Helsinki has been selected for IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge grant programme as the only Nordic city. Through this programme IBM offers technology and services to help develop cities around the globe. Helsinki seeks to use the new collaboration to combine and visualize data available in the city in novel ways. The project will be part the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 programme.
“The Smarter Cities Challenge Award is a significant and valuable recognition of Helsinki’s information society efforts,” says Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen. “We’re integrating two key operation principles of the future: making data available publicly and visualizing the data in a user-oriented manner. This is an interesting model for the development of our entire public administration, and it involves a strong international dimension.”
According to Tuomo Haukkovaara, General Manager of IBM Finland, the old saying “one picture is worth a thousand words” well illustrates the joint project of the City of Helsinki and IBM. “Cities can be seen as complex systems that constantly produce vast amounts of information. What wisdom hides in the deluge of information? That's what we’ll be investigating together with Helsinki.”
IBM cited among their selection criteria the strong commitment of the Helsinki City leaders to the Helsinki Region Infoshare and World Design Capital projects. “The international jury was also impressed by Helsinki’s innovative and bold measures to develop the city,” Mr Haukkovaara explains.
The joint project of Helsinki and IBM will utilize all possible data generated in the city concerning, for example, traffic volumes, data communication, tax income, and library visits and loans. Data will be collected and made available in the Helsinki Region Infoshare project and in other connections. The data will be available free of charge to citizens, corporations, the academia, research institutes and other publics.
Publicly available data and visualization of the data are crucial factors in the improvement of living conditions and the economic development of cities. “By combining and visualizing new and existing data, we reveal interesting connections between circumstances and obtain a more clear picture of the city’s operations,” says IT Director Markku Raitio of the City of Helsinki Economic and Planning Centre.
The Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant programme led by IBM Corporate Citizenship. The focus of the initiative is to enable cities around the globe to become more vibrant and liveable places for their citizens. The current three-year project incorporates 24 cities which have demonstrated innovative approaches to utilizing their data.
Forum Virium Helsinki, a City of Helsinki non-profit company that creates digital services for consumers and clients, will play a central role in the new Smarter Cities Challenge project.