• News
  • People
  • Long Read
  • Opinion
  • Weekend Wrap

Breaking News

Helsinki part of sextet solving mobility challenges over cities

Drones can provide new transformative tools and perspectives for urban planning and life.

Oleksander Pidvalnyi / Pexels

The Finnish capital is at the vanguard of seeking innovative ways to incorporate drones and air mobility into everyday urban life under CITYAM, a project funded by the EU.

Bringing together six cities from the Baltic Sea Region, the three-year project seeks to find responsible and sustainable ways to integrate new air mobility services – which are billed to have a transformative impact on cities, urban dwellers and urban planning – into traditional urban mobility systems.

The longer-term drone operations and infrastructure work on landing sites will take place first in Helsinki, Hamburg and Stockholm. The solutions will then be replicated in Gdańsk, Riga and Tartu.

Renske Martijnse-Hartikka, project manager for CITYAM at Forum Virium Helsinki, outlined that the project will principally look to enhance public officials’ knowledge of urban air mobility and measure public acceptance of new services in the space.

“We only want to bring more drones to cities if it really benefits society and can be done responsibly and sustainably,” she underscored.

It will also look to provide tools for drafting a solid urban air mobility strategy, adapt city planning practices in relation to landing sites and airspace management, and scale relevant drone operations as part of the transport system.

The project partners believe cities must urgently enhance their awareness, knowledge and tools in the space in order to effectively utilise drones to solve some of the problems faced by their often overstretched traffic systems, including low cost-efficiency, lack of space and limited accessibility of some hard-to-reach locations.

Although the project directly includes only six cities, it will provide tools that support adaptation and utilisation efforts also in other cities.

“Replication is important in CITYAM,” commented Martijnse-Hartikka. “We are focusing on scalable outputs, as we want to provide solutions that can be used across the entire Baltic Sea Region.”

The project is coordinated by Forum Virium Helsinki.

Collaboration on the use of drones is well underway in Finland. Dozens of Finnish authorities, companies and research companies recently wrapped up a project that established test areas for using drones in various conditions and for various purposes in the five localities of Evo, Oulu, Pyhtää, Sjökulla and Vihti. In Pyhtää, for example, the area focused on developing drone-based logistics services for sparsely populated areas.

“We need both regulations and co-operation between organisations to facilitate the use of drones in society and research, and to develop new business,” said Eija Honkavaara, research professor at the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI).

Honkavaara served as the director of the project consortium.

The consortium will continue to collaborate despite the formal conclusion of the project, conducting research and tests on new innovations and technologies in the new air mobility space.

By: Aleksi Teivainen