Helsinki, together with leading smart cities, developed markets for everyday IoT services to facilitate urban life during the three-year SynchroniCity project. The project also developed a technical framework open to data and independent of suppliers, which would operate as a basis for the market. This also worked to create a foundation for scaling good local solutions to a wider market across city and silo borders.
Companies participated in the project by piloting smart solutions in authentic usage environments in cities. A total of four pilots were implemented in Helsinki. You can read more about them here (in Finnish). The scalability of the solutions was tested successfully with the help of partner cities and the pilots implemented in them.
Partners, duration and funding
Eight European cities participated in the project: Antwerp, Carouge, Eindhoven, Helsinki, Manchester, Milan, Porto and Santander. In addition to European cities, cities in Mexico, the USA, South Korea and Brazil also participated in the project.
More than 34 organisations consisting of public operators, associations and academic institutions were involved in SynchroniCity. The project had a budget of EUR 16.5 million and it was implemented in 2017–19 as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. Forum Virium Helsinki contributed EUR 600,000 to the funding.
The Role of Forum Virium Helsinki
The most important contributions by Forum Virium Helsinki in realising the objectives of the project were to provide the Helsinki Smart City Data platform and support for four pilots as well as implement the clean air route planner as a pilot application. The planner enhanced the existing route planner with air quality data for the city. FVH also coordinated the implementation projects in project cities and collected the lessons learned.
Key achievements of the project
The project developed an architectural framework for processing Smart City data with the related Minimal Interoperability Mechanisms (OASC MIMs) and identified their further development needs, such as data ownership, i.e. MyData, and fair AI. The project strengthened Helsinki’s status as and expertise in promoting residents’ ownership of their data, MyData. Helsinki’s work in the field will continue even after the project. The project furthered the development of data markets through piloting and verified the functionality of the framework. The reference cities implemented their own trials, and 50 SMEs were able to demonstrate the scalability of the architecture by utilising urban data in pilots in 21 cities. The project generated ecosystems to support different operators and promote their businesses.
Forum Virum Helsinki learned about the potential applications of city data and identified some issues related to the quality and quantity of data itself. One key takeaway is also the fact that data security regulations are interpreted quite differently by different parties. The project showed the central role of shared data models and reference architecture in terms of transferring and scaling solutions. In practice, we learned that practical issues with implementing solutions, such as sensor placement and their power supply, proved surprisingly challenging and required local solutions.
Benefits for Helsinki
The project created a foundation for a data marketplace, in which open data offered by Helsinki provides companies with opportunities to create new business activities. The project found that real-time IoT data was relatively scarcely available in Helsinki, albeit the data was very open. The current solutions are usually centralised comprehensive solutions that have produced a limited number of supplier and utiliser ecosystems. The pilots showed that innovations by SMEs would have a better chance of success if there were more data available in the future. The challenges related to private data showed that awareness and discussion on data use remain important going forward. This work will continue in Helsinki, as the City remains an active representative of the MyData movement. The project, implemented in cooperation by eight European cities, strengthened Helsinki’s competence in large-scale European Union projects and increased intercity sharing, as well as enhancing cooperation between OASC cities in their shared interest in creating a data market. The creation of a foundation for the data market, which was initiated during the project, is also part of Helsinki’s data strategy.
Project website https://synchronicity-iot.eu/