The future of Smart Otaniemi was envisioned in a joint event

9.11.2022 13.15Updated: 9.11.2022 14.40
Smart Otaniemi aims to be one of the leading development environments for future bound smart and sustainable urban solutions.

At the Smart Otaniemi event in October, we heard about current issues in the development environment and shared views in order to create a joint vision. The event brought together the main operators of the Smart Otaniemi development environment: the City of Espoo, VTT, Aalto University and a number of pioneering companies and other operators.

In autumn 2022 a shared vision extending to 2030 and a roadmap for further development of Smart Otaniemi will be draw up. This event offered different actors an opportunity to bring out their views and wishes about the content of the vision and to network with other actors in the area.

Solving global problems and creating business in Espoo

Mari Päätalo from the City of Espoo opened the event by telling about Espoo's sustainable development goals. Sustainable development is being promoted through the Sustainable Espoo programme, and future solutions are being sought together with businesses and partners. Päätalo also spoke about the work carried out in Espoo towards carbon-neutral transport and Jani Tartia talked about the promotion of a sustainable energy system.

Otaniemi has developed into a world-class multidisciplinary knowledge and innovation hub. Its unique features include a culture of co-creation and the fact that the values of individuals and organisations are very close to one another. “By using the same vocabulary, we can enhance our culture of cooperation and shared values, and attract new companies, employees, students and investment to the area” said The City of Espoo’s Deputy Mayor Mervi Heinaro

Sustainable energy solutions and energy communities promote climate goals

The significance of collaboration was highlighted by several speakers. ‘It is important to bring different operators together, because no one can resolve the challenges in sustainable development on their own,’ said Jan Mattson from Schneider. Furthermore, each property should be viewed more extensively as part of a larger entity.

At the Aalto University campus, the energy efficiency of buildings and the buildings' own energy systems are being developed, which were presented by Satu Kankaala from Aalto University Campus & Real Estate (ACRE). Energy communities also help society achieve its climate objectives. They improve self-sufficiency and reliability and enable financial savings when energy does not have to be bought from the market and self-produced energy can be sold to the market.

According to Verneri Kohonen from Caruna, solar panels have become more popular in recent years due to technological developments and decreasing prices. Also, the change in the law related to energy communities has encouraged more and more building societies to install solar panels and thus form energy communities. Ismo Heimonen from VTT explained that the formation of an energy community requires a clear roadmap, a case-specific energy solution, an assessment of costs and risks and proper communications.

Digital services lead towards sustainable transport

Otaniemi Zero Emission Mobility HUB aims to be a testbed for new technologies and services with real-life users. “Different operators must agree to facilitate research and development and at the sma time operations must be financially viable and allow long-term development work”, said Sanna Öörni from VTT.

Cities’ new smart solutions require data. Juha Salmelin from Nokia demonstrated smart pole technology, which enables real-time data collection. Various types of sensors can be installed to the poles and they can be supplemented as needed. Data collected by smart poles offers new opportunities, but data security and the creation of a data marketplace must be carefully planned.

Digital services can also be used to increase the attractiveness of sustainable transport modes for example by offering customized route guidance, where other services would be offered in addition to modes of transport. "However, we currently lack sufficient data on mobility and how people switch between transport modes", said Olli Pihlajamaa from VTT.

The collection of data on how people move around Otaniemi is being tested as part of the People Flow Campus pilot. Iisakki Kosonen from Aalto University discussed about sensors installed at the campus for data collection. In the future, the plan is to include also the data from public transport, lifts and escalators. Aapo Pöyhönen from Nodeon told about using 3D LiDAR sensors and artificial intelligence to monitor and count the flow of traffic at junctions.

Also HSL uses transport data to optimize routes and timetables as well as the ticket and zone system. In the future, more and more accurate data is needed and for example, users of the HSL application are encouraged to share their movement data said Marko Vihervuori from HSL.

Lively discussions on Smart Otaniemi’s future vision

Smart Otaniemi's vision was expected to provide a clearly defined definition of the development environment and the work carried out there. Participants also wished for flexibility and as little bureaucracy as possible.  Innovation calls for rapid action, which means months rather than years. 

Reaching ambitious goals is often challenging. Therefore, goals should be realistic and sufficient time should be allocated for the development work. Moreover, it is important to invite the right operators at the right time to join in, and to remember that the work must be financially viable for businesses.

Participants gave praise to the quick pilots carried out by cities and would like to see more of them in the future. An important benefit of the pilots is the detection of problems, so that they can be fixed before the services are scaled up. Additionally, it is important to ensure that decision-makers have up-to-date information on new solutions so they can take them into account in legislation.

The creation of a shared vision and a roadmap for Smart Otaniemi will continue in autumn 2022, based on the ideas discussed at the event. The work is part of the Implementation Pathway for Environments that Accelerate Sustainable Growth (KETO) project. Project is funded by European Union’s REACT-EU ERDF and is part of the European Union’s response to the covid-19 pandemic.

  • Sustainability
  • Entrepreneusrship
  • Innovation work