Smart Tampere as a developer of a smart city: towards wider utilization of information

The Smart Tampere development program has been in motion for little over 18 months. It is time to present some examples of practical results: this is how the Smart Tampere Ecosystem Program supports urban development and opens up more resources and city's challenges for companies.

All urban functions produce large volumes of information that the smart city uses to support better planning and administration – and, where possible, open up data that local companies can utilize. The Smart Tampere Ecosystem program currently has an ongoing pilot program that aims to find out how the information collected by traffic cameras can be utilized to perceive and understand traffic flows.

‘We are testing a recognition method that can help us separately count pedestrians, cyclists, cars and, prams, for example. This means we do not recognize people but different groups of road users’, says Project Manager Niina Siipola.

The situational picture derived from traffic camera data in itself is a useful tool in traffic planning and maintenance. When combined with other data (for example, weather and event information) it is possible to develop a more accurate, general picture of everything going on in the city and to make smarter decisions regarding future development.

In Tampere traffic data is collected and utilized, for example, in the city tunnel. (Pic: Visit Tampere photo bank/Laura Vanzo)

‘I believe that if data is utilized systematically, the City has potential for savings, accelerating processes and improving the quality of what we do. When information about various sections is brought together, it produces greater value as a whole’, Siipola continues.

The Smart Tampere Ecosystem Program has already started combining information: a test environment has been created, a so-called information pool of the City, that is used to investigate the information quality, defects and needs for improvement of a few sample cases. When the ground work has been done and the quality data transferred to the information pool, it is possible to utilize the data.

‘For example, we get whole new viewpoints on buildings' heating and energy consumption by combining real estate data with data from different sources’, Siipola says.

Smart Tampere aims to move from sectoral thinking to wider utilization of information in everything it does. In this way, the City can develop a broader understanding about its current situation and requirements for the future and it receives quality analytics to support decision making. And in order for the city organization to flexibly and efficiently produce data to utilize, common guidelines such as Smart Tampere's "City Developer’s Quick Guide Into the World of IoT" are needed.

The guide is a description of the Smart City IoT model and has been created to guide the IoT planning, execution and procurement of urban environment. It makes it easier to open up data and to authorize and share analyzed data with companies, educational establishments and cooperation partners in order, for example, to promote trade and research work.

To make the model as comprehensive as possible, Smart Tampere invited companies and education establishments to join the City in defining the content of the model.

‘The interest this topic has received exceeded all our expectations. About one hundred business and educational establishment representatives took part in the defining process. We worked together according to an open definition process developed in the Smart Tampere program’, Siipola says.

The city has as many needs as there are fields of activity. That is why the Smart Tampere program aims to develop the city from many different angles. Let's look at another example, about health services: Tampere is developing services that support living at home because fewer days in hospital quickly leads to considerable savings. If executed well, this also betters the customer's quality of life – people prefer staying at home as long as home is a safe environment.

Security can be increased with the help of technology, as it is already possible to gather information about people's well-being in many different ways. A Smart Tampere solution is an integration platform combining home and remote care services – a system that unifies the service chain of hospital care and home care and uses the information gathered from different sources as a collective whole.

‘In the best-case scenario, the platform, which integrates different services, can save the City millions each year. In addition, it is an entirely new procurement model. According to the model, a public operator does not procure an off-the-shelf solution. Instead, a new solution is created in cooperation with companies and research facilities’, says Jarkko Lumio, Planning Manager responsible for the health and well-being projects of Smart Tampere.

Tampere Events App utilizes data from different sources. (Pic: Pirkko Laitinen/City of Tampere)

Smart Tampere is testing data utilization in Tampere in many different ways. The IAAF World U20 Championships in July gathered visitors to the city from near and far. The Smart Tampere program introduced a mobile app that makes use of local data and helps visitors find local transportation, services and offers. The app is available for other events as well.

‘With the help of the application, visitors can easily find event venues, their service points and schedules. In the IAAF championsips app you could mark your favorite competitions, and the app would tell you when and where you could see them,’ explains Anni Joela, City of Tampere’s Project Manager.

Behind the application called Tampere Events App is a publishing system where event organizers and service providers in the hospitality industry can upload their own content.

The 3D model of the City of Tampere opens up new possibilities for urban development planning and presentation. All of the development and construction objects of the City can be brought into the model, to see how together they affect the urban landscape. It is hoped that local companies will adopt the model and bring in their own plans for everyone to see.

The 3D model helps with urban planning communication and makes it easier to picture the essential development objects, such as objects in one's own work and home neighborhoods.

‘As an example, trees being cleared out of the way of the new tramway construction has upset many people. With this new model, we can show them how the green tracks and the trees that will be planted are going to make the surroundings of the tramway more scenic’, says Tero Blomqvist, Smart Tampere Program Director.

Smart Tampere's aim is to develop the city as a whole, which is especially important as Tampere has many huge development processes going on at the same time. Marketing Specialist Pirkko Laitinen emphasizes the importance of work crossing the borders of different organizations. Smart Tampere has, for example, cooperated in the work of designing the digital elements of the trams with Tampere Tramway Ltd. and Transtech, the tram coach manufacturer, and brought companies to join in the cooperation.

‘It is extremely important that local companies take part in urban planning. With large development projects we are also developing our own know-how and making Tampere even more attractive to companies and skilled professionals’, says Laitinen.

With cooperation projects local companies get to partner with large, international businesses and more easily enter international markets.

You can read more about practical results of the Smart Tampere Ecosystem Program on the programs website (smarttampere.fi). The ability to approach urban development from new angles and the willingness to cross borders of different urban sectors is the common feature in all of the results.

‘We have managed to extensively map different parties' needs regarding collecting and sharing information and developing services. We have already found companies and company consortia that can respond to the needs of some of the City's top development projects, like the Tampere Tram and the Multipurpose Arena´, Blomqvist summarizes.