members of the network.

EIT Digital

European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is the EU’s leading technology research institution. The EIT ICT Labs operate in seven European cities. Their aim is to give rise to a dynamic European ecosystem for the ICT field and a Silicon Valley style marketplace and testing ground for new ideas.

In Finland, the founding members of the EIT Digital Helsinki Node are Nokia, VTT and the Aalto University. Helsinki’s focus areas are intelligent spaces, service design, Green ICT & sustainable development, and wellbeing. Forum Virium Helsinki is an affiliate partner of the network.

Open Knowledge Finland

The Open Knowledge network, a civic organization founded in 2004, is an advocate for open access to information and data sources. Forum Virium Helsinki’s projects are conducted in close cooperation with the Finnish unit of the network, Open Knowledge Finland.