Smart Cities in Finland

Smart Cities in Finland

from Professor Pekka Kess
Industrial Engineering and Management
University of Oulu

Finnish cities – the larger ones – have started several Smart City initiatives by themselves and together. They basically the cities try to cope with all aspects of smart cities like:

– transport and mobility

– natural resources and energy

– buildings

– economy and people

– living (from cradle to grave) and

– governance

However they have still concentrated in some few aspects of smart cities. Finland being strong in mobile communication technologies the obvious development area has been to utilize the technology in smart ways to various needs of the smart city and its citizens. The other strong area of development has been the smart way of using energy. Finland being energy intensive society developments in the smart energy sector will bring significant savings without compromising the living conditions.

The large cities in Finland are still rather small in world scale. That is one reason for strong collaboration between the cities. There are a couple of significant Finnish collaborative smart city programs where the cities share the work and results from smart city developments. These are INKA-Innovative cities and The Six City Strategy – Open and Smart Services is a strategy for sustainable urban development. .. In INKA program city of Oulu is in charge of the Future Health and also Smart City and Renewable Industry developments. The Six City Strategy carried out by the six largest cities in Finland: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku and Oulu. The city of Oulu is working extensively in developing the Open Data concept to help create new services – both public and private.

Oulu has taken seriously the possibilities of the smart city. Life Sciences and Environmental Technology are examples of emerging sectors nurtured by the traditionally strong ICT sector of the Oulu region. The Life Sciences sector comprises today of more than 500 companies Areas of expertise include health ecosystem, prevention of lifestyle diseases, comprehensive service concepts promoting health and wellness, Life Science devices, food safety, optomechatronics, platforms and applications for pharmaceutical industry and manufacturing of industrial biotechnology products. Examples of significant innovations developed in Oulu include the world’s first heart rate monitors for the consumer market.

The University of Oulu with its Medical, Engineering and Science schools has been a key factor in the developments of Oulu area to become smarter and more intelligent. Close collaboration between various types of organizations has created a very productive platform of innovations applying the PPPP (Public-Private-People-Partnership) principles for smart developments. The University of Oulu, Oulu University of Applied Sciences and the State Technical Research Center in Oulu form the scientific basis in this collaboration. University of Oulu also connects the Oulu region to other areas around the world through its scientific networks.

The City of Oulu and the University of Oulu jointly organized a Smart City Seminar in May 2015. The event was a great success with around 400 participants from very many organizations – public and private – local, regional, national and EU. This was a boost for Smart City developments in Finland and especially in Oulu.