The Six City Strategy – practical solutions for smart guidance and low-carbon mobility in Tampere

Photo: Laura Vanzo, Visit Tampere

From the perspective of Tampere’s strategy, low-carbon mobility is a key theme of the Six City Strategy. Making public transport, cycling, walking and other lighter modes of travel increasingly attractive is being studied and tested in the Kauppi area in Tampere. Smart guidance, on the other hand, is important to making the city pleasant and safe.

In Tampere, the Kauppi area was a clear choice for a 6Aika project named Low-carbon Transport in Mobility Hubs. The area is visited every day roughly by 20,000 people: for example, customers and personnel of Tampere University Hospital (Tays), students and personnel of Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) and the university, personnel of various health technology companies, customers of Kauppi Sports Center and other sports enthusiasts.

The area is constantly changing and it is being built further, which increases mobility and opens up opportunities for the creation of new services.

– The objective of the project is to make low-carbon modes of travel more attractive and reduce the need for driving passenger cars. This is aptly in line with the City of Tampere’s climate objectives, says Jukka Reunavuori, Project Manager from Business Tampere.

Tampere aspires to achieve carbon neutrality, and the development of a sustainable transport system is one of the themes of the Carbon Neutral Tampere 2030 Roadmap. Traffic causes about one fifth of the carbon dioxide emissions in Finland, and the measures taken by cities can significantly reduce the emissions.

There was comprehensive information available on the practices, wishes and requirements of Kauppi area visitors, as a fairly extensive study had been carried out on the area before the project, i.e., a customer report named Smart Mobility Kauppi. 6Aika has contributed to transforming research data into practical measures.

Smooth travel chains

The fluency of travel chains is a key part in the development of low-carbon mobility in the Kauppi area. Public transport serves the area well, and Tampere Tramway, which starts operating in August 2021, will further improve the situation. However, your travel chain starts from your front door and continues to the door of your destination – the entire chain must function smoothly in order to form an attractive alternative to the use of your car.

– Those setting off for Kauppi should be able to check their travel chains: for example, how to continue from a public transport stop to their destinations. In Kauppi, the distance may be half a kilometre or even one kilometre, Reunavuori explains.

The project studies and experiments with solutions for the first and last kilometre of the journey. For example, a mobile route guide that is to be developed for Kauppi will guide pedestrians handily from a public transport stop to their destinations and companies that provide e-scooters are considering extending this mode of travel to the area.

The longer-term vision for Kauppi, as well, is autonomous mobility, but the 6Aika experiments will not yet introduce robobusses to the area.

Creating the preconditions for cycling

The promotion of cycling has strongly been present in the project right from the beginning. According to a customer survey, one fourth of those arriving in Kauppi are cyclists, and the share could be increased substantially. The project investigated how cycling could be made more attractive. The outcome is a number of practical proposals for private and public actors in Kauppi.

– For example, bicycle parking should be increased considerably. The bicycle parking spaces should be better, i.e., they should be lockable, secure and weatherproof, Reunavuori says.

– In the project, an e-bike experiment – linked to park and ride activities – has been launched. The idea is that those participating in the experiment park their cars in Linnainmaa, where e-bikes are available for use, and then cycle to Kauppi, says Jari Ikonen, Senior Business Advisor of Smart Mobility from Business Tampere.

Solutions for parking problems

Parking in Kauppi has been challenging for a long time. When the area is further constructed, the number of above-ground parking spaces will further decrease. 6Aika develops and experiments tools in order to make the use of parking spaces more efficient and, on the other hand, in order to reduce the need for parking, with the help of carpooling as well as park and ride activities.

Today, the parking areas in Kauppi are managed by a number of actors and each parking area has a system of its own. A shared parking hub would collect all data to the same place and, this way, those arriving by car could be guided to vacant parking spaces.

The project has developed a carpooling system. It is waiting for piloting. It is also possible to increase people’s interest in carpooling by reserving free-of-charge parking spaces for those who offer lifts.

Park and ride activities are a handy way of avoiding parking problems in Kauppi. You can park your car – free of charge for the duration of your working day – in the area close to the bus stop and continue by bus.

Guidance makes the city more attractive

Guidance is an important part of a practical and pleasant urban environment. When transport is guided in order to make it fluent, easy and safe, people will, more probably, receive a pleasant experience of the city. Finding places and services, as well as the steering of large masses, have been paid attention to in the City Guidance Ecosystem (a 6Aika project).

The project outcome can be seen in successful experiments, where the city has functioned as an experiment platform, companies have functioned as partners and people moving in Tampere have acted as users.

– One prefers using a mobile application, the other takes a look at information screens and the third depends on signposts. This is why the project has distributed data through various channels, says Project Manager Anni Joela.

Tampere Events App was taken into use at the World Youth Championships in Athletics in the summer of 2018. In order to facilitate navigation, the application provided data on the events, routes and services. The event application is not currently in use, but the Tampere.Finland application – published in the spring of 2019 – is developed constantly. By May 2021, it had been downloaded more than 85,000 times.

The information screens serve both locals and tourists in the city centre of Tampere. The screens have two functional levels. By touching the screen, you will get access to wayfinding and information on services and events. Otherwise, there are advertisements on screens, as well as messages communicated by the City of Tampere.

The City Guidance Ecosystem project has also made room for messages communicated by the City of Tampere on screens at tram stops and on busses. The screens have, for example, been used for providing information on Covid-19. When mass events can be organised again, the City of Tampere will receive more visibility for its marketing communication in the urban space through these screens.

Both the implementation of information screens and the Tampere.Finland application also aroused interest at Barcelona Smart City Expo, where the representatives of the world’s smart cities meet every year.

One of the major results of the project is that the importance of an overall coordination of guidance has been raised for discussion.

– Guidance is associated with many functions of the City, which is why it has been carried out separately at various units. It has been difficult to coordinate the big picture and the compatibility of the different parts, but this has been fixed in the project, Joela explains.

New cooperation for the Cities

The 6Aika project has lifted the mutual cooperation of the Cities to a new level. The problems and challenges dealing with mobility are the same in the Cities, so it is worthwhile looking for the answers together. When the Cities share their experiences and good practices, they do not need to solve every problem by themselves.

– Thanks to the Six City Strategy, the Cities now discuss things together, Ikonen summarises.

– In guidance, Tampere, Turku and Helsinki accomplished more than they would have done separately during the same period of time and with the same sum of money. The cooperation and information exchange between the Cities will continue, Joela says.

The cooperation between companies and public actors has intensified during the project, as agile service experiments have turned out to be a handy way of advancing matters: companies have a chance to experiment with their solutions in real environments. The value of an agile experiment – which is a maximum of 10,000 euros – restricts the scope of the experiment. However, it can be an important incentive particularly for small businesses. At its best, an agile experiment opens up a path to a larger market.

– It is possible that the low-carbon mobility service, which has been experienced as good in Kauppi, will be taken into use in Tampere City Region and other smart cities, Reunavuori says.

– Guidance will be easier to recognise, when the same model can be adopted by various cities. On the other hand, it is easier for the Cities to carry out guidance, when they are able to utilise each other’s experiences, Joela explains.

For example, the Tampere.Finland application is scalable for use elsewhere, and for tourists, it would be handy, if an application that functions with the same principle is used in more than one city.

The Low-carbon Transport in Mobility Hubs project began in September 2019. The project was midway through at the time this article was written. The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed some measures of the project, and more time is needed for their completion. The main coordinator of the project is the City of Espoo.

The City Guidance Ecosystem project looked for solutions for a more practical and pleasant urban environment and a smoother daily life for the citizens. The project ended in the autumn of 2019.

Jukka Reunavuori is the project manager of the implementation for the part of the City of Tampere in the Low-carbon Transport in Mobility Hubs project. He is also the business advisor of Tampere City Region business development at Business Tampere.

Jari Ikonen is an expert of mobility in Tampere City Region and the senior business advisor of smart mobility in Business Tampere.

Anni Joela acted as project manager of the City Guidance Ecosystem project. She is in charge of the coordination of the development of the Tampere.Finland application.

Share news