Exploring the Kalasatama District

Every year, Helsinki welcomes thousands of startup founders, team members, potential investors, and supporters to their outstanding SLUSH event. As so many people in Fukuoka are interested in collaborating and doing business with companies from overseas, SLUSH is always a can’t-miss event.

Members of our Fukuoka Smart East team attended SLUSH this past November, joining Fukuoka City’s booth along with several startups from our area. While in Helsinki, we were pleased to meet many people who were interested in the smart city we are building. We were also able to connect with innovators who have creative concepts that may be beneficial to our smart city’s development in the future.

One highlight from our visit to Helsinki was touring the Kalasatama district. This area is being developed into a smart city and was a helpful point-of-reference for us to explore. Since the Fukuoka Smart East team is working hard to create a smart city right here in Fukuoka, members of our team inspected Kalasatama in order to learn more about their facilities and initiatives.

The area is managed by Forum Virium Helsinki, which is a non-profit company run by Helsinki City. Mr. Yamaguchi, a guide from Forum Virium Helsinki, kindly showed us around Kalasatama and explained more about the initiative. It’s an impressive leap toward a city of the future, and a place filled with inspiration.

While Kalasatama started out as a port city, much like our own Hakata area, the port activities eventually moved to another part of Helsinki. After a subway station was built in Kalasatama, the area was selected to be a smart city with a goal of completion by the year 2035. As the city works toward that goal, they are implementing new technologies and initiatives that will improve the lives of the people who live and work in the region.

The area is vibrant and filled with unique solutions nearly everywhere you look. Thanks to a demonstration experiment called Agile Piloting, the Forum Virium Helsinki team was able to evaluate applications for new technology and implement the ones that had clear potential benefits. After six months of testing, if a piloted project was a success, it could be converted into a permanent service. By creating this testing ground for innovation, Kalasatama was able to try out and analyze a wide range of new technologies and positive public services.

Our tour included an explanation of Kalasatama’s unique method of waste collection. Each type of trash is disposed of using a different chute connected to an underground pipeline. Individuals can open the door to the chute using a beacon and then dispose of their trash. That way, information can be collected and logged about the amount and type of garbage being disposed of by each person. Additionally, recycle boxes are also available for collecting plastic bottles. Once you put an empty bottle in, a receipt is printed for you to take to the supermarket and receive a discount. This helps promote recycling and gives people an incentive to remember to do it often.

Kalasatama also has a very forward-thinking concept for children's schooling. There are no classrooms or defined curriculums. Instead, students gather for workshops and learning opportunities. In addition, parents can choose the types of learning activities that their child will participate in, giving them more influence over their child's education. The innovative spaces in Kalasatama also include a Health and Wellbeing service center, plans for smart homes, and flexible working spaces.

It was wonderful to see Kalasatama’s ideas for a smart city, and we were grateful to have the opportunity to take such an informative tour. As our own smart city progresses, it is essential to stay connected to smart cities around the world and learn from their development. We are eager to continue building the future right here in Fukuoka by bringing global ideas to our local community.

CES Las Vegas

The Fukuoka Smart East team is excited to announce that we will have a booth (#521) at CES in Las Vegas this January 7th- 10th. An estimated 180,000 people will attend CES, making it the world’s largest electronics show. At the event, we will introduce our smart city initiative to attendees as well as showcase products from several of Fukuoka’s startups. We look forward to updating you about our participation in a future article.