Helsinki gets a grip on the future of urban transport




Tomi Laine

Head of Smart Mobility Finland
T: +358 40 5270827

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The future of urban mobility is a central topic of city discussions across the globe. And in Helsinki, it has not been much different. Forecasting the future is a prerequisite for creating functional cities that secure sustainable growth and balanced budgets. For that reason, Mayor Jan Vapaavuori established a workgroup of experts to examine the development of Helsinki’s transport system concerning expected changes and related strategic responses.

“The future analysis for Helsinki relied on scenario work. The task of Ramboll’s consultancy team was to plan and facilitate a series of workshops in which the client’s workgroup identified future megatrends, analysed their impacts on Helsinki and defined three scenarios where automatization, servicification (MaaS) and openness of data take alternative development paths,” Tomi Laine, Ramboll’s project manager, says.

Envisioning Future Urban Mobility

In the first phase, the working group identified and assessed four certain megatrends with significant impacts on the future traffic in Helsinki: climate change, change of work patterns, urbanisation and ageing population. Next, critical factors with the potential of impacting the Helsinki traffic but with yet unidentifiable realisation and magnitude were identified. Transport automation, openness of data and servicification were, among other things, determined to be of such character. Three possible urban transport scenarios were designed, and their potential impacts on the City’s strategic goals were assessed.

How would the introduction of fully automated and self-driving vehicles impact citizens and the local government? What would it mean if the ownership of the transport assets lied with multinational corporations? What role would local service providers play, and who should own the data? All these questions were addressed in the three scenarios.

A Teamwork that Creates Results

“The work we did in cooperation with the City of Helsinki was different from regular consultancy work. The client was incredibly committed to the project and was involved in the whole process. This resulted in a more comprehensive set of scenarios and recommendations for future development based on multidisciplinary expertise and thorough analyses,” Laine says.

The project excelled in its innovative approach to cooperation. The way the work was facilitated allowed for co-creation and open knowledge sharing of different expertise, resulting in elaborative scenarios. The report has received praise for its analysis of the roles of the market players, the public sector, and the City of Helsinki respectively in driving the development forward. The report calls for a discussion on how we should process transport data in the future to create the best conditions for sustainable transport systems.

So, What Does the Future Hold?

The future is, naturally, uncertain. However, it is becoming clear that increased digitalisation and emerging new technologies are forcing cities to redefine their roles within urban mobility. For the cities of the future, it will be necessary to establish functioning mobility ecosystems while, at the same time, enabling sustainable growth, accessible and equal transport systems and appropriate division of scarce street space.

If you are interested in reading more about the project, you can read the full analysis here


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