Forum Virium Helsinki is developing the city in a new way. But what do agility and user-led development mean in practice?
Developing the city operations is a challenging task. It is easy to gauge the success from how committed city officials and service users are to it.
Forum Virium Helsinki, the development unit of the City of Helsinki, has gained plenty of skills and experience from its projects over the years.
“Forum Virium Helsinki has introduced the operating models of small software companies to development of city services,” says Development Director Pekka Koponen. The Helsinki Region Infoshare project is a good example of this. Ville Meloni, who used to work as the managing director of a start-up, was hired to launch and run the project.
Development work can only succeed when it’s linked to the everyday work in the city organisation. The leader of the HRI project was rarely seen at the office of Forum Virium Helsinki.
“Ville would usually work at the premises of City of Helsinki Urban Facts, together with city employees,” Koponen explains.
Another sign of a good development project is that it’s not indefinite. When the time is right, it can be handed over.
“The Helsinki Region Infoshare open data project is now looked after by City of Helsinki Urban Facts, as part of the city’s everyday operations,” Koponen highlights.
Many people who work in the public sector are averse to new development projects, because they think they slow down real work. Are there any grounds for such fears about Forum Virium Helsinki’s projects?
“I hope not,” Mika Malin laughs.
“To us, our projects are more than just projects. We want to build a thriving, well-functioning city, and any project is a means to that end.”