In Northern Finland the city of Liminka has been using their city branded mobile application, known as Kaiku, in several interesting ways. Firstly, Liminka has harnessed the application to hone in on objectives for the city’s strategy development. Via their 'Kaiku' App, the city is currently collecting feedback on strategic areas of development; transportation, neighbourhoods, city events, free time, wellness, and public services. Liminka city is sending out a range of questions on one of these strategic topics each week, gathering responses and feedback from the city’s residents. Additionally, they have also sent out a generic question asking residents, “What is the most important thing that should be developed in the city?” Once the surveys are complete the city plans on integrating the feedback into their strategic plans.
Secondly, Liminka has been using the Kaiku app to expose their citizens to the city’s marketing video. Encouraging resident to share the video and promote the city as a fantastic place to live, work and raise a family.
Järvenpää, a city located just north of Helsinki, has been using its 'MunJäke' (My Järvenpää) application to reach out to the youth of the city. Young people are a demographic that is difficult to reach and engage. The city decided that MunJäke would be an effective channel for connecting with the youth of the city, in a place where they are known to spend a lot of time, mobile phones. To this end, a questionnaire was made and targeted straight to the youth of the city. It asked about Young people’s vision for the city in 2030. What kind of technology do they envision being utilised, how the local schools should develop, etc.
This focus on young people by the city of Järvenpää is a positive and encouraging development. Often the youth are hailed as the citizens of tomorrow but rarely incorporated into developing the cities of tomorrow.
Last but not least, the city of Seinäjoki has been utilising their 'Rinki' application for developing the city’s communications. Rinki was used to ask Seinäjoki residents a variety of questions about how the city should conduct and improve its communication practices. The focus was on the best ways to get information to people and inquiring into the idea of using short videos as an effective method for explaining different issues that concern daily life in the city. The city sent a video via Rinki that explained the process for clearing the streets of snow and asked the app users if such videos were useful for better understanding how things in the city worked.
This approach to developing communications channels is a good idea, often it is easy to assume that the best communications channels are already known. Directly asking consumers of this information is a novel way to validate and improve existing channels and strategies.
Key Take Away
The Smart Cities Dashboard and Applications can be used in many creative ways. Cities are using it to target groups that are often hard to reach, as a branding tool for promoting activities to stakeholders, and as a means of enhancing communication channels.