Innovation unit developing digital services, building an open and smart Helsinki.
Forum Virium Helsinki, an innovation group for open digital services, was founded in 2006. During the years, the most significant change in our operations has been the move from the early technology led development projects to fully-fledged city development. We have a European-wide collaboration network. The digital solutions developed in our projects can be seen in Helsinki, Amsterdam and Barcelona alike. Cities around the world will benefit from services built together on shared platforms. We are an innovation unit developing digital city services, with our home base in Helsinki.
EU-funded ￼CitySDK project, now evolved into a new Connected Smart Cities Network, has enhanced city-to-city collaboration by opening up and harmonizing APIs in European cities. The Six City Strategy (6Aika), a co-operation strategy carried out by the six largest cities in Finland, is a unique opportunity to continue this work and build interoperable city services. No wonder the strategy has raised a lot of interest abroad.
At Forum Virium Helsinki, we’ve experienced our greatest successes when building bridges between the public and the private sector. Our development projects are based on the same principle: we solve public sector problems, but the solutions are often developed by private companies and residents. A good example is the award-winning Helsinki Region Infoshare. The service has driven the opening up of public sector data in the municipalities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area since 2011.
The results are impressive. Over 1000 data sets created with public funds have already been given free, open access. Today, dozens of mobile apps developed by starts-ups and enthusiastic citizens are making the most out of open data. HRI and the opening up of public sector data progressed so smoothly that Forum Virium Helsinki has already left its temporary role as an innovation partner and taken a back seat. At the start of 2014, the HRI service became part of municipalities’ regular operations.
The operating model of Forum Virium Helsinki is based on user-driven open innovation. Some talk about agile development, while others call it a culture of experimentation. Regardless of terminology, it means a significant paradigm shift in public sector operations. The role of Forum Virium Helsinki is to drive development towards a seamless service experience for citizens, which in turn allows the city to benefit from offering digital services, too.
During the years, we have also improved at what we do. Today we have a better understanding of how piloting and experiments can be transferred into being part of everyday life of city residents. To ensure that development projects continue beyond short-term pilots, our partners must benefit from the experiment. When all stakeholders are committed to a project, they are likely to end up satisfied, even if goals are not immediately achieved. What matters most is the shared journey of learning. You can find examples of our successful experiments in Building an Open City -release.
Jarmo Eskelinen, CEO, Forum Virium Helsinki
The article is published as part of the Forum Virium Helsinki´s Building an Open City -release. Read more >>
Photo: Okko Oinonen