FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the goal of the Mobility Lab and who are you?

The objective of the Mobility Lab is to support the development and testing of new innovations to enable new business opportunities and growth while supporting the development of smooth, safe and sustainable mobility. It is an activity funded by the Helsinki Innovation fund, bringing together different city organisations, companies, researchers and developers to test and develop new solutions in the urban environment. It is coordinated by the City of Helsinki and done in collaboration with the city’s innovation company, Forum Virium Helsinki.

Got a new smart mobility solution you need to test in an urban environment? Get in touch!

What kind of tests and pilots does the Lab support?

Our focus is on novel smart mobility solutions for smoother and safer traffic or tackling emissions and air quality issues. In other words, solutions that are in line with the city’s needs and objectives for transport and mobility development. The primary focus is on digital solutions and services.

The decision to collaborate on a specific idea always depends on the case and how the city can support it. We generally want to elaborate the plans together with you in order to build a promising test case. Below are some typical questions we are interested in understanding about the ideas:

  • – Describe briefly what the solution (product, service) you want to test.
  • – What is the challenge / need your solution addresses?
  • – What is new and innovative in your solution compared to existing solutions?
  • – What is the maturity of your solution at the moment? (E.g. Technology Readiness Level or idea/prototype/tested/in the market)
  • – What would be the objective of the test or pilot and how would you measure success? (e.g. user experiences, technical viability, first references, developing business model, …)
  • – What is the role of and what do you need from the city to realize the test or pilot? (e.g. place for implementation, enabling smart infrastructure, city data, city’s personnel as users, citizen engagement, funding, …)
  • – What other parties are needed for realizing the pilot?
  • – Who are the users / customer for the solutions (B2C, B2B, B2G; specific user group)?
  • – How do you reach the users and motivate them to participate?
  • – What is the desired scale for a pilot? (e.g. duration, number of implementations, amount of users, …)
  • – Estimate briefly the business and scaling potential of the solution.
  • – Does the solution create data, and would that be available for third parties?
  • – Are there potential issues or risks regarding e.g. safety, privacy or other regulations?

What is the area where the pilots are done?

We’ve especially focused smart mobility tests in the West Harbour area, Jätkäsaari district. Is is a rapidly growing district with a busy passenger harbour, creating traffic challenges to address. The focused area also provides synergies between different projects and e.g. enables new data from installed sensors to be used by other projects. However, we’re happy to discuss and try to connect brilliant ideas elsewhere in the city as well – wherever they make the most sense.

What kind of funding is there for pilots?

Within the scope of the Mobility Lab, the only direct funding or procurement of pilots is through the occasional agile pilots and innovation challenges as open calls. Other forms of collaboration are also possible through discussing common interests and finding a good match with city’s needs and new ideas. The focus is on testing and developing new solutions, not in procuring existing on-the-shelf products.

What are agile pilots and how do I participate in those?

Agile piloting is a model for quick experimentation with new services in a real-world environment. They are short (usually a couple months long) early phase experiments that aim to prove or create new knowledge about a new concept. The pilots are selected through open calls defining the topics and selection criteria.

What kind of obligations are there for those piloting their solutions?

The expectations, processes, obligations and contractual aspects vary based on the type of test, pilot or project as well as the roles of the city. As a general guideline, the objective and the general results and lessons learned should be made public in the experiments supported by the Lab. We also encourage as much data and APIs to be opened for third party developers to use as possible. However, intellectual property rights and sensitive information and data remains with the owners. The piloting party needs to ensure their solution complies with applicable rules such as safety and privacy (e.g. traffic regulations, GDPR).

For pilots where funding is provided or investments are done, more formal contracts and obligations in terms of delivery and results are defined. This applies to e.g. the agile pilots.

How can the Lab support my pilot?

The “what we offer” section of the website is dedicated to describing different ways how, depending on your needs, the Mobility Lab can help realize your smart mobility experiment.

Read more about what we offer

What kind of support is out of scope?

We cannot bypass rules and regulations or existing contracts for the sake of testing something, nor can we obligate third parties to participate in a pilot. For instance, installing equipment on buildings or space managed by private companies need to be discussed with them. Similarly, public transport ticketing in the Helsinki region is managed by the Helsinki Region Transport authority (HSL), not the city.

Within the scope of the Mobility Lab, we try to help companies test their solutions in the real environment but we do not directly fund projects (beyond agile pilots) or procure solutions. Commercial activities, simply marketing new solutions and deploying existing solutions are also out of scope for what we want to facilitate.

What’s the city’s role in the pilots?

The city’s role in the mobility ecosystem in Helsinki depends on the case. Public transport, for example, is managed as a regional service by the Helsinki Region Transport authority (HSL) while many mobility services such as e-scooters are operated as commercial services by private companies. The first discussion about each pilot idea tends to be elaborating the ecosystem and understanding who are the right, relevant and needed stakeholders for it. The Mobility Lab can help you with this.

What data is there available?

In general, the approach in Helsinki is that data that isn’t sensitive would be made openly available. The data section on the website provides examples of mobility-related data available in Helsinki.

What can be done or installed in the street space – what does it take?

Various installations can be done if the pilot makes sense but it is very much case-by-case. Safety is paramount but also issues such as availability of electricity often need to be determined. Using city’s street space or e.g. stopping traffic for roadworks or installations requires the appropriate permits.