Tiina Kähö: Helsinki leads the way for clean technology

Helsinki is a pioneer, raising the bar in urban transformation to smart and clean technologies. This transformation is being led by the Finnish capital’s Smart & Clean Foundation.

“We believe in rising to the huge challenge for cities to join forces with companies and states to come up with solutions and to put them into practice,” says Tiina Kähö, Executive Director of the Foundation. “It sounds easy but it is not. Helsinki is doing a great job, not least because everything here is open by default. But even more important is to take the next step.”

A lot of technical data is available: the real challenge is how to apply it. “We are trying to attract businesses and startups to provide better services for inhabitants,” she says, citing the MaaS Global Whim app, piloted in Helsinki, as an example. The app provides information about the best means of transportation across the Helsinki metropolitan area, to get from A to B.

Other Helsinki projects include the donation of leftover school food for low-price resale, outlets for which can then be located by using an app.

“The power of cities comes into play with their huge assets,” says Kähö. Cities can help to set up trials and small-scale pilots, but these pilots need to be scaled up if they are to succeed.

“I think there is enormous potential for people who live in the cities to influence things,” she says, adding that collaboration is key to achieving the complete transformation to a carbon neutral society.

“I would encourage the private sector to share data in a more progressive way. Cities are already sharing their data. Now we need to share private data more effectively. And we need to have more collaboration. This can be done digitally. Maybe Helsinki could work with Vancouver or Singapore, for example, because we have the same challenges. Helsinki is a test laboratory for the world in terms of smart and clean solutions. And if we come up with a solution here, we can apply it in any other city. You wouldn’t have to create it from scratch.”


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