Minna Torppa is taking over the Smart Mobility team at the start of October. Pekka Koponen, her predecessor, will also continue at Forum Virium, focusing on mobility data and the City of Helsinki’s digital twin.
Minna, tell us about your background. What kind of things have you worked on at Forum Virium Helsinki?
For the past eight years, I worked on 6Aika, the Six City Strategy. The position was very interesting, providing perspectives on the sustainable urban development needs and challenges of the six largest cities in Finland and opportunities to learn about co-creation and a variety of other topics. The programme included a total of 64 projects, the themes of which ranged from smart mobility to learning, employment and the energy sector. I first started at Forum Virium back in 2009, working on the healthcare and social welfare development programme.
What kind of factors are currently influencing the development of smart mobility at Forum Virium?
Climate change and the energy crisis are creating immense pressure to find solutions for a more energy-efficient everyday life with reduced emissions. Helsinki is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2030, and the transformation of mobility and logistics play an important role in reducing emissions. The achievement of the carbon neutrality objective is being accelerated by new technologies, data and digitalisation. For example, vehicles are already generating massive amounts of data that can support analyses and decision-making.
Behavioural change plays a crucial part as well. What matters most from the perspective of residents is the smoothness and safety of mobility. Changing familiar habits and routines may be difficult, but it can be facilitated by working together with residents to develop solutions that are easy to use and fit into people’s daily lives.
What are the strengths of Forum Virium’s Smart Mobility team?
We have a group of top-class experts with various educational backgrounds, competence areas and interests. And very extensive networks with different stakeholders.
What is your favourite mode of transport?
Electric biking offers a nice combination of swift mobility, fresh air and an appropriate amount of exercise.
Pekka, you will be assuming another role at Forum Virium, but what kind of role?
I will be focusing on mobility data and the city’s digital twin from now on. In my new specialist role, I will also be able to continue linking development projects to each other and promoting international cooperation and standards. The new role will allow me to leverage my extensive experience and networks for precision strikes, wall-breaking projects, or in other words promote more comprehensive transformation through example implementations.
The digital twin concept connects services and the city’s functions through data mobility and promotes digitalisation breakthroughs in the transport sector as well. If successful, it will lead to better services and even influence city planning. It is this potential that drives my own efforts.
What did you learn in your previous role?
Starting new things and building teams is my passion, but serving as a supervisor takes a lot of energy. Being able to spend over ten years learning together with a very capable team was an exceptional opportunity for me. With a team of up to 15 people, we carried out groundbreaking pilots and had to familiarise ourselves with an extensive range of subjects, from robot buses to the organisations of European cities. Working at Forum Virium means constant learning and training, and few places in the world have provided opportunities to gain this much insight into the transformation of mobility.
How do you feel about assuming the new role?
I am endlessly curious by nature and already looking forward to seeing how I will be able to promote the things important to me in the role of a specialist without a team to manage. The decision feels right, because managing such a wide range of tasks has been taxing, whereas now I will have the opportunity to focus and dig deeper. I am very proud of the team and their expertise, so now is the right time to move on. The new role is sure to provide me with renewed energy and vigour.