Forum Virium Helsinki is Helsinki's innovation company, and they represented the city in Code the Streets. It offers a platform and testbed for new innovative mobility and co-creates urban futures by bringing together companies, universities, other public sector organizations and Helsinki's residents.
Mobility is one of the most significant areas of development in cities across the world. Helsinki is no exception to this, despite its relatively small population. The Finish capital believes that its task is to provide quality public services and create conditions for a stimulating and enjoyable life. This includes urban mobility. Therefore, the city is looking for innovative digital solutions to manage urban mobility more effectively, represented by Forum Virium. They want to decrease the amount of car traffic in specific areas, at specific times and for different reasons. Together with its partner, Helsinki sets out to answer the question: ‘How can drivers be helped to avoid congested areas or areas where the city wants to maintain traffic safety?’.
Helsinki wants to communicate more information with drivers than is now possible through the traditional traffic information channels. Not only about, for example, road rules, but also about social values and factors related to the sustainable development of the environment. The city wants to encourage drivers to take more sustainable routes and promote its carbon neutrality goal and traffic safety in the city.
Central to the city’s policy is the ambition to make its residents’ life more pleasant. Hence the pilot's focus on guiding drivers away from selected areas that may be congested or have poor air quality. Besides that, drivers will be stimulated to avoid areas where traffic safety is paramount at certain times of the day (e.g. areas around schools and daycare centres).
Cities have increasingly been testing incentives to change people’s mobility behaviour and choices. For car drivers, they must be customised and personalised to suggest alternatives to their original route plans while considering the general traffic situation. Incentives must be situation-specific and offered in real-time, requiring them to be brought to the driver’s attention while driving. To achieve this, cities and service providers came together as partners for Code the Streets. They created an open application programming interface (API) that allows to communicate directly with drivers via the service providers, enabling them to nudge drivers to choose alternative sustainable routes.
Future Mobility Management
The results of Code the Streets will provide cities with a new kind of tool to control and manage traffic in their cities. One that's more adaptive and flexible than traditional traffic management tools and allows cities to communicate with drivers directly. These tools are beneficial for policymakers and will also improve the urban life of a city's residents and visitors.