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EIT Digital-supported innovation on security of citizens tested in Helsinki

EIT Digital-supported innovation on security of citizens tested in Helsinki

Digital innovation to increase the safety and security of citizens

Innovation developed by EIT Digital and its partners is always aimed at promoting and improving European values and quality of life standards. In the Digital Cities focus area, one of the key targets is increasing the feeling of safety and security of citizens.

A pilot which was conducted in Helsinki at the end of last year has shown how this can be achieved. HexaLight, an IoT based lighting system designed to create an illuminated path for better navigation and wayfinding, was tested in the Hyväntoivonpuisto park of the Jätkäsaari neighbourhood in November 2019, the darkest time of the year in Helsinki.

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The system was developed in the context of the Get Home Safely innovation activity, led by Technical University Berlin’s CyPhyLab and including Forum Virium HelsinkiAalto UniversityFraunhofer HHITelecom Italy and Fluxedo as project partners.

With HexaLight, the lights act as navigation devices which brighten or change colour as the pedestrian approach them: this increases the feeling of safety in dark areas, which generally people perceive as potentially more dangerous. The knee-high lights are also designed to be cosy and visually appealing, making the district more atmospheric and improving the overall pleasantness of the area.

The project has been piloted in Helsinki, Berlin and Matera. The Hyväntoivonpuisto location in Helsinki was selected based on responses to a survey and workshop conducted among the district’s residents in the spring.

The lights were meant to be networked and personalised at the same time: during the test period, in fact, residents were able to download the Skýra mobile application to their phones to change the colour of the park lights to fit their preferences.

The results were positive. The lights delighted and created a sense of security.

Heidi Heinonen, Project Manager at Forum Virium

In addition to making people feel safer, the system could be leveraged by other stakeholders.

Through the system, facility operators and security agencies, for instance, could gain in-depth insights of movement patterns in specific areas, especially in the evenings and at night.

In other future scenarios, these smart and connected lights could also be used by city administrators or event organisers to monitor crowd movements in busy areas and to guide, if necessary, people to a less congested route.