In Finland and its capital region there is an abundance of know-how and data available. And not just any kind of data, but open data. This makes the area an outstanding business and testing environment for foreign companies and investors who wish to develop, for example, new smart mobility services based on open data.
The last couple of years have witnessed the rise of the open data movement, championing collaboration between different sectors of society and availability of free data for everyone. The amount of open data is growing exponentially, as well as ways to utilise it. People are using vast amounts of data daily in an ever more complex world.
Does the rise of open data mean a mess and loss of privacy, or astonishing opportunities for business? Business, indeed, was the answer given this week in various events of the Nordic Open Data Week. With open access to public data, new and more versatile services can be created. What is needed is thoughtful insight into how to turn data into business. A Helsinki-and-Vantaa-based and rapidly expanding Finnish company Vainu – the Finnish word for hunch – is a nice example of the potential that open data has in business-to-business operation. Vainu has found its niche in predictive lead scoring: it combines open data with company databases and helps its customers to find prospective clients.
”Data is like the new oil: it will be the most important resource and the means to create added value. Various actors and different kinds of knowledge are needed to publish, extract, transform, and analyse open data, and to provide user experience, support services and consultancy”, said Matti Rossi, Professor of Information Systems at Aalto University School of Economics, in an event of the Nordic Open Data Week organised in Helsinki 1 June.
Advanced information sharing leads to business in the Helsinki area
The Helsinki region is currently investing heavily in open data. Could your company utilise information on air quality, youth, or usage of health services in the Greater Helsinki area? Or would you rather go deep into the data of income and consumption, library loans, or building stock? These are just examples of information freely available to all at Helsinki Region Infoshare which distributes public data in a straightforward way.
This regional open data has already been exploited in novel business models. Vantaa is the first Finnish city in the Minecraft game where citizens can now design the city of their dreams in a three-dimensional world based on public maps and GIS data of Vantaa. The Mobility-as-a-Service concept is looking for mobility service operators right now. Or take BlindSquare, a smartphone application that helps blind people navigate the city. In BlindSquare, information derived from Foursquare, mapping tools, GPS, and open data on public transport and services is gracefully put together. The product developed originally in Helsinki now works in dozens of countries and languages.
“Sensor technology and crowdsourcing may offer business potential when developing smart transport solutions. For example, information on traffic jams can be collected and utilised”, said Development Manager Hanna Niemi-Hugaerts from the Forum Virium Helsinki.
Helsinki is also a major player in various national and global networks of open data cities, such as the Open Cities network in Europe, or “6Aika”, the Six City Strategy in Finland, with various pilot and trial projects. Organisations such as Forum Virium Helsinki, an innovation unit within the Helsinki City Group with expertise in open innovation platforms, open data and interfaces, are also there to help companies to develop their business ideas further.
For further reading:
|WHAT IS OPEN DATA?
Source: Helsinki Region Infoshare
Text: Laura Tahkokallio