Smart traffic lights and an award for a robot bus project – Forum Virium Helsinki’s year 2022

Artikkelikuva: Smart traffic lights and an award for a robot bus project – Forum Virium Helsinki’s year 2022

The year 2022 gave us innovations for winter maintenance, circular economy in housing companies and the planning of green infrastructure. One of the projects received an award in recognition of being a particularly successful venture, while another got an honorary mention from the European Commission. 

Forum Virium Helsinki’s year is filled with dozens of piloted projects. Some of them are especially successful and are continued or become a hot topic of discussion. This year, two projects also gained outside recognition. We have listed nine projects that we feel became success stories in 2022. 

1. Award-winning robot bus project 

The Urban Transformation Summit presented the operators of the FABULOS project with an award for their good work. The project was selected as an example of successful, international cooperation. Its best practices were also written down. 

The objective of the FABULOS- project was to review how cities could utilise self-driving buses as part of public transport. To achieve this goal, a bus line operated by self-driving buses was established. In Helsinki, self-driving buses were tested between the area of Pasila and Kalasatama in summer 2020. Companies were offered a total of EUR 5.5 million in subsidies to develop a solution.

2. Experiments brought playfulness and lending services to Helsinki

Various neighbourhood-specific projects helped develop a functional, attractive and sustainable city. The Fiksu kaupunki project brought smart lighting and sensors measuring the environment to Malmi and Malminkartano. The lighting in Malmi, the colour of which residents were able to freely alter, in particular gained plenty of attention.

Shared-use services were tested in Malminkartano, Katajaharju and Leinelä in Vantaa, offering goods and commodities for residents of housing communities to borrow. In summer, the shared-use electric bikes were a great success in Leinelä. In Katajaharju, Lauttasaari, on the other hand, the residents of ten housing companies got to enjoy a lending service in the autumn, allowing them to borrow commodities such as a pressure washer, a steamer or garden games. The other piloted lending service project was continued to 2023. 

3. Method found for dismantling bottlenecks in transport

Last year, as Elisa Oyj continued the development of 5G technology we had piloted together, we saw a great example of how piloting helps increase understanding of the potential of a service and new technology and may even lead to a new service. Further development of the trial resulted in the creation of the real-time AI analytics service Supersight, which is charged for monthly and can be used in a versatile manner to analyse and count not only traffic and vehicles, but people as well, in real time and both outdoors and indoors. 

Supersight has been commissioned in locations such as The Port of Helsinki Ltd’s passenger harbours. The traffic arrangements, use of space and safety of the harbour area can be improved further with the service.

4. New tools for planning a lush city

Greenery in cities helps mitigate the effects of climate change and increases comfort and attractiveness. The easiest way to create a green city is by taking vegetation into account right from the planning stages. The now completed B.Green project developed digital early planning methods encouraging cooperation, providing support for the development of green infrastructure. 

Read more in the B.Green publication

5. Air quality measured more than a million times 

The results received about air quality in Helsinki were a hot topic in spring 2022. Between 2019 and 2021, the residents of Vallila, Jätkäsaari and Pakila measured the air quality of the breathing air in their living environment more than a million times. 

In the project, 157 volunteers were given an automated sensor. The measurements were used to determine whether the residents could be involved in air quality measurements and how reliable the results obtained by means of crowdsourcing can be. The measurements also increased the residents’ understanding of air quality and proved that the air quality in Helsinki varies depending on the area and the season. The number one cause of poor air quality is traffic. 

The measurements were part of the UIA HOPE (Urban Innovative Action – Healthy Outdoor Premises for Everyone) project. The results were published in spring 2022.

6. Smart traffic pilots continued in Jätkäsaari 

Various smart traffic and robotics pilot projects have been carried out in Jätkäsaari over the last few years. In autumn 2022, we tested technology improving traffic safety, which should reduce collisions between cars and pedestrians or cyclists. In this experiment, conducted in collaboration with Volkswagen, a GPS-based solution warned both the car driver and the pedestrian about the danger of collision. This experiment was part of the SmashHit project

Watch a video of the project

7. An honorary mention for a procurement tool

The electronic assessment tool and process developed by us gained recognition from the European Commission. The tool allows for analysis and comparison of tenders in public procurement processes. It is especially well-suited to reviewing a large amount of tenders. The tool has made the assessment and comparison of tenders as easy and agile as possible.

The working group of the European Commission’s Innovation Radar initiative selected this tool for the group of top-class innovations. The grounds for selection state that the tool offers notable opportunities for creating new markets.  

The tool has been utilised in the AI4Cities project, which promotes carbon neutrality in cities. In the summer, this project tested things such as controlling the energy use of buildings with artificial intelligence and smart traffic lights reducing unnecessary time spent waiting at a red light. 

8. The digital twin of Helsinki is evolving

The digital twin of Helsinki, i.e. a digital model of Helsinki combining its various systems, evolved in many ways in 2022. It is a kind of ‘system of systems’ that is not really a one system but rather a variety of open databases and interfaces that may even facilitate city planning in the future and help review the city’s functionality. Even now, it features many different views of the city that can be utilised by service developers, planning officers and city employees. 

In 2022, we at Forum Virium Helsinki put special focus on the digital twin for mobility. It provides a virtual representation of the traffic system, the traffic environment and traffic conditions. It is a set of multiple data sources, the purpose of which is to create links between different systems and their data content. 

As one concrete measure towards the end of the year, we looked for winter maintenance and logistics solutions that utilise data. The Digital Twins Hackathon brought together 17 teams to find solutions to maintenance challenges. 

9. Website showing swimming water temperatures attracted visitors

The temperature measurements of swimming beach waters continued in summer 2022. These measurements, which started with an IoT sensor pilot in 2020, have garnered such interest that more sensors have been installed every summer. There were 28 of them in total in 2022. The meters report the water temperature to the website every half an hour. 

In the summer, the website had as many as 3,000–6,000 visitors per day. The temperature measurements were linked to a pilot project started by Forum Virium Helsinki and the City of Helsinki’s Culture and Leisure Division in summer 2020, which tested the use of affordable IoT sensors for measuring water temperature. The sensors produce the data online every half an hour throughout the year.

Photo: Vesa Laitinen

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