Smart City Update from Helsinki: Engaging citizens in the co-creation of greener districts with virtual reality

The Helsinki Innovation Districts -programme tests and develops smart and green solutions in six neighbourhoods in Helsinki. With the learnings gathered from Smart Kalasatama, pilot projects and smart urban development are expanding to four new districts. During the summer and the autumn, green modular structures were piloted in two of the districts.

Healthy Liveable Neighbourhoods project
Green spaces play a key part in ensuring the wellbeing of people and nature in cities. Within the Nordic Healthy Cities project, the Nordic cities are searching for new ways for
developing healthy, inclusive, and green neighbourhoods. Forum Virium Helsinki has coordinated the agile piloting programme on the topic with Vantaa, Stavanger, Copenhagen, Kristiansand as participating cities.

During 2021, Agile Pilots were run in three Nordic District Urban labs. One of Helsinki’s innovation districts, Kalasatama, served as a lab to develop new digital tools to support the planning of green infrastructure. There local citizens got to test a new tool and co-develop the green areas with augmented reality with Green Kalasatama mobile application, developed by company Granlund.

The application allows users to place green elements, such as trees and bushes, in their surrounding area in a virtual environment. With augmented reality, new landscape designs can be better visualised before they are completed in real life. Residents found the Green Kalasatama application as an informative, yet playful approach for exploring upcoming plans and different design options for new green spaces in their own neighbourhood that is still under construction.

Watch a video about the project here

B.Green project
Digital modelling supports participatory planning of green infrastructure. The city of Helsinki has ambitions for digitising urban planning and finding new ways to support the development of greener neighbourhoods. In Kalasatama, Helsinki’s smart city district, B.Green project explores the virtualisation and 3D modelling of the new residential areas in the district. The aim is to support the planning and implementation of green infrastructure solutions already at an early stage of the planning process. Steps towards a digital model of Kalasatama’s green infrastructure include a digital plant library of Finnish trees and plants, using XR-solution for mapping existing trees with drones and simulating urban runoff and storm waters with virtual models.


Sharing best practices from Helsinki’s innovation Districts:
The Helsinki Innovation Districts programme has created and collected a set of Tools for Urban Innovators to support the co-creation in the urban labs. Browse through to find the ones that fit the activities in your city.