Smart Tampere as the developer of a smart city: speeding up business activity

The Smart Tampere development program has been in motion for little over 18 months. It is time to present examples of practical results: this is how the Smart Tampere Ecosystem Program has facilitated vibrant business activity.

Telia's new Crowd Insights tool originated in Tampere. The company has turned it into a product that is currently being offered in Finland and Sweden, and soon in other countries, as well. A cooperation between Telia and Smart Tampere – and Robbie Williams – was needed to get here.

‘We were discussing with Telia about how their know-how could be utilized in an urban environment. There was a need in many of the City's units to better know and understand the movement of people’, says Project Manager Niina Siipola.

When we know where people are coming from, where they stay and what routes they take to leave the city, we can provide smarter traffic planning, street maintenance and services. The British singer Robbie Williams' concert, that brought some 30,000 viewers to Tampere's Ratina in August 2017, provided a brilliant testing opportunity. By using the anonymized data of Telia's mobile network it was possible to get answers to questions that the event organizer and the City were interested in.

‘We were especially interested in knowing how many people were arriving from Turku, Helsinki and Rovaniemi. Crowd Insights proved to be a tool that strengthened our ability to understand and add to the information gathered in other ways’, says Smart Tampere Program Director Tero Blomqvist.

Telia's Crowd Insights cooperation describes well the essence of the Smart Tampere Ecosystem program. The mission is to understand the needs of the City's most important lighthouse projects, service areas and utility companies, combine those needs into larger groupings and choose which of them first require solutions developed with local companies.

‘Our role is to serve as a public player and support business development because that is how new jobs appear. We concentrate on Smart City solutions because those are the ones other smart cities of the world want to use as well. This, then, provides opportunities for international trade for the local companies’, says Blomqvist.

Smart solutions and sustainable development go hand in hand. Smart cities use data to improve their current functions and to find new approaches to, for example, energy usage, construction and transportation.

‘New solutions are often ecologically, socially and economically more sustainable. Tampere needs to focus on these if it wants to be an internationally-recognized smart city of sustainable development’, Blomqvist says.

During the first 18 months of operation, Smart Tampere has been launching two other business models as well. SmartMile delivery service points are in shared use among all parcel delivery service providers, which means that online store customers can receive all their orders in one place. Another model, Työalusta.fi, caters to young people looking for the right path to education and work life.

World's first 5G call was made from Tampere to Estonia
World's first 5G call was made from Tampere, Finland, to Estonia on June 27th 2018 by Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner, Mayor of Tampere Lauri Lyly and the CEO of Elisa Oyj Veli-Matti Mattila. (Pic: Pirkko Laitinen/City of Tampere)

Any of Finland’s cities would surely have wanted to be the first to have Elisa's high-speed mobile broadbands. Elisa considered the Smart Tampere cooperation so fruitful that Tampere city center was the first to receive the broadband. The construction was finished in March 2018 and the world's first 5G network call was made in Tampere in June.

‘The new mobile network enables the development of entirely new, smart, digital services for the people of Tampere and the surrounding areas and opens up new business opportunities for local companies. There is, yet again, new momentum for the development of the smart city’, Blomqvist says.

Pilot programs and try-outs with companies are one way to support the emergence of new businesses. Another is to encourage businesses in product development and testing by creating optimal international operating environments, also called platforms. For example, an old plastics factory in Hiedanranta has been harnessed for use in the development of local drone know-how.

‘Businesses of the industry can use the factory for product development, and students take part in the cooperation and have access to internships and jobs. At the same time, the total know-how of drone development grows and competitiveness increases. This opens up numerous opportunities. For example, Tampere University of Applied Sciences already has the top programs in the world for drone science’, says Blomqvist.

The drone testing area in Hiedanranta is a good example of how the City of Tampere aims to partner with local companies for business development in increasingly diverse ways. Traditionally, cities have ordered and instructed; Smart Tampere enables, brings agents together and aims toward a common benefit. This is how, for example, Hervanta's cloud-based testing platform with 5G readiness has served a wide range of innovation developers since spring 2018.

‘Businesses, higher education institutions and research institutions can use the platform to test and develop smart city services. The City of Tampere and the Smart Tampere program provide them with the network built by Nokia Oyj, and thereby give them an additional asset in global competition’, Blomqvist says.

Inside drone testing flying Tampere
Inside drone testing is possible in Tampere, The test site is situated in the old factory area, Hiedanranta. (Pic: Jari Kippola/Imagokuva)

When Smart Tampere invited companies to make use of the tram's inner surfaces (windows, partitions, etc.) and cameras, the companies were eager to offer their solutions. Trams have cameras in any case; Smart Tampere makes sure that the data collected by cameras is used to create new business opportunities for companies and better services for tram users.

‘With interior cameras we can, for example, follow how many people travel onboard and then advise people at the tram stops on which coaches have the most space available. In this way, traffic planners receive accurate and real-time information about, for example, the fill rates of tram coaches at different intervals’, says Project Manager Niina Siipola.

Smart Tampere also cooperates with the double deck rolling stock manufacturer Transtech. There are plans for one special coach: a living lab type platform for company product development and the testing of new solutions.

An information event discussing the digital user experience of the Multipurpose Arena constructed on top of Tampere city center’s train tracks gathered almost one hundred interested participants. There is a lot to do, as the Multipurpose Arena's infrastructure needs to enable both the future's experience industry, like hologram concerts, and the integration of services into Tampere city center’s services, like public transportation.

‘The user experience of the arena is designed along the stylistic lines of Smart Tampere, from home to the arena and back, regardless of how far the visitor has travelled from’, says Blomqvist.

Tampere's most significant construction projects, Central Deck and Arena and the tramway, are mostly about developing smart city solutions and testing them together with companies. Even though the future is built one solution at a time, Smart Tampere's task is to ensure that these solutions form an entity with individual parts that work together seamlessly and develop the city in the desired direction. The work often requires mediation and negotiation but also bears fruit.

‘It is typical that people only see the needs of their own lot, role or area. We have, however, noticed, that when different lots are better understood, it is easier to see what connects them – and when common ground is found, people and companies are usually eager to cooperate’, Blomqvist says.