Group intelligence in Helsinki: collaborative sustainable city planning

The Urban Academy in Helsinki relies on a multi-disciplinary approach to sustainable city development. Based on co-creation methods, it aims at “bringing teaching and research from lecture halls and laboratories to the city streets, its residents and policymakers” to build better cities.

Ambitious, you would say. It is, indeed. The Urban Academy wants to engage all parties in a co-creation and co-design process. The main partners are the University of Helsinki, Aalto University and the City of Helsinki. The network brings together researchers and students, policymakers, urban planners, officials and residents to learn from each other through case studies and problem-solving.

“How should we reorganise health care services, how can we engage and empower adolescents, and what should urban green areas look like ?” Those are some of many questions used as starting points to cross-disciplinary work. “The city has a growing need for knowledge on complex questions and researchers have an interest to get their research into use”, explains professor Jari Niemelä. The idea behind is to avoid working in silos. Bringing together people from various fields and backgrounds helps ensure developing an integrated approach and getting as close as possible to the best solutions. This is what group intelligence is all about.

The Urban Academy has recently entered the Helsinki Challenge, in which they are semifinalists. This challenge, organised by the University of Helsinki, aims to be an “idea accelerator”. Under five main themes, teams enter the competition by submitting their solutions to meet “grand challenges and for the future well-being”. In this framework, the Urban Academy team is working on the Kalasatama district in Helsinki as a focus point for urban development. The project will be visible to all around the city, and will for example take the form of co-creation workshops in different public places.

Mrs. Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development of the City of Helsinki, will present the Urban Academy during Energy Cities’ COP21 Dialogue on December 3Register now to meet Mrs. Rinkineva as well as other city leaders in Paris !

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Publication date

October 29, 2015