MyData Global Blog


What does it take to develop human-centric solutions for the built environment?

Our cities’ built environment is becoming more data-driven and digital. Analysing people’s digital footprints can provide valuable insights for building better cities and improving public and private services used daily. Is this potential recognised and exploited in the currently deployed solutions, and what does it take to create a sustainable service or product that can be both human-centric and practical? 

Those were the questions that the representatives of two networks – MyData, focused on promoting ethical use of personal data, and KIRAHub – supporting sustainable digitalisation in the built environment, were trying to find  answers to at the joint event organised on 6 April at Maria 01 in Helsinki. The event was also an occasion to launch the Urban3 Showroom presenting concrete solutions that improve the overall quality of cities. 

The following four services and concept models were explored during the event:

  • City Feedback App,  presented by Niko Oksa from Infotripla Oy,  gives the possibility for citizens to interact with cities’ relevant authorities, providing instant feedback about the condition of the city areas;
  • ID and trust network in public transport,  presented by Jaakko Rintamäki from Fintraffic, a concept model for ID-based solutions that make identification easier by limiting the amount of personal data shared with service providers;
  • Haltian – Empathic Building, presented by Juuso Ilmelä from Empathic Building, a complete end-to-end solution that delivers the key data on the built space for operational excellence;
  • IoT-TICKET® Smart City Solutions, presented by Jari Kuusisto from Wapice – service that supports data-driven city leadership and improves the resident experience, by e.g. optimising city area maintenance.

The maturity of the presented examples shows that the potential of the data in the city development and management is very well recognized and exploited. The solutions don’t forget about the citizens – people who should have control over the data that they generate. They see people as active participants in the ecosystems they inhabit and strive to empower them to meaningfully engage with the cities’ leadership as well as organisations that provide services to them. 

But what does it take exactly to “build for people”, or develop the solutions that transform the data-driven city management to citizen-driven cities? Here are some advice that were collected during the event:

  1. Empowering citizens to play an active role in interacting with the cities through the apps and solutions that are user-friendly, consent based and allow citizens to control their data;
  2. Providing safer, faster and more efficient interactions between the service providers and citizens, incl. identification for the use of the complex, multimodal mobility apps; 
  3. Using technology and data purposefully to foster superb user experiences, both in the physical and virtual world;
  4. Finding responsible ways to collect and analyse  data about people’s real usage of  the built spaces and help make decisions about their development and maintenance. 

“Building better, more human-centric solutions in smart cities starts by realising that citizens and their digital footprints are not merely aspects to monitor and evaluate. They are active participants in the cities we live and work together and need to be engaged in designing better cities and managing the data about themselves. This is not important only for respecting citizens’ rights, but it is crucial to building sustainable services and humane cities. I’m really glad to see that more and more service providers are making these ideas happen.”, said Sille Sepp, Deputy General Manager and Programmes lead at MyData Global. 

From the perspective of KIRAHub, Teemu Lehtinen, CEO summarised: “Built environment provides huge opportunities to improve our daily lives if we can harness the data for more human-centric solutions in living, mobility and working. Responsible management of personal data plays a key role in unlocking this potential. It’s still early days for this development but I’m excited to see more and more services entering this field.”

The event is co-organised by MyData Global and KIRAHub within a framework of the H3C: Human centric companies and cities project, co-financed by the Regional Council of Uusimaa. Click here for the recording from the event.

This work will continue at the MyData 2022 conference that will take place in Helsinki on 21-22 June 2022. Check the programme and register at