The City of Helsinki is an example to follow in terms of its commitment to the development of smart cities, indicates a study by Eden Strategy Institute.
The Singapore-based social innovation consultancy has published the inaugural edition of its ranking of the 50 city governments leading the way in smart city development, the Top 50 Smart City Governments. The Finnish capital ranked fifth behind London (1st), Singapore (2nd), Seoul (3rd) and New York (4th).
The top-10 was rounded out by Montreal (6th), Boston (7th), Melbourne (8th), Barcelona (9th) and Shanghai (10th).
A total of 140 cities of all sizes from around the world were evaluated based on existing smart city rankings, news articles and online resources to measure their commitment to building a smart city. Each city was then given a score of one to three across 10 categories including vision, funding, leadership, innovation ecosystem and track record.
“Smart cities are taking centre stage in securing an adaptable, inclusive, productive, sustainable and resilient future for humanity. Leading the development and re-invigorating of high-performance and lovable cities is one of the grandest challenges of our time,” says Calvin Chu Yee Ming, a partner at Eden Strategy Institute.
Eden Strategy Institute highlights that, unlike previous studies, its study investigates the roles of city governments in drafting and implementing smart city initiatives rather than simply calling attention to the cities’ technological accomplishments.
“This study offers unprecedented access to the most effective instruments to help governments become more responsive to users, improve city services and make cities more lovable,” he argues.
Helsinki was commended particularly for ensuring sufficient funding for smart city projects, initiating programmes for equipping its talent with smart skills and having experience in launching successful smart city initiatives.
The city, on the other hand, has room for improvement in establishing a dedicated leadership to steer smart city projects and creating a conducive policy environment for smart city development.
Co-creating a functional city
Eden Strategy Institute draws particular attention to the city’s willingness to invite residents, communities and organisations, as well as other cities, to contribute to realising its vision of becoming the most functional city in the world.
“Different smart city projects in Helsinki are driven at the district, metropolitan area, city, state and regional levels, which fosters resilience in cases of shifts in talent or budgets,” it explains.
Helsinki, it highlights, has not only developed various local co-creation platforms, competitions and boot camps, but also engaged in active dialogue with other cities under the Six City Strategy in Finland and the Horizon 2020 in Europe. Adopted by Helsinki, Espoo, Oulu, Tampere, Turku and Vantaa, the Six City Strategy is an open innovation platform that allows the cities to share and learn from over 45 million euros worth of smart city projects launched since 2014.
“Leading smart cities have been very deliberate about knowledge sharing,” writes Eden Strategy Institute.
This commitment to co-creation is on display especially in Kalasatama, a smart innovation district in north-eastern Helsinki. Eden Strategy Institute points out that the local communities have contributed significantly to shaping the district, with over 800 of the 3,000 residents working directly on the development project.
“A wide range of stakeholders including city departments, residents, citizen organisations, industry, SMEs, start-ups and academia worked together using open data to experiment with smart and clean services that can be scaled up elsewhere,” it says.
“As a result, more than 25 innovative infrastructure, building and experimentation projects are being developed.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva