The intention of Forum Virium Helsinki, the Finnish capital's innovation unit, is to provide urban planners with perspectives from green infrastructure when developing new urban environments.
"We know that green infrastructure affects people's well-being. Having the opportunity to go for walks in green areas, or simply having trees outside the living room window, has a proven positive effect. That was our main motivation when initiating the project", says Development Manager at Forum Virium Helsinki, Kaisa Spilling.
Helsinki, Copenhagen, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Vantaa are the five test cities in the Healthy Liveable Neighbourhoods project. The project is part of the Nordic Healthy Cities initiative by the Nordic Smart City Network, and co-funded by Nordic Innovation.
It will immediately be more interesting for companies to engage in the project if there are opportunities to scale up solutions to several countries instead of one.– Kaisa Spilling, Forum Virium Helsinki
In the fall of 2020, the partner cities were invited to share insights. These have now developed into ideas for pilot projects. Through the cross-Nordic agile piloting program, a method developed by Forum Virium Helsinki, the goal is to complete three thematic pilots, with a time frame of six months.
"What does it take to create active and inclusive neighbourhoods? How do we create accessible green areas close to residential blocks, eatable urban green spaces, or sustainable food services? We are hoping for the pilots to uncover new and better insights", says Spilling.
Calls for the business community
Spilling points out that the inclusion of businesses is key if the pilots are to be scaled up. Forum Virium Helsinki has a large network of companies, and throughout the spring an open call to the business community will be conducted.
"We are inviting companies to contribute into the pilots. Nordic cooperation has proved to be valuable. It will immediately be more interesting for companies to engage in the project if there are opportunities to scale up solutions to several countries instead of one".
Cross-Nordic cooperation at the core
Spilling says that the Nordic cooperation model, with cities from Finland, Denmark and Norway, enables insights and solutions that would not otherwise have come to light. This is common for projects where Nordic Innovation is involved.
"Firstly, I believe there are interesting synergies to explore when different pilots are implemented in various city labs. At the same time, I hope that this project will prove that cross-border experimentation works".
Spilling underscores that the sharing of learning experiences is important for the success of the project.
"By inviting experts from different cities in the dialogue, we can learn from each other. As a result of Covid-19, everything happens digitally, but it is also a very interesting learning process for us", she says.