The recently-ended digital trial by the City of Espoo and the company 3DBear demonstrated that Espoo residents are interested in the opportunity to participate in the planning of the urban environment The 3D application, which is currently under development, provided citizens with the opportunity to add more elements to their day-to-day environment in the virtual world.
The trial is one concrete step towards the City of Espoo’s aims regarding life-long learning. The goal was to develop the digital skills of the city residents and involve them in urban planning in an easy and enticing way.
Most of the testing was conducted with 3rd and 8th graders of the Tapiola and Meritori schools and the 4th graders of Koulumestari School. They used an application to create ideas on how to improve the functionality and comfort of school premises and learn how to develop essential future skills, i.e. the use of technology.
“Technological solutions themselves age quickly, but these kinds of trials help children to learn new things and acquire information and skills. By involving children in the development of new technology, we ensure that, as adults, they will have the capabilities to act flexibly in the midst of ever-changing technology,” says Planner Minna Kukkonen from the City of Espoo Education and Cultural Services.
Impromptu trial sparks interest in Tapiola
A wider range of local residents of varying ages were invited to participate in Espoo Day as representatives of the City and 3DBear mobilised to Tapiola. At this time, the task at hand was to plan the metro station and bus terminal area.
The main challenge was the difficulty of engaging people – how to reach those who could potentially be interested.
“It seems that no-one wants to commit to workshops, but when we take to the streets, people are interested. This was the case on Espoo Day, but we changed the plans on the fly, expanding the experimental culture to cover this area, too. The end result was clearly good, since we received praise on both the applications’ ease of use and the fact that the city takes the time to ask about the citizens’ views on the planning of urban environments,” says the Espoo Digiagenda strategy’s Development Manager Valia Wistuba.
The eighth-graders of Tapiola School created ideas for increasing comfort at their own school and also the area surrounding Tapiola metro station.
The Espoo City Museum participated in the trial from the perspective of the cultural environment. Augmented reality can be used to determine the hopes city residents have with regard to their nearby environment.
“The application could also work to spark historical imagination and entice children to learn about the area they live in, which, in turn, would increase interest in taking care of one’s own cultural environment,” says Museum Educator Tiina Hero.
The products of the urban scape design workshops held with pupils were on display at the Espoo City Museum KAMU of Exhibition Centre Weegee in November. They will also be featured in the upcoming horizon exhibition as a counterpoint to the visions created by city planners.
The 3D trial was part of the City of Espoo Digiagenda strategy, which was implemented in accordance with the Espoo model of joint development in cooperation with the city and the company that developed the piloted application.
“The trial showed that we can promote the engagement of residents in environmental planning by means of a similar practically-oriented 3D application. We will consider and explore this possibility in cooperation with various city units,” Valia Wistuba explains.
The schoolchildren suggested more plants and benches, for example, to be added in the vicinity of the metro station.
Please, read also: A blog posting by 3DBear
- Chief Digital Officer of the Education and Cultural Services Harri Luttinen, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Digiagenda Development Manager Valia Wistuba, email@example.com
Espoo's digital agenda