One of the major information society projects during Finland’s EU Presidency in 2006 was the establishment of the European Network of Living Labs (EnoLL). The Helsinki Living Lab, formed by Forum Virium Helsinki and Art and Design City Helsinki (ADC), was one of the first wave of 20 Living Labs in 16 countries. Following the third wave of launches, the network now has 129 members.
The idea behind the Living Labs concept is to develop real-life test laboratories in which new innovations can be studied in actual urban environments – with the entire network acting as a large-scale test environment for new information and communication services, technologies, and business, and the development of new markets.
The underlying vision is to move away from seeing users as simply the object of research and consumers of industry-driven innovations and to empower them to play an active role in co-creating innovations and end-products.
Digital well-being in Helsinki
Healthy Helsinki – currently Forum Virium Helsinki’s main project – is intended to help encourage greater understanding of the critical importance of well-being by giving people the opportunity to take part in the creation of new welfare services and developing existing ones.
Welfare and health services, which have been thoroughly tested and which really respond to real-life needs in this way, are much more likely to make an impact at home, school, and at work.
Companies will benefit by being able to develop and test new product ideas; and the plan is to develop the best ideas from the Healthy Helsinki project into commercial products and launch them internationally. The City of Helsinki should also benefit, as the project is expected to provide the catalyst for providing better-focused services locally.
Launched in 2008 and lasting until 2011, the Healthy Helsinki project involves the City of Helsinki, Forum Virium Helsinki, and residents, companies, and organisations in the Herttoniemi district of the city, where the project is based. Corporate partners include Elisa, Logica, Mawell, Medineuvo, Medixine, Nokia, Palmia, Tieto, and VTT.
Diaries and TV
Two Forum Virium Helsinki projects that have already been completed are a photo and video diary service for children’s day care centres and the Finnish Mobile TV project.
The photo and video diary service was piloted successfully in 2006, and resulted in the creation of a new spin-off company, ConnectedDay. The Finnish Mobile TV project focused on researching user demand for content and services on mobile TV, and involved a test group using commercial and new trial-level mobile TV services for a period of six months. Details of the results can be found at www.finnishmobiletv.com/finpilot2.