MyData Global Blog


Companies and cities: Taking steps towards smarter cities with the MyData approach

Finnish companies are eager to unlock the full potential of data to create better smart city services. With support from MyData Global via the Human-Centric Companies and Cities (H3C) project, Finnish companies are building up capacities for human-centric service design, participating in data sharing ecosystems, and strengthening their ethical business practices. As Joose Väinölä from Helen Ventures said, “it’s a mutual effort” and “we need to join forces”.

For decades, cities have been talking about digitalisation and leveraging more data and technology. Cities want to be “smarter” in order to tackle challenges like the climate crisis and social inequalities, and to increase citizens’ overall wellbeing. But what does “smart” mean in practice? According to McKinsey Global Institute, “‘smartness’” is not just about installing digital interfaces in traditional infrastructure or streamlining city operations. It is also about using technology and data more purposefully to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life”. Though this holds true for MyData Global, it doesn’t go far enough to ensure that citizens themselves are involved in the management and stewardship of their data when organisations are using personal data for developing smart city services.

As city administrations are accountable to citizens, they realise that they need to be exemplary when using personal data and to develop trustworthy and responsible public-private partnerships that truly benefit their citizens. As we have learned from the famous Sidewalk Labs case in Toronto, people and communities need to be involved in designing these new innovative solutions early on. Residents need to have meaningful ways of informing data sources and data using services how they would like their data to be used. This is their digital human right.

Starting from now and into the coming year, a number of companies in the Uusimaa region will start to build up their knowledge and skills to develop infrastructures and services that enable people to have more say regarding their data. 

Over 50 companies and organisations have participated in meetings on H3C thus far, including Greenmobility Finland Oy, Nokia, University of Helsinki, and Vastuu. Together with cities, a diverse group of these organisations will be taking part in the H3C training programme, provided by MyData Global for free. They will learn about fair business models, develop skills for human-centric service design, and strengthen their own business practices to create more value in an open data sharing ecosystem. 

They will deep dive into the complex legal landscape to make sure their services comply with the requirements, and work on standards, governance, and infrastructures that enable trustworthy data sharing ecosystems.

At the H3C trainings kickoff event held on 27 October 2021, Joose Väinölä (Helen Ventures, electricity company in Helsinki) shared that many companies from big industries, like Helen Ventures, have been misled for decades by thinking that holding onto data will be useful for their business. They are now acknowledging that they can only unlock the full value of data by sharing the data they hold. That is why they are launching the new “Helen Partner Platform” (beta) to collaborate with customers and other service providers in gathering insights from energy data, and to foster developing innovative services that would benefit individuals and communities.

There are a variety of smart city domains, such as mobility, skills, education, and interactions with the government, that would benefit from human-centric services built on MyData principles. As the H3C participants highlighted, it requires raising data literacy both among professionals and individuals, as well as communicating the value proposition clearly to both customers and partners. MyData Global helps companies and cities in these efforts by sharing relevant expertise from business, legal, tech, and societal perspectives, and fosters them to establish partnerships. After all, we are in this together!

Are you a data-driven company in the Uusimaa region? Register for our free training, workshops, and learning circle sessions at  

See full presentations from the H3C training kickoff event: