The City of Turku has learned to turn strategic objectives into concrete development projects and grown more accustomed to cooperating with different actors.
The impacts of the Six City Strategy on the City of Turku’s operations are most visible in the form of concrete results and the competence and new operating methods created in projects. This is the opinion of Chairman of the Six City Strategy steering group, Program Director Riitta Birkstedt and Six City Strategy City Coordinator Anna-Mari Sopenlehto-Jokinen from the City of Turku. Examples include Visitor Centre Joki, the environmentally-friendly solutions that promote resident participation in the new district of Skanssi, the City’s carbon-neutrality goals, which were based on Six City Strategy projects, and the Smart and Wise Turku project, which combines a number of Smart City concepts.
The City of Turku has used the Six City Strategy to develop new ways of co-operation and opened the City’s interfaces for other operators. The Six City Strategy projects have also promoted co-operation within the City, across divisions. The companies’ involvement in the projects has demanded that the City be prepared to open up its operations. This way, the city environments act as platforms for companies to develop their services.
“The Six City Strategy has taught other actors to seek opportunities for things like co-creation from the City while also teaching us as a City to open up to others,” Birkstedt says.
Smart solutions widely visible in the everyday lives of the residents of Turku
Six City Strategy projects are visible in the everyday lives of residents in many ways. For example, in the Smart Learning Environments for the Future project, upper secondary school students used an augmented reality application to re-build the oldest bridge in Turku, Penninsilta, in the heart of the Turku’s Old Town. The plan is to also create other similar AR applications around the River Aura.
Smart solutions are also being created in Turku’s services for the elderly, city guidance and waterborne city traffic. In addition to all this, the City is opening a goods distribution point at Puutori as part of a pilot focusing on low-carbon last mile logistics solutions. The Six City Strategy has taught the City of Turku that companies should be encouraged to commit to operations at a very early stage and that the dialogue with them must be continuous and intensive.
Turku has also opened up various data sources related to mobility and traffic in particular. “We have only scratched the surface in this regard. So far we have determined what we need to do in order to open up data, and what open data actually means. We still have a lot to do in regard to open data and interfaces,” Sopenlehto-Jokinen says.
Concrete cooperation among the most important results of the strategy
In Birkstedt’s opinion, one of the biggest merits of the Six City Strategy has been learning together with the other Six Cities. Instead of each city solving the same challenges separately, the cities can learn from one another.
“In a country the size of Finland, you have to be smart about how you use your resources. There is room for the cooperation between the cities to become even deeper and more outwardly scaled in the future. We have established trust and a good foundation on which to build even more effective cooperation. It would be a waste of resources to think about these things alone,” Birkstedt states.
The article was first published in spring 2019.