The City of Helsinki and software company Hypercell will be opening the Heatmap website today at the address heatmap.fi/helsinki. The page will display the congestion status of key tourism-related areas, sights and services in Helsinki for the current minute in the form of a colour-coded map view. Thanks to the Heatmap service, tourists and local residents alike can make their visits more pleasant and avoid crowds in order to feel safer. As far as we know, Helsinki is the first city in the world to make a heatmap freely available to everyone for the purpose of improving safety.
In addition to tourists and city residents, the safe urban experience enabled by the Heatmap service benefits companies and the City itself. The City will be installing sensors to cover the city centre and the areas of the city proper that are important in terms of tourist flows. The coverage also includes Helsinki Biennial, Suomenlinna and the Kasarmitori summer terrace, and the sensor network will be updated continuously with the sensors of companies and other operators. The participating companies will gain visibility on the Heatmap and also contribute to bolstering Helsinki’s competitiveness In addition to this, the companies can use the collected data for a variety of purposes, including optimising their marketing and measuring customer potential in different areas.
The data can be leveraged to develop the City’s operations. It can be used to measure the appeal of the City’s various tourist attractions and focus services based on demand. The data can also be useful for traffic planning and balancing environmental load. The data provides excellent building blocks for future urban planning efforts.
“The health crisis has also taken an extremely heavy toll on the tourism sector. Helsinki has suffered from the impacts of the coronavirus crisis more than the rest of Finland, as a large part of the local ecosystem has been built upon hotels, restaurants, events, event services and experiences. What we need to do now is make strong efforts to develop new joint operating models to increase and communicate about safety. Heatmap is a great example of how businesses and the City of Helsinki can create an even safer city together. Safety and spaciousness are among Helsinki’s strengths, even on an international scale,” Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development for the City of Helsinki.
The data collected for the Heatmap consists of three elements: crowd volume at various points in time, the average time crowds stay in specific locations (i.e. how long people spend by certain sites) and the movement of crowds at various points in time within the sensor network. The colours describing congestion at the various sites are updated every minute. The Heatmap can be viewed with a browser on any device. The sensors installed throughout the urban space collect anonymous Bluetooth signals from devices such as mobile phones. All the data is collected anonymously, and none of the data can be directly or indirectly linked to other data to enable the identification of the user in question.
The Heatmap is implemented as part of a data pilot under the ‘Regional management of safety in tourism’ (Matkailun turvallisuuden alueellinen johtaminen) project, which is financed with funding from development project funds promoting the recovery of tourism (Matkailuelinkeinon elpymistä edistävät kehittämishankkeet). The project is one of the development projects of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment aimed at helping the recovery of the tourism sector, and it will continue until 31 December 2021.