The smart kalasatama is a city development programme coordinated by Helsinki’s innovation unit: Forum Virium Helsinki. It uses co-creation that engages citizens, companies, city officials and researchers already from the early stages in order to identify development needs and to better solutions that enhance social cohesion and engagement. The funding for this programme comes from Business Finland, the city of Helsinki and from Finland’s Six City Strategy, which is a programme for the six biggest cities in Finland.

The smart kalasamata development programme’s process can be divided into three platforms: innovator’s club, smart solutions and agile piloting programme. Innovator’s club brings all the relevant actors together that are involved in the development. Main stakeholders include city officials, researchers, non-governmental organisations, various companies like start-ups, SMEs and larger businesses as well as residents and citizens. Smart solutions acts as a platform where citizens can participate and give feedback to the associated bigger development projects. One example of this are smart energy solutions for homes and another example is a school utilised as a living lab. The agile piloting project procures small pilots. All these solutions are developed and tested in cooperation with the residents. 

Image:  © Veera Mustonen, City of Helsinki 

So far, the smart kalasatama has succeeded in getting nearly one third of the 3000 residents and more than 100 businesses to participate in the development of the district. On top of that, over 1500 visitors from over 100 countries have visited the district to learn especially about the citizen inclusion aspect. In addition, the companies and city developers have been able to test and pilot their services and products, and to collect valuable user feedback and references. The agile piloting programme has also shown success with its structured way of finding and testing interesting smart service prototypes, getting things done and gaining feedback on the impacts. To this date, the programme has tested 12 co-created pilots that were related to health and well-being, innovative energy, waste management and applications. 

Even though the programme looks promising, it is not without challenges. For example, finding funding for grass-roots projects, that have come from the citizens, has been found challenging. Furthermore, despite the fact that communication networks for the citizens exists, a need for more interactive communication methods has arisen. In addition, the continuation of the approach will be challenged at the end of the funding period. 

All things considered, the smart kalasatama is a vast programme with several possibilities for transfer. For example, the inclusion of citizens can be utilised in all development projects.