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Background info

Helsinki is also home to more than 100.000 people aged 65 and over (16,7 %). The aging population in Helsinki is projected to rise from the current around 17% to 21% by 2050.

Problems to solve

Helsinki has advanced city service operations, designed for general public needs. But due to the aging population, a need to locate accessibility issues, malfunctions in the general infrastructure, or change demand, increases, and it is a challenge to ensure safe everyday life for these special groups.

Why take part in Urbanage?

As part of the work of defining Helsinki use cases, several meetings were held with the city of Helsinki officials, alongside with three co-creation sessions. All co-creation workshops were organised online due to the existing situation with COVID-19 in fall 2021.


Helsinki will focus firstly on a case and new method to collect accessibility-related feedback, generated by citizens using physical IoT-devices and/or a browser-based feedback interface. The procedure and the IoT devices are designed in an age-friendly way. The resulting data will be visualised on a live, customisable browser-based map view. The second Helsinki case is quite similar to the first Helsinki case with the difference that specifically Point of Interest data concerning pleasant/enjoyable zones for older people will be gathered. Data visualisation and management methods will be fine-tuned together with city officials. The third Helsinki case focuses on updating and iterating existing Travel-time matrix for the Helsinki metropolitan area. The current version was developed in 2018 and doesn't take into account the needs and requirements of older people. Attribute data will be added, regarding the accessibility of senior citizens.

Co-creation workshops

  1. Co-creation workshop 1 was organised with the older adults residing in Vuosaari. In total 5 participants took part in the workshop. During this workshop, the older citizens mentioned a series of challenges, needs, desires and opportunities. The most pressing needs in terms of street infrastructure were often related to maintenance of streets, pedestrian walkways and access points (e.g., bus stops and entrances). Maintenance of walkways, especially during the winter, was considered as one of the main challenges for accessibility and mobility. The older citizens mentioned the need of proper surfaces to walk on during wintertime when roads tend to be slippery. In addition to walkability, workshop participants desired for more street signs which would give an indication of walking distances between relevant places. In combination with the needs for proper and safe transportation, the older inhabitants of Vuosaari desire a clean and safe environment where they can autonomously move from place to place with a clear estimation of moving time.

  2. Co-creation workshop 2 was organised with the urban planners of the city of Helsinki. In total 4 participants took part in the workshop. In the workshop, civil servants from Helsinki mapped the existing initiatives, the challenges they are currently facing and finally the collaborations they consider relevant in addressing the needs of older people in the urban environment. Based on this workshop, there is a need for better and more accessible information regarding the needs of older citizens and issues they face in the urban environment to assist with better planning. Workshop participants also raised concerns about the lack of participation from older citizens in planning their city.

  3. Co-creation workshop 3 was organised with both the older adults and urban planners of the city of Helsinki. In total 10 participants (7 older adults and 3 city officials) participated in the workshop. Based on the efforts conducted in previous workshops, 2 challenges were presented. The first challenge focused on mobility in the winter season. Older adults indicated in previous sessions that daily mobility was impeded in winter, for example because of snow piles (partially) blocking pavements. The second challenge put the emphasis on comfort and safety in certain areas participants identified in previous sessions. Based on the discussion, possible elements that contribute to this are e.g., lighting conditions on certain routes or a sufficient amount of greenery and resting places.

Accessibility issues and needs that were identified

  • Providing means for older adults to participate in urban planning;

  • Solve accessibility/mobility issues by collecting, visualising and sharing relevant, up to date and area specific data to inform decision making;

  • Create datasets of interesting and enjoyable places to assist in future planning efforts;

  • Measuring travel-time in Helsinki region considering needs of older citizens.

Solutions to these needs will be piloted with the following three use cases:

  1. feedback on accessibility issues - piloted in Vuosaari

  2. point of Interest - piloted in Vuosaari

  3. travel-Time Matrix - piloted in the whole metropolitan area

expected benefits

  • Continuous improvement of the city planning process including more functional spaces and services for olderpeople

  • Improvement of digital and other services and therefore increasing benefits to older people: increased participatory possibilities (the app to inform the accessibility issues) and strengthened possibility to have an effect on the city services. The participation process is supported by providing information back to citizens in a clear and understandable way with accessibility maps.

  • The combination of the previously mentioned benefits will strengthen the real city decision-making process related to older people.

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