Helsinki solves cross-border traffic challenges with smart digital services

 

EIGHT MILLION passengers and 300 000 trucks travel between Helsinki West Harbour and Tallinn Old City Harbour each year. Ferry traffic is dense and apart from the economic and societal impact the connection has for Estonia and Finland, the traffic flows leading through the centrally located ports also represent a dilemma for the local environment, traffic safety and sustainability.

FinEst Smart Mobility project with the City of Helsinki in the lead has addressed the congestion and worsened air quality in the ports by co-developing smart mobility solutions tailored for the needs of this vibrant Finnish-Estonian transport corridor.

Combined with sustainable urban mobility planning in a cross-border setting, the solutions developed in this project contribute to shorter travel times and cleaner air thanks to the upgraded awareness and reactivity to approaching traffic volumes on this heavily trafficked passage.

This innovative co-development and piloting of the digital solutions has also given City of Helsinki, City of Vantaa, City of Tallinn, ITL Digital Lab, Forum Virium Helsinki and Maanteeamet (Estonian Road Administration) first-hand knowledge on the potential as well as on the possible limitations of future mobility.

NEW SOLUTIONS BASED ON OPEN DATA AND COLLABORATION
With smart mobility pilots carried out during 2018-2019, the traffic challenges were tackled by;

  • Producing real-time ferry traffic data including estimated and actual ferry arrival times
  • Predicting and tracking traffic volumes in the harbor
  • Creating a complementary transportation alternative for passengers travelling between Helsinki West Harbor and Helsinki airport
  • Guiding trucks to harbor just-in-time for their check-in

 

 

AS one of the four pilots implemented in the project, Fleetrange developed FinEst API, a one-stop-shop for ferry traffic data. FinEst API provides machine-readable real-time tracking, schedule and arrival time estimations of ferry traffic. During the piloting, the API (application programming interface) tracked over 4000 voyages, and all the tracking data is now available for download on www.hri.fi. The results show that the ferries tracked in this pilot have a high reliability and are often able to depart ahead of the schedule (9 minutes on average). When given access to ferries’ position and identification data (AIS), FinEst API can be replicated to other ports and shared with operators in need of real-time tracking of the ferries.

Before the project started, peak driving times for the first kilometer out of the port were measured to last over 50 minutes. To reduce the driving times, Infotripla created Harbour’s PSO – Predicted and Smooth Outbound Traffic, a real-time and predictive traffic information system for the West Harbour area. With alerts on the accumulating traffic volumes in the port, the traffic management is now able to take control of the traffic queues in a proactive manner and to even out traffic peaks with the help of traffic lights. Thanks to the service modularity, it is also easily adaptable to new environments and can apart from serving traffic management operators also serve passengers with routing suggestions in heavily trafficked areas.

Kyyti Group piloted a smart co-riding service Kyyti with focus on the passenger flows between Helsinki West Harbour and Helsinki Airport/Aviapolis district. The solution is a Mobility-as-a-Service platform with integrated on-demand ride sharing technology: an application that enables passengers share rides between the two transport nodes, saving time and improving the end-to-end travel experience. This service could also be adapted for other groups sharing their travels, such as daily or weekly commuters, or even hobby groups.

To reduce congestion and the amount of trucks in the city centres, GoSwift developed FinEst Mobility, a smart guidance application that helps truck drivers to plan their way to the harbour while matching their arrival time with a specific ferry departure. With a smart distribution of check-in slots, the application reduces the amount of trucks arriving simultaneously. Available on Google Play in several languages, the solution also saves truck drivers’ and operators’ valuable time when it offers the drivers the most optimal time to depart to the harbor. With integrated city zone restrictions based on vehicle’s weight and/or length, the application has also made it possible to steer the drivers away from the most central addresses in the cities.

 

THESE FOUR SOLUTIONS offer an agile alternative to investments in built environment and show the importance of open data and cross-functional collaboration for qualitative digital services and the end-user experience.

The project has also encompassed cross-border mobility planning and implementation of SUMP (Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan) in Tallinn region, in consultation with Finnish mobility experts. The busy port connection means that actions taken on one side have effects in both cities, why also aiming towards similar goals help in ensuring the overall impact of chosen transport policy. The project has also introduced Digitransit, a Finnish journey planner platform to Estonia, making it possible to plan one’s cross-border travel in one go in the future.

In the big picture, FinEst Smart Mobility solutions translate into smoother travels with less congestion and cleaner air in their area of application. By working together, Estonian and Finnish partners have contributed to a seamless travel experience for all the millions of ferry passengers crossing the gulf on an annual basis.

FURTHER READING

FinEst Smart Mobility project

PROJECT VIDEOS

Video (short version)

Video (long version)