Smart mobility in Helsinki

Wednesday, 10 April, 2024

Smart mobility in Helsinki

Helsinki is beating the world in smart mobility, according to the Urban Mobility Readiness Index report by the Oliver Wyman Forum and the University of California, Berkeley. The report ranks 65 cities in different continents based on their preparedness to face future mobility challenges. In 2023 Helsinki came out on top, followed by Amsterdam, Stockholm and San Francisco.

The aim of smart mobility is to use technology to make urban mobility smoother and safer, reduce emissions and create preconditions for new business.

Helsinki has been recognised for its smart mobility since 2014, when the mobility-as-a-service ideology created in the Finnish capital gained traction internationally. Forum Virium Helsinki, the City of Helsinki’s innovation company, has been promoting the city’s smart mobility solutions for several years.

Minna Torppa, the Programme Manager of Forum Virium’s smart mobility, said that a key reason for Helsinki’s success is the agile use of the city as a test platform for new solutions and fast pilots.

Helsinki has been at the forefront of using simulations in order to test potential mobility scenarios. It is a pioneer in the development of the digital twin of mobility. This type of digital twin provides a virtual representation of the traffic system and its environment and conditions. It is made up of multiple data sources whose purpose is to create links between different systems and their data content.

Autonomous transport, air mobility and maintenance robots

The report praised Helsinki for preparing for the autonomous transport of the future. Robot buses, now trending around the world, were piloted in Forum Virium’s projects years ago. Callboats, reportedly the world’s first autonomous on-demand boat, was selected by Time magazine for its Best Inventions of 2023 list.

Helsinki is also an innovator in urban air mobility, systematically building its own urban air mobility model based on experiences gained through Forum Virium’s various projects. These projects have promoted the commissioning of emergency medical drones and rescue drones, in particular.

“Automated urban air mobility will be just as revolutionary as the first flight of the Wright brothers,” said Christina Suomi, the Unit Manager of the Urban Environment Division of Helsinki.

Autonomous package delivery robots and work machinery — such as an autonomous street-sweeping robot and maintenance robots — are also part of the Forum Virium smart mobility package.

EVs and safe cycling

The report recognised Helsinki’s contribution to well-functioning transport infrastructure as well as charging infrastructure for electric cars. New cycle lanes and rail networks are constantly being built in the city. As part of its transport data collection, Forum Virium studies the efficiency and safety of cycling using tools such as LiDAR (light detection and ranging).

Helsinki has approximately 2000 public charging points for electric cars, some 200 of which are placed along the streets. Forum Virium has made regional vehicle register data available to the city in order to improve streetside charging in line with demand.

Top image credit: Andreev

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