Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2016 - Page 25

THE ANGLE By Anni Sinnemäki The writer is Deputy Mayor of the City of Helsinki for City Planning and Real Estate Helsinki drives growth H elsinki keeps growing. According to estimates, there will be 860,000 people living here by 2050. The City is presently figuring out how it can add 250,000 inhabitants in the coming 35 years. According to zoning plans, the private real estate investments could reach EUR 45 billion by 2050. The required investment for infrastructure and traffic is EUR 10–12 billion. At the core of our growth concept, one finds a compact city structure: in addition to the vibrant downtown area, Helsinki features plenty of smaller-scale urban communities which are linked together via Europe’s best public transportation system. The year 2050 is far away, but already today we are making the decisions that will get us there, using ways that are both smart and sustainable. Urban living in Helsinki involves – more and more – energy-efficient housing, smart grids and low-carbon traffic systems. Yet no community is defined by its technological prowess, but by its people. It’s the people who will transform the city through their actions – both individual and collective – to make it more human-scale. There’s a lot to build on, too. The new housing and working areas currently under construction make Helsinki one of the fastest growing metropolises in Europe. Hel- sinki is a city that encourages open democracy; the City has, for instance, an open data interface which provides free access to the information concerning the City’s decisionmaking, procurements and expenditure. So far, 1,200 City data sets have been opened up for the public – to be used by citizens and companies as they please. This reflects a strategic choice for the City: openness and transparency are key elements of Finnish society, but public administration has not always lived up to this. City officials are now pushing themselves to establish a new type of partnership with the citizens, with information – in all its myriad forms – serving as a driver for this change. In addition to data, Helsinki turns to design in its quest for innovation. As 85 % of Finnish design companies are located in Helsinki, the capital is quite uniquely positioned: by seeking collaboration with design industry players, the City can achieve so much. ‘Design thinking’ can help remove red tape and streamline old, ou