The City of Espoo is taking the next step towards becoming a digital city with a project where the City as a Service concept is developed by means of innovative procurement.
The City as a Service concept is based on the idea that the raison d'être of cities is to serve their residents, companies and communities. Urban development is based on service, flexibility and accessibility as well as networked sharing and utilisation of resources.
This is by no means the first experiment conducted in Espoo related to the development of the City as a Service model, with notable examples including the School as a Service (SaaS) model and various Mobility as a Service (Maas) experiments.
“The City as a Service by means of Innovative procurement project is part of wider City as a Service development efforts. In this project, the aim is to collaborate with companies to develop a digital platform, which will support the implementation of various interoperable City as a Service operating models in cities,” says Director of City as a Service Development Päivi Sutinen.
The first concrete application is premises and their management and flexible utilisation. The aim is to find new solutions for the cost-effective management of premises by, for example, improving the utilisation rates and condition monitoring of premises.
New understanding through experiments
Instead of rushing headlong into the procurement of a platform, the project will approach the matter through experiments. Questions that these experiments aim to answer include how different forms of data related to premises could be combined and how such data could be utilised to improve the use of premises.
A total of three experiments will be conducted as part of the project, each with slightly different learning objectives. At present the project is in the preliminary assessment phase, which involves assessing effectiveness and risks as well as creating consistent terminology, among other things. The preliminary assessment will also help narrow down the focus areas of the experiments by looking into what kind of different situations the City as a Service approach could be applied to.
“The first experiment will be launched in August. Its aim is to find out how the School as a Service model could be utilised in other areas and other services in Espoo as well,” Sutinen says.
Beginning of this Summer the project sought a business partner for the experiment who could provide an innovative premises management solution for testing and also has an understanding of pedagogic needs. TRACTR Oy was chosen as the partner.
The experiment will also involve surveying the needs of interest groups in different areas and services in Espoo.
“The aim of the experiments is to not only test various technologies, but to develop new operating models in collaboration with interest groups. The City as a Service approach extends beyond just the City organisation, so it is important to get the entire city community on board,” says Project Manager Veera Vihula.
An innovative solution through innovative procurement
The project’s procurements will be carried out utilising innovative procurement methods, i.e. new ways of carrying out the public procurement of products or services that have yet to enter widespread use. The platform solution to be developed in the project is not an off-the-shelf product, as its specifications will be clarified as the project progresses and in cooperation with the supplier, or potentially even multiple suppliers.
One of the aims of the project is to boldly try out new ways of carrying out procurement.
“For example, the experiment procurement is the first time that we are using the realisation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as an assessment criterion. Tenderers can provide references to show that their previous commissions have promoted sustainable development. We are committed to the SDGs and hope that our partners are too. This is a new way for us to promote sustainable development in procurements,” Vihula says.
It is hoped that the City’s new operating methods will also create new innovative business potential for companies. The City as a Service model is heavily based on cooperation carried out in networks, due to which companies have an exceedingly important role to play in the project.
The project has received funding for innovative public procurement from Business Finland. The funding is targeted at public procurement units that are aiming to renew their services and operations.
- Director of City as a Service Development Päivi Sutinen, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 (0)46 877 2871
- Project Manager Veera Vihula, email@example.com, tel. +358 (0)43 826 9183
- The City of Espoo provides updates on the progress of the project primarily on Twitter. Follow the account @MakeWithEspoo and hashtag #CaaS.