Future City Challenge

Join us in developing the city of the future!

Together IBM, Digita and Etteplan are organising the first nationwide competition in Finland to design innovative solutions and applications that make everyday life in cities easier. The cities involved in the competition are Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Oulu, Jyväskylä and Tampere. Each city will provide the competing teams with several real-life challenges.

What is the Future City Challenge made of?

Future City

Participants will be granted access to the cities’ open data with the support of Etteplan’s leading IoT expert organisation. Digita will provide participants access to Digita’s IoT network that is based on the nationwide LoRaWAN technology, and IBM will offer the IBM Cloud innovation platform that includes features like the IBM Watson artificial intelligence and IoT platform. In addition to this, participants will have access to the latest tools and resources, and the support of a project team.

The competition is aimed at companies, start-ups and students interested in resolving city challenges. Create your team of people with business and technology skills and creative problem-solving abilities. Participation in this competition does not imply any further commitments, as the cities and teams will negotiate the ownership of any solutions separately.

The competition will kick off in Espoo on Wednesday 22 November. Registration for the competition has ended.

We will also be at Slush – come and talk to us there!
Join the conversation: #FutureCityFi


Why participate?

  • You will get a chance to develop the city of the future through realistic cases
  • You will have access to top-of-the range technologies – such as the Watson artificial intelligence – in order to develop innovative IoT solutions
  • The participants’ starter kit includes a Microchip sensor, access to an IoT network based on the nationwide LoRaWAN technology, an innovation platform for developing solutions, and top-level coaching
  • You will participate in the fast-growing Finnish IoT ecosystem and be showcased as a front-line IoT expert
  • You will have access to the cities’ public data through open interfaces
  • You will have a chance to win fantastic prizes that will give new business models a flying start


  • Each organising city will award their chosen winner with a designated prize
  • The winner of the entire competition will have a chance to present their solution at IBM’s largest customer and partner event in autumn 2018
  • The winning team will have the use of the platform capacity and development services for a year:
    • IBM: Cloud services for a year
    • Digita: free LoRaWAN connections for 1,000 data terminals for the first year
    • Etteplan: Coaching and support services for the development team for a pilot project


Here are the winners from each city category and the winner of the entire competition. Congratulations to all!

Grande winner

Team Heads’n Tails


Read more here

City winners

Team AsiaHound
Team Heads’nTails

1st Prize – 4 000 €
Team DigiaSense

2nd Prize – 2 000 €
Team SLK – Air Watch

3rd Prize – 1 000 €
Team Foodgrid


Team Kielo Innovators

Team Ryhmä Rämä
Honourable mention: Team HAMK/Enermix

Watch the highlights from our Grande Finale event on 14 February at Helsinki City Hall!


Kick off
Wed 22 November 2017

Time: 8:30-12:00
Place: Urban Mill at Startup Sauna, Betonimiehenkuja 3 E [map]
02150 ESPOO
Programme: Launch of the competition

Preliminary agenda

8.30 – 9.00 Registration & breakfast
9.00 – 9.05 Welcome
9.05 – 9.20 Opening (Tuula Antola, Director for Economic and Business Development, Espoo)
9:20 – 9:50 Panel discussion (Executives from IBM, Digita and Etteplan)
9:50 – 10:05 What is the Future City Challenge made of?
10:05 – 10:55 Introducing the city challenges (Espoo, Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Tampere, Vantaa)
10:55 – 12:00 Meet the representatives from cities and organizing companies at their stands

Kick off events in other cities >>

Main event
Wed 14 February 2018

Time: 14:00-18:00
Place: Helsinki City Hall, Pohjoisesplanadi 11-13, Helsinki [map]
Agenda: Announcement of the results
Read more and register here >>


  • 1 October 2017
    Competition website opens
  • 15 October 2017
    City challenges announced on the website
  • 1 November 2017
    Registration for the competition opens on the website
  • 22 November 2017
    Kick-off event
  • 22 November 2017 - 31 January 2018
    Project support services, coaching and meetings in the cities
  • 3 December 2017
    Registration closes on the website
  • 31 January 2018
    Deadline for competition entries
  • 14 February 2018
    Main event – announcement and presentation of the winners and award ceremony

Submitting the challenge description

Thanks for your interest! The competition has ended on January 31.

Find out who the winners are at our final event on February 14 at Helsinki City Hall!
Sign up here >>

Instructions and support materials

Coaching sessions >>

Join the conversation in our Facebook group >>

LoRaWAN support site >>


Instructions for technical implementation and coaching sessions details are available here. Spar your ideas with city representatives. Technical support personnel are available to help with any difficulties in implementation. Technical support site >>

Expect real city challenges

Register for the Kick-off event in Espoo on Wednesday 22 November to learn about all the challenges! Below are some tasters:

Effective services in a smart way – City as a Service

How to build economically, socially, culturally, and ecologically sustainable City of Espoo with well-functioning smart services?

  • 1 Schools in shape
    Schools and day-care centers will have healthy and functional premises, and the number of indoor air issues and emergency transfers will be zero

    Measure and utilize cumulated and later collected data, concerning indoor air issues in purpose to prevent future problems
  • 2 Espoo will be made carbon neutral by 2030
    Promote mobility as a service (MaaS) in Espoo?

    Measure and utilize existing data in purpose to better serve various forms of mobility and their combinations. These include things like mobile chains, as well as data analysis and enrichment.

Espoo will support pilot execution with their chosen winner (max value 10 000 €).

The City of Vantaa welcomes the development teams to join in the development of a digitalising city of the future, with the focus on the inhabitants’ well-being and sense of participation. For the competition, we have created three development challenges for the development teams.

  • 1 Supporting companies locating in Vantaa
    Challenge here is to develop a service, which offers companies valuable information regarding location-based decisions. The developed service would inform the company about the environment, people, traffic and other businesses close by. This centralized knowledge could then be utilized to further develop the vitality and well-being of the operational environment.
  • 2 Proposing a personalized collection of travel and leisure services utilizing different kinds of data
    This challenge offers a chance to develop a service, which displays a personalized collection of travel and leisure possibilities in Vantaa. The collection is created based on the profile of the user and data about services in question. In addition, the service could assist the user in preparation for different activities, for example by taking into account user’s health or the weather.
  • 3 Gamified way to get to know the history of Vantaa
    Challenge here is to develop a gamified experience using for example augmented reality (AR). The solution should allow the users to learn and get excited about the historical environment utilizing data from a museum. Users should also be able to add information relevant to them about the historical locations to the application and share it with other users.

Please download the challenges and data sets here.

Vantaa will reward the four best, tested ideas from the proposals that it selects. The prizes are worth EUR 8,000 in total. (Team 1. EUR 4,000. 2. EUR 1,720, 3. EUR 1,250, 4. EUR 1,000)

Coaching and facilities offered to the participating teams in design and development workshops are provided by the SmartLab Design Laboratory run by the City of Vantaa’s IT Administration and Etteplan. We will be involved in all events held in the Helsinki municipal area, in which we will jointly form successful proposals for solutions meeting urban challenges involving immigration, unemployment, education and ageing, as well as design challenges related to new, diverse working practices. Other key roles will be played by technological developments such as the opportunities generated by artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT and open data as part of digital municipal services.

A dynamic city centre – a vibrant and versatile meeting place

  • 1 How to find meaningful things to do for the youngsters as well as senior citizens?
  • 2 Safe and smart mobility – how to improve the accessibility of the city centre?
  • 3 How to execute safe events and a safe city centre?
  • 4 How to offer testing opportunities for the products of startup companies?
  • 5 What sort of aesthetics and coziness for the different senses are there in the city centre?
  • 6 How to get trash into the trashcans – and not all around the place?

Oulu will award the winning solution with 3000 € and supports pilot execution / testing in the city.

Jyväskylä, embracing resource wisdom

  • 1 Utilisation rate of on-street parking
    Is there parking space available in Yliopistonkatu street when a parent should take their child to a speech therapist? Can this be checked in advance from somewhere? Is it true that all parking spaces are always occupied?
  • 2 Crowdsourcing – behaviour and movement of people in an urban environment
    In what areas of the pedestrian street do people gather, in what day of the week and in what time of the day? How can this be assessed (for example, the telephone network, Bluetooth, cameras)?
  • 3 Real-time monitoring of the number of people using parks, sports facilities and public spaces and attending events
    How many people are there in different areas? Are there a lot of people in, for example, the gym, the swimming hall or the Harju dog-walking route? Is there a way of anticipating this through forecasts and real-time monitoring so that, for example, you could avoid the crowds?
  • 4 Measuring environmental factors such as noise, lighting and moisture, and sharing the information
    What are the circumstances like in, for example, the pedestrian street or near a local sports facility? Is the lighting at the right level? Can any unusual noise be observed (for example, a group of mopedists or a riot)? Can, for example, slipperiness be evaluated on the basis of moisture and the reflection of light??
  • Jyväskylä’s winning solution will be awarded with 6000 € or alternatively a pilot execution. Read more (in Finnish)
  • Challenge 1 With new IoT technologies and services, it is possible to make the energy impact of decisions taken by property users visible to them in close to real time. Studies have shown that users who are aware of their energy consumption (electricity, heat, water) can reduce it by 15–20%. This is true for both professional property managers and private consumers.
    What kind of measurement data should be collected? How should this data be processed and visualised for consumers in the clearest possible format, in order to achieve the above-mentioned savings?
  • Challenge 2 How could the volume and concentrations of drainage water be measured in close to real time? How could the desired persons be alerted about harmful concentrations that exceed limit values?
  • Challenge 3 More detailed information on bus usage is needed as the basis for route planning: Is it possible to track individual customers anonymously? From which stop do customers get on the bus and at which stop do they get off?

Tampere will support pilot execution with the chosen winner.

Welcome to develop and design Helsinki to be the most functional city

Helsinki’s vision is to be the world’s most functional city. In pursuing this vision, it seeks to create the best conditions possible for urban life for its residents and for visitors. The city’s strategic intent is to do things a little bit better every time so as to make the life of Helsinki residents pleasanter and simpler. Helsinki wants to improve things every day.

#1 Future services and the development of urban environment
A functional city means concrete actions, choices and matters that make everyday life smoother for residents. A functional city means that child day care is close at hand, children feel safe walking to school, services for the elderly are easily accessible, and road works are carried out so as to cause minimum disturbance to residents.

  • How to support and improve the development of city services to better respond to the needs of citizens and other stakeholders?
  • How to collect relevant data in the urban environment to support city planning and decision making?
  • How to utilize and visualize data together with open data models and geographical data?
  • Energy company Helen is looking for solutions for preventing mildew in the building process - from design and construction to recycling of materials. How to obtain the building in optimum conditions and the right amount of energy in the right place throughout the building’s lifecycle?

#2 A functional city creates an advanced everyday life
In Helsinki, a functional city leads to a forward-looking everyday life. Helsinki is safe and pleasant, smooth, easy and caring. Helsinki is a resident- and user-oriented city. Each resident – whether young, old or functionally impaired – has the opportunities to lead a quality and eventful life and to receive the support and services needed for all stages in life. A functional city is an advantage for, especially, ageing people and those needing help and support.

  • How to improve safe travelling in the city?
  • How to encourage citizens to move and to improve their well-being?
  • How to improve the appeal, cleanliness and accessibility of the city?
  • How to increase environmental awareness and the ability to make economically reasonable and environmentally friendly daily decisions?

Helsinki encourages competitors to develop such solutions to these challenges, that could also have a commercial potential in the consumer or business markets.

City of Helsinki rewards three best proposals as follows:
1st prize – 4.000€ | 2nd prize – 2.000€ | 3rd prize – 1.000€
In addition City of Helsinki aims to advance the piloting of winning proposals in the city environment (details to be agreed separately with the winning teams).

You can find potential open data for your Future City Challenge 2018 solution here.