Four smart city pilot projects start in January 2021

Altogether 71 ideas were proposed to the international challenge of the FinEst Smart City Centre of Excellence for smart cities. Twelve of the ideas were selected to the finals and four projects have been selected for financing. Research-intensive ideas will be developed and piloted in real urban environments
Smart City Challenge

“To our knowledge, this approach is very unique globally where urban challenges of one country have been systematically mapped and matched with research-based solutions. This process effectively brings the scientific solutions from university labs to the urban streets within 1-2 years,” told the Founding Director of FinEst Twins Smart City Center of Excellence, Ralf-Martin Soe.

The 12 best proposals were evaluated by the international evaluation committee based on the written proposals and oral presentation. The best four will be financed and executed by the FinEst Twins smart city centre of excellence together with the TalTech, Aalto University and involved cities starting from January 2021.

One of the chosen pilot projects comes from the domain of mobility, one from built environment and two from the energy. The budgets of these large pilot projects are in between 1.2 and 1.5 million euros and the created solutions will be developed and piloted in two cities by May 2023. There are four Estonian urban areas involved: Tallinn, Tartu, Lääne-Harju and Rae county and Helsinki from Finland. Tallinn is involved in three pilot projects and Tartu in two.

Pilot projects starting in 2021

A conceptual ecosystem solution to transport system management

The idea is to offer a conceptual ecosystem solution to transport system management of the near future, where additionally to the existing means of transport, self-driving shuttles and micro mobility solutions are going to play an important role and user centric approach is highly required. One of the main outcomes of the pilot project is a user-friendly data exchange platform for all required services by interconnecting existing and new solutions over unified data exchange-platform.

Our pilot will test an interconnected on-demand based full transport solution from passenger’s home to capital city hub and beyond. The data exchange platform will be connected with existing governmental databases and creates open-access new data sets in order to offer personalised on-demand pro-active services. The practical pilot includes self-driving AV shuttles on-demand service in sub-urban areas connected to main public transport and micro mobility service providers in the capital city. AV shuttles are going to be remanufactured from end-of-live electrical vehicles significantly reducing the environmental footprint and making AV shuttles affordable to local counties.

The final outcome of the project will be future city model tested in real urban environment and implementation toolkit for cities and urban areas all over the world. Project main partners are City of Tallinn and Rae County, as well as a wide circle of external partners in government, private and non-profit organisations.

This project is led by Professor Raivo Sell from Tallinn University of Technology.

Real-time building performance audit

This team aims to improve operational energy performance and indoor climate through digitalization of facility management in large real estate portfolios. Continuous monitoring of energy, ventilation and indoor air quality in hundreds of buildings results in a big data for which performance analytics capable for benchmarking and identification of faults and malfunctions in building technical systems as well as in building operation will be developed.

In total, 45 educational buildings of Tallinn, Tartu and TalTech are planned to be connected to the IoT platform and tools developed in the project. The platform will split performance monitoring functions from maintenance related automated diagnostics.

The user interface of the platform consists of three dashboards with increasing detail level on information provided: Executive, Departmental and Maintenance dashboard. The project focuses to educational buildings because their indoor climate is essential for achieving high learning performance that has implications to national competitiveness. The results can be utilised by any large real estate portfolio owners. 

This project is led by Professor Jarek Kurnitski from Tallinn University of Technology.

Reducing energy supply requirements using microgrids and energy storage

This project aims to reduce requirements for electricity supply through optimised consumption and decrease carbon-intensive electricity production by simplifying the uptake of renewable energy. Instead of consuming electricity based on real-time demand, the use of energy storage and control systems enables to alter the electricity consumption profile and compensate for the intermittent output of generators utilising renewable energy. The objective is achieved through the use of electric microgrids, which are formed by a digital low voltage substation with an integrated energy storage system and a dedicated software platform.

The project provides municipalities means to solve their energy supply problems, whilst also increasing the uptake of carbon-neutral energy through the simplified formation of electrical microgrids and closed electricity distribution grids. As a result of this project, recommendations for policy makers and a concept of creating microgrids through a scalable product are provided. Additionally, empirical evidence from actual environments is used to carry out high quality research focused on energy storage systems, cyber-security in electricity grids, energy policy and markets. The pilots are planned to be carried out in Lääne-Harju Parish in Paldiski and in the city of Tartu.

This project is led by Dr Tarmo Korõtko from Tallinn University of Technology.

Tallinn-Helsinki dynamic green information model

This project develops green elements for the digital twins of Tallinn and Helsinki, and additionally, creates a permanent hub for city planning in Tallinn centre. The world-class novelty of the project is the dynamic digital modelling of the green environment, a “green information model”.

Today, the green is represented in digital environments by static images. In reality, the green environment is in constant temporal change, which has a major impact on urban comfort and the carbon balance of a city. Green environment is a primary quality factor of urban environment. It has a major impact on micro-climate and particle emissions, heat island effect and soundscape. Green-blue infrastructure is a measure for climate adaptation. Green environments create identity for cities and can offset greenhouse gas emissions towards carbon neutrality. A 3D-plant model resource library for the target areas in Tallinn and Helsinki will be created by applying game engines together with CityGML. Later, the library can be extended to serve the needs of other cities in other climate zones – all over the world.

The permanent Smart City Planning HUB in downtown Tallinn will promote the digital advance of the city and facilitate citizen participation in urban planning.

The project partners are the cities of Tallinn and Helsinki, Aalto University and Tallinn University of Technology. The project leader is Professor Kimmo Lylykangas from Tallinn University of Technology.

About the Smart City Challenge

FinEst Twins Smart City of Excellence has been given the mandate by the European Regional Development Fund and the Estonian Ministry of Research and Education to carry out 10 research intensive pilot projects targeting real life challenges and have remarkable impact for the cities.

The FinEst Twins Steering Committee has approved the action plans and budget for the first half year for these four projects and the project leaders now will prepare the concrete research and innovation plans with measurable goals to monitor the progress of their projects. The similar challenges will take place also in the next coming years with possible changes in the target challenges and length, financing amounts per project.

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