Helsinki SMART CITY 2016 22-23 November
- by Samantha van den Bos

In this blog I’ve gathered the latest and inspiring Smart Helsinki news for you in the field of transportation. Read about the world’s first complete MaaS app, new regulation in favor of Uber, smart city-biking services and why the Kutsuplus - a government’s on-demand minibus service initiative - failed. Inspired by the Smart City 2016 Conference, where I gave a presentation about Amsterdam as a case where Smart & Sharing are embraced by both the citizens and the local government; and how combining both concepts is a recipe for happy cities. A video of the presentation will be live soon. For those visiting Helsinki soon, I’ve also listed some tips below. But first let’s check out how the Finnish outsmart us!

I thought Ananda was making a joke, but she wasn’t when she told me about this was Helsinki’s on-demand ride sharing minibus service introduced by the government's Regional Transport Authority. But hey, what’s in a name. Although the technology was super innovative at the time they had launched (2012) and by 2016 reached 21.000 users, they didn’t reach sufficient scale to make it a success. They couldn’t turn this into a healthy business case, and didn’t dare to take the risk being a publicly funded service. This makes you question if these innovative services shouldn’t be run by the private sector as they are often better able to adapt the service to customers needs and do it faster. Companies are not faced with the same obligations - and often limitations - as public services do. The smart ride-sharing algorithm came even almost 2 years before Uber had implemented theirs (UberPool), and might not have made it in Helsinki, its spirit still lives on in Washington and their transit services. Read the full article here.

WHIM, the world'd first MaaS app launched in Helsinki
This time the government is getting truly Smart, and leaves the service to a promising startup MaaS Global, with whom the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority signed an agreement on the 15th of November to roll out the app. For the amount of €249 per month Helsinki citizens are now able to enjoy the use of bikes, public transportation, taxis, rental and shared cars through one single app. In this article the writer refers to it as an attempt of the government to “push Uber out of the equation and keep transportation in the public domain all the while appeasing the green agenda.” Whatever the incentive was, Finland is taking the lead and exemplary role in the world of smart cities and MaaS!

Law reform in favor of Uber, and similar services
Soon everybody can be a taxi driver in Finland. Although Uber has been fiercely under attack with some of its drivers having to pay fines up to €12,000 for not having a proper taxi license, the Ministry of Transportation is now developing a new law in favor of the service. The reform touches transportation as a whole with the aim of reshaping transportation from a self-service to a service run by operators more efficiently, and sustainable. For the taxi sector the following changes will be applied: 

  • Pick up at official taxi stands not obligated anymore. Drivers can pick up passengers anywhere they want.
  • No fixed maximum prices anymore.
  • Cost of the ride shared with the customer beforehand
  • You can earn up to €10.000 for small-scale passenger and freight transportation services without the official taxi driver's license. It will be income which has to be declared for income taxations.

More articles on the Finnish Transport Code Act here and here.

City bike sharing
My new Finnish friend Teemu (27) who I met while sipping some delicious salmon soup at the Market Hall, doesn’t own a car (such as many people of my generation including myself). Public transportation is good and costs him about €52 per month, while having access to Uber rides when needed, which are cheaper than traditional taxi services. This summer Helsinki had launched its very first bike sharing service to the joy of Teemu, who has used it plenty and is happy they will expand the service next year.

Watch out for Tampere
Tampere is Finland's third biggest city (after Helsinki and Esloo), located ca. 200 km northwest of Helsinki. They are taking on a visionary approach by building a fully smart ecosystem, and rethinking also their own role as a government. Their case was presented at the Smart City 2016 Conference right after my presentation by Tero Blomqvist. 

If you wanna follow up on more news of the Conference, have a look at these twitter hashtags, and I’ll be sharing some on my own as well. 

#smartcitynordic      #smartcity2016      @samantha_vdb


I want to end this blog with a big thanks to the organization of the Conference Johan, Rami and the others of Business Insight Group. Thank you for the warm welcome and introduction to the stage, and transforming the space into a very pleasant and open conference space.

For those planning a city trip soon, the promised travel tips! : 

Hotel: Lilla Roberts (great boutique hotel in the design district)

Food: Lungi (great urban restaurant, looks like your living room or could serve as your office.) or Salmon soup at the Market Hall.

Coffee & Work: Why Join if you can be a Pirate (great sandwiches, coffee, juices, big windows, and super friendly people!)

Co-working: M.O.W (Mothership of Work), €31 for a day with unlimited coffee and tea, with Finnish design interior also in the design district. Great food too downstairs in The Mess

Finnish Sauna & outdoor swimming pool Allas Sea Pool, in the heart of the city near the Market Square, right in front of the presidential palace.

And for those who want to meet Santa Clause too next year, have a look at his schedule here.

Enjoy! And don't be afraid to share your thoughts on the article. Sharing is caring ;)