Digital solutions to put spaces to efficient use
The Flexi Spaces project of the Forum Virium Helsinki innovation unit has created a model to give citizens and communities easy access to various spaces. The model utilizes digital solutions such as smart locks and web-based space reservation and payment platforms. The new model for opening spaces, tested in the Helsinki smart city district of Kalasatama, has been a success. The topic was discussed at an event focusing on the opening of spaces to citizens and communities, held at the Helsinki City Hall on 15 February. The opening speech at the event was held by Helsinki Deputy Mayor Nasima Razmyar responsible for the City’s Culture and Leisure Division.
As with other sharing economy concepts, new solutions to increase efficiency in the use of spaces benefit both the owners of spaces and those with needs for spaces. When under-used and empty spaces are opened for use by citizens and communities, the city becomes more dynamic, and citizen activity becomes possible in different parts of the city. Efficient use of spaces is also advisable from the economic perspective.
“Efficient use of spaces is a particularly significant question to the Culture and Leisure Division. If we manage to put the City of Helsinki spaces to efficient use with the help of digital solutions, we can create a tremendous amount of new opportunities for sports and cultural activities,” Deputy Mayor Razmyar says.
Kalasatama as the host district to the Flexi Spaces pilot
Kalasatama has served as a piloting area for flex-space services. For example, a rental housing company of Setlementtiasunnot opened their leisure activities space to all users in the Kalasatama Flexi Spaces project. Residents of the housing block can use the space free of charge; other users pay 20 euros per hour in rent. The space is reserved and the rent is paid through the Flextila.com system.
“We have paying customers almost daily. The newest customers include a musical kindergarten and a dance group. The quality of life and level of activity of the housing block residents increase when, for example, they can go in slippers from their homes to a yoga class,” says Pirjo Peltosuo, a community coordinator at Setlementtiasunnot.
Thanks to the Flexi Spaces project, Kalasatama alone now has 15 flex spaces, which were reserved more than 600 times in the first year. Forum Virium Helsinki is now extending the Flexi Spaces model to Tampere, Turku and Oulu. The lessons learned from Flexi Spaces are distributed Europe-wide in the Refill EU project.
City of Helsinki spaces reserved through Varaamo and spaces bank
The City of Helsinki has opened its spaces through the Varaamo reservation system and the City spaces bank. An increase in flexible spaces is already taken into consideration in zoning. The City of Helsinki also promotes the flexible use of spaces in the City strategy. One goal is to make schools and sports facilities easily available to citizens.
City spaces bank (service in Finnish)
Video: Deputy Mayor Nasima Razmyar’s opening speech at the event focusing on the opening of spaces