The city model is a digital user interface to the Smart City

The city model is a digital user interface to the Smart City

The City of Espoo and Sito Oy with their partners strive to be in the vanguard of the digitization of city planning and development. A key requirement for achieving that goal is a city model closely linked to the processes of a city which enables genuine and diverse interaction.

– We think of the city model as a continuously updating virtual city that is a service platform for all kinds of service innovations, emphasizes Kari Tuukkanen, Director of Digital Services at Sito Oy.

Particularly in urban development we must look boldly forward and meet future challenges, Tuukkanen continues. – In the next 5–7 years when robot cars are likely to become a reality, the classic map of the car navigator will no longer suffice. The cars will need a 3D HD map and a dynamically updating 3D model of our built environment and real-time traffic, parking and other related data, Tuukkanen predicts.

An open city model for the core areas of Espoo

The target of development of the RIE (Regional Innovation Environment) work package of the EUE program is the Espoo 3T area consisting of Tapiola, Otaniemi and Keilaniemi and the linked Helsinki Western Metro Line development corridor. The aim is to pilot-test a regional data model there and at the same time show the concrete benefits of an open city model to urban development and related innovation activity and citizen services.

– The constantly evolving models and data warehouses already in use – such as the city’s 2D map material and 3D models – as well as real-time search directly from its database will be linked to the city’s processes. Thereby the models will be complemented and updated automatically without separate applications, Tuukkanen stresses.

Quicker and more interactive zoning

As city modeling gains ground, for example, zoning may take place in an interactive virtual world. – That increases user-orientation and certainly also makes zoning more effective and smoother, Tuukkanen believes.

Good examples of how digitization has accelerated the building permit process already exist. Permits can increasingly be applied for online, for instance in Vantaa, which is a parallel piloting site in the RIE work package. The building permit applications for the houses on display at the housing fair to be held next summer in Kivistö, Vantaa also had to be BIM-based.

The consortium implementing the RIE work package includes, besides the City of Espoo and Sito, also Adminotech based in Oulu that develops the user interface of the city model, Elisa which is interested in the distribution channels and sensor technology of the model, and Aalto University Properties Ltd which aims to increase the energy efficiency of buildings. Participating research institutes include Aalto University and the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI) as well as the Center of Excellence for Laser Scanning Research funded by the Academy of Finland.

Tapiolan kaupunkimalli3

City-modeling expertise for the global market

– We are fascinated by the fact that we can participate in the radical reform of the processes of city planning, development and living. We wish to stand out from the rest of the field and create expertise and services that have worldwide appeal. The results of the EUE program have already enabled us to define new types of business and find new partners. The greatest benefits are expected to accrue from the results of the soon to be launched fourth phase. They will concretize city modeling in the future, Tuukkanen continues.

Finland is a leader in city-model development. Germany and Holland are already determinedly building a city-driven uniform city model that serves as an open service platform for urban planning, fire and rescue services, and many other authority and business processes. Singapore has been able to develop along with its city-model solar energy optimization systems, guidance applications, robot-car-traffic support services, and various modeling simulations for rescue authorities.

Sito intends to export its city-modeling expertise especially to Norway and Sweden, but also to China. Potential markets exist also in other fast developing Far Eastern and Middle Eastern economies. According to Tuukkanen, they have fewer old, deep-rooted practices that impede the introduction of new digital processes than many industrialized countries.

Text: JUHA SALMI Photos: Sito Oy

See video: Louhi – Urban Information Models