London and Helsinki to collaborate on AI and smart cities
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
L-R: Theo Blackwell and Mikko Rusama at City Hall in London; credit: Greater London Authority

London and Helsinki’s chief digital officers (CDOs), Theo Blackwell and Mikko Rusama, respectively, have signed the City to City Digital Declaration, which sets out several areas of cooperation in the fields of artificial intelligence, open data, and digital innovation.

The two capitals will collaborate on:

  • the ethical use of data and artificial intelligence for better citizen engagement and improved public services;
  • sharing knowledge of artificial intelligence and its use in smart city solutions;
  • learning from successful data sharing approaches across public services, 3D city modelling and the concept of ‘digital twins’; and
  • encouraging digital innovation by supporting entrepreneurs and citizens to collaborate.

More than a third of all Europe’s tech giants are based in London and contribute in excess of £56 billion to the UK economy. Helsinki, Finland’s capital, produces almost 50 per cent of the technology sector’s turnover in the country and more than half of Finland’s IT companies are based in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

Both cities have recently set out plans to mobilise their talent, assets, and data to improve their residents’ quality of life and seek to share best practices and expertise to meet social, environmental and economic challenges.

Theo Blackwell, London’s CDO, said: “London has made huge advances in the application of data and smart technologies for the benefit of those who live, work or visit here. We should always embrace the opportunity to share our civic tech innovations, particularly with fellow European cities, as we are demonstrating through the Sharing Cities initiative.

“This Digital Declaration sets out a formal framework for co-operation between Helsinki and London to develop our respective in-house expertise and links with the tech sector to use city data to improve the lives of our citizens. I hope this will act as template for future collaboration between London’s civic tech pioneers and those internationally.”

Mikko Rusama, Helsinki’s CDO, said: “Helsinki’s vision is to be the most functional city in the world that makes the best use of digitalisation. Developing our data and AI capabilities and assets are important enablers to this vision. Helsinki has been one of the leading cities in opening up and promoting the use of open data.

“Ethical and transparent use of data and AI will be essential in building trust. We want to collaborate with leading cities like London on common challenges cities are facing. This declaration is a starting point for a deepening collaboration between Helsinki and London.”


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