• How to Make Helsinki the World’s Best City with Help of Tactical Urbanism

    4 elo 2017
    Otto-Wille Koste

    Something has changed in our cities. People are moving to cities for their dynamic street life and elegant and personal services. At the same time we are building more and bigger units than ever. This creates a widening gap between large-scale developments and people’s willingness to mould their surroundings. Newly built areas take centuries to develop into lively cities that people appreciate.

    There is a new approach – tactical urbanism – that promises to bridge this gap.

    Short-term, community-based projects—from pop-up parks to open streets initiatives—have become a powerful and adaptable new tool of urban activists, planners, and policy-makers seeking to drive lasting improvements in their cities and beyond. These quick, often low-cost, and creative projects are the essence of the Tactical Urbanism movement.

    On Friday 18th Demos Helsinki and European Commission Representation in Finland invite all urbanists, planners, builders, technologist, investors and architects to RE:vitalizing Cities co-creation session at YIMBYcon to join in combining strategic urban development with everyday life. The session is free and snacks will be served, so please let us know, if you will be there, by signing in the Eventbrite.

    RE:vitalizing Cities session will launch with distinguished keynotes from Mike Lydon and Kaisa Schmidt-Thomé. Presentations will be commented from multidisciplinary point of views by Juha Kostiainen, Timo Mäkelä, Pauliina Seppälä and Olli Voutilainen. The session is part of YIMBYcon, an international event that brings together urban-minded people to exchange thoughts, ideas and lessons on developing cities. Main event: YIMBYcon 2017 – an event for networking and creating change.


    Mike Lydon is an internationally recognized planner, writer, speaker, and advocate for livable cities. He is the principal of Street Plans, an award-winning urban planning, design, and research/advocacy firm and the creator of the The Open Streets Project. With Tony Garcia, Lydon is the recipient of the 2017 Seaside Prize and co-author of Tactical Urbanism (Island Press, 2015), named by Planetizen as one of the top ten planning books of the year. He collaborated with Andres Duany and Jeff Speck in writing The Smart Growth Manual (McGraw-Hill, 2009).

    Kaisa Schmidt-Thomé, senior researcher from Demos Helsinki, has a long research career in the field of Urban Studies. She did her PhD dissertation at Aalto University about tension between urban development megaprojects and place-based regeneration. Lately Schmidt-Thomé has been interested in co-creative research done together with stakeholders.

    Juha Kostiainen, M.Sc. (Eng.), Ph.D.(Adm.), is Senior Vice President of Sustainable Urban Development at YIT Oyj and its Member of Group Management Board. He is a passionate and practical urbanist with urban development experience from academia, business and the public sector.

    Timo Mäkelä has worked on environmental, finance and sustainable development issues for the last 40 years in a wide range of organizations in the national and international context.  In 2015 he joined Sitra as a senior advisor on issues related to energy and climate, sustainable management of natural resources, circular economy and environment finance.

    Pauliina Seppälä is one of the founders of Yhteismaa ry, the organisation behind concepts such as Cleaning Day and Nifty Neighbor. She is also a partner and employee at the Mesenaatti.me crowdfunding service. In 2016, Seppälä was selected as the social scientist of the year.

    Olli Voutilainen works with urban development policy in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland. Olli also has a long-term international working experience on EU collaboration on urban issues as well as on key European funding instruments for cities.


    For further informtion
    Facebook event
    Johannes Mikkonen, Demos Helsinki,  0405694948, johannes.mikkonen@demoshelsinki.fi
    Otto-Wille Koste, Demos Helsinki 0405217122, otto-wille.koste@demoshelsinki.fi

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  • Muuttoliikkeen muna-kana-ongelma – BEMINEn tutkimustulokset herättivät kansainvälistä kiinnostusta

    21 kesä 2017
    Otto-Wille Koste

    Kaupunki- ja aluetalouksien tutkijat ovat pitkään yrittäneet selvittää perustavanlaatuista kysymystä siitä, houkuttelevatko kasvavat alueet työpaikkoja, vai muuttavatko ihmiset alueille työn perässä. Vastaus ei ole aivan yksinkertainen, vaan siihen vaikuttaa myös ratkaisevasti työn laatu, selviää BEMINEn tutkimuksesta.

    Tulokset ovat herättäneet huomiota mediassa mm. Ruotsissa. Umeån yliopiston professori Olle Westerlund kertoo Dagens Nyheterin haastattelussa, että vallalla ollut käsitys siitä, että taloudelle tärkeät luovan luokan työt tulevat alueille, joilla asuu paljon korkeasti koulutettua ja luovaa väkeä, on turhan yksinkertaistettu malli: ”Alueille, joilla on ollut tarjolla yksinkertaisempia töitä, on viisi vuotta myöhemmin muuttanut paljon ihmisiä, joiden tausta on luovemmassa työssä.”

    Myös luovan luokan esiinmarssin isä Richard Florida käsitteli tuoreita tutkimustuloksia artikkelissaan CityLabissa. Hän kiinnitti huomiota erityisesti pohtimaan, mikä on sen taustalla, että työpaikat houkuttelevat aina ihmisiä, mutta ihmiset työpaikkoja vain, kun sekä korkeakoulutettu sektori että matalammin koulutettu sektori ovat edustettuina työmarkkinoilla.

    Tutustu myös keskustelua herättäneeseen tieteelliseen artikkeliin: Østbye, S., Moilanen, M., Tervo, H. & Westerlund, O. (tulossa). The Creative Class: do Jobs follow People or do People follow Jobs? Regional Studies


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  • PLANNNING REDEFINED research symposium 16th-18th August 2017

    20 kesä 2017
    Johannes Mikkonen

    The 8th Nordic planning research symposium of the PLANNORD network will be held in Aalto University Töölö Campus, Helsinki, on August 16th–18th 2017, with the overall theme ‘Planning Redefined’. A PhD workshop on August 15th 2017 will precede the symposium.

    The 2015 symposium in Stockholm held the theme ‘Planning in Crisis/Crisis in Planning’, discussing the challenges posed to planners and their institutions. The identified challenges related to, among others, legitimacy, knowledge, and effectiveness of planning in the face of new modes of governance, market-driven urbanization and climate change. In Helsinki, this discussion will be continued, and new responses proposed, including efforts to reform planning institutions, emerging forms of agency in planning, new instruments of knowledge management, and new experiments in, and evidence from adding agility and harnessing creativity in planning. Is planning being redefined, shifting agency and capability to new forums, roles and resources that the planners themselves need to identify in order to make a lasting difference? How are these challenges and opportunities to be understood especially in the Nordic context? Planning is driven by demand, but are the planners and planning institutions still on board?

    Keynote speakers:

    • Louis Albrechts, professor of planning, University of Leuven
    • Patsy Healey, professor of town and country planning, Newcastle University
    • Helena Leino, senior lecturer of environmental policy, University of Tampere
    • Willem Salet, professor of urban and regional planning, University of Amsterdam


    Welcome to PLANNORD 2017!

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  • 3 myths about polycentric urban development

    7 kesä 2017
    Petter Næss

    Planning policy documents increasingly promote the ‘polycentric city’ as a model for sustainable urban development, not the least in Finland.  There seems to be a widespread assumption that polycentric intra-metropolitan settlement patterns with compact, transit-oriented cities and neighborhoods will reduce travel distances, discourage car driving and promote the use of public and non-motorized modes of travel. But how well do these assumptions fit with state-of-the-art knowledge about the influences of land use on travel?

    Will polycentric urban development reduce travel distances?

    The short answer is to this question is no. Residents travel on average longer distances for commuting as well as most other trip purposes the farther away from the main center of the urban region they live – up to a turning point beyond which travel distances tend to be reduced if the residential distance to the city center increases even more (Figure 1). This has to do mainly with the greater concentration and density of workplaces, stores and other facilities in the inner than in the outer parts of the metropolitan areas. The more or less radial structure of the main road and rail networks and the fact that the point of gravity of all trip destination addresses in the region is usually located close to the main city center also contribute to this.

    Figure 1: Curve showing how commuting distances tend to vary with among workforce participants living at different distances from the city center of Oslo. N = 1160. Source: Data from the RESACTRA project.

    Proponents of polycentric urban development might argue that travel distances among suburbanites could be reduced if more workplaces and service facilities were decentralized. While it is true that non-specialized facilities such as grocery stores, primary schools and kindergartens should preferably be located close to the residential neighborhoods they are intended to serve, decentralization of specialized facilities will only lead to longer travel distances. This is especially so for specialized workplaces. Decentralizing of workplaces to a suburban sub-center may reduce commuting distances among the local residents, but most companies recruit their employees from a much larger geographic area than the local neighborhood. There is little overall variation between workplaces located at different distances from the city center in average commuting distances, although employees of workplaces close to a second-order center do commute shorter distances than employees at other peripheral workplaces.

    Will polycentric urban development discourage car driving?

    In most city regions, decentralizing residential development to polycentric nuclei contributes to more car driving than if the new dwellings were built as inner-city densification. Although suburban residents living close to a second-order center travel less by car than suburbanites living far away from a second-order center do, especially if they live in the outer suburbs, their car travel distances are substantially longer than those of their inner-city counterparts (Figure 2).
    Figure 2: Weekly travel distance by car for commuting and seven non-work purposes among workforce participants living at different distances from the city center of Oslo and from the closest second-order center. N = 1061. Source: Data from the RESACTRA project.

    Increasing the jobs-housing balance in the suburbs by decentralizing jobs will not decrease car driving, but increase it. Accessibility by car is usually much easier in the suburbs and exurbs than in the inner city. In the suburbs, roads are normally wider and less congested, with fewer light-regulated crossings and easier parking conditions. As a result, the proportion of employees and visitors who travel by car to outer-area jobs and service facilities is much higher and overall distances commuted by car longer than for workplaces and facilities located in the inner city, even for job locations close to second-order centers (Figure 3).

    Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 14.20.01
    Figure 3: Proportions of regular car commuters (to the left) and mean weekly distance commuted by car (to the right) among employees of workplaces located at different distances from the city center of Oslo and from the closest second-order center. (Please notice that no workplaces located closer than 2 km from the city center of Oslo are located less than 1 km from the closest second-order center.) N = 1160. Source: Data from the RESACTRA project.

    Will polycentric urban development promote the use of public and non-motorized modes of travel?

    Mirroring the different shares of car commuting among employees of workplaces differently located, the proportions of regular public transport commuters are much lower at suburban than at centrally located workplaces (Figure 4). This is true also when the suburban workplace is located close to a second-order center, although such proximity contributes to somewhat higher shares of public transport commuters than among the employees of other peripheral workplaces.

    Figure 4: Proportions of regular public transport commuters among workforce participants living at different distances from the city center of Oslo and from the closest second-order center. N = 1160. Source: Data from the RESACTRA project.

    A similar pattern exists for non-motorized travel. Measured as the share of total travel distance, there is a steep center-periphery gradient, also among residents living near a second-order center (Figure 5). Living close to a second-order center still contributes to higher proportions of non-motorized travel among the suburban residents.

    Figure 5: Non-motorized proportion of total travel distance for commuting and seven non-work purposes among workforce participants living at different distances from the city center of Oslo and from the closest second-order center. N = 1061. Source: Data from the RESACTRA project.


    Polycentric intra-metropolitan settlement patterns with compact, transit-oriented cities and neighborhood perform better, judged from a sustainable mobility perspective, than ordinary outward urban spatial expansion does. However, polycentric development is far less favorable than densification close to the main city center if the aim is to reduce travel distances, discourage car driving and promote public and non-motorized travel. Polycentric intra-metropolitan urban development is likely to increase car travel per capita instead of reducing it.

    Professor Petter Næss, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. E-mail: petter.nass@nmbu.no

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  • Do you really want your mobility on a whim?

    15 touko 2017
    Milos Mladenovic

    A reflection on the questions of MaaS scalability


    Somewhere on planet Earth, a human wonders.  

    This traffic is not moving at all. This is horrible!

    Those damn transport engineers! Why cannot they figure this out and solve congestion?! It is 2017! We should be having flying cars by now…

    How was that thing called again? MaaS? Anyway, it would certainly be great to have it now. I could just take a taxi ride, and perhaps manage to reply some of those emails from this week.

    Why are we not having that already?! We can certainly figure out all the necessary data integration. Most of our systems across the city are going digital anyway.

    In one click, I could choose my trips. Then I could just use the system whenever I want and however I want. And then I just get a bill at the end of the month.

    That would make my life so much easier. And I bet all my friends would love to have the same thing. Simply, on-demand transport service.

    Hmm… Wait a second. If all my friends join in, that might be quite good. But what if a lot of people joins in? Or even all the people?

    At that scale, how will the system make sure that we all get the service that we need in that particular moment? As I am traveling to work, there are also a lot of people who are traveling to work. And at the same time there are people traveling to school, to the airport, to the grocery store, to see a friend, or who knows where else. There might be even a person going to the hospital because of a broken leg or because she is having a baby.

    That is a lot of people with so many different needs. And some other day, their needs might be completely different. Just as some other morning I might be having one of those meetings that start sharp at 9.

    Then, what about traffic? Certainly telecomm network has a bit of different properties from traffic network? I mean, is it that easy to linearly add more bandwidth just like in the Internet networks? And Internet has routing protocols that determine how data moves across the network. Is that even possible for traffic?   

    In addition, I remember reading somewhere that traffic networks have a certain maximum value of traffic that they can sustain before getting into congestion. And I remember that going into congestion is much easier as opposed to going out of congestion. So those dynamics certainly complicate the situation. 

    Perhaps this is not as easy as it seems. If we have all those people with different needs, that all want all to travel at the same time without much thinking about their mobility, will it be possible that everybody gets a promised service?

    Certainly, it will be quite difficult to accomplish this without delaying and routing some people on the network? And who is to determine that some of us will arrive on time while some will have to be delayed?

    Then, what if not all the people join the system? There might be some people who cannot afford to pay for this service. And if we do not know their travel requests, how can we account them in traffic predictions?

    Hmm… This seems more complex than I imagined. No wonder why we don’t have the system at scale yet.

    Anyway, why am I worrying about this? Certainly, there has to be someone responsible who is thinking about the same things?

    Somewhere on planet Earth, a human waits in congestion, while staring at the sea.


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  • Connections within diversity – How to break the silence around multiculturalism?

    29 huhti 2017
    Kaisa Schmidt-Thomé

    If we want to break the silence around multiculturalism in Finnish urban planning, we need to develop vocabulary for it. The people involved in urban planning will also have to start thinking in terms of relations – between people.

    The future of our country will be multicultural, as Kimmo Lapintie wrote in his BEMINE blog text in February (Lapintie 2017). While the natural growth rates are low, the population growth is already based entirely on immigration. Considering this, it is indeed remarkable that multiculturalism considerations have remained absent in the urban and regional planning documents (Lapintie 2014). According to Lapintie, this reflects the bio-political nature of urban planning which is ”interested in people as population groups with biological features, such as age, gender, fertility, health and disability.” He would like to see a new understanding that brings in the cultural and social features instead of focusing on the variables such as the size and productivity of the population.

    What if we took on the challenge of creating a post-biopolitical planning? How should we grasp the socio-cultural diversity and cultural as well as religious differences conceptually? The terminology is not established, and there are not that many Finnish words available for the vocabulary. Besides multiculturality/-culturalism (monikulttuurisuus) one can talk about interculturality and transculturality – both of which might translate as ’kulttuurienvälisyys’. But does it really matter which words we pick? My point is that it helps if you pay attention to the concepts and their different burdens in terms of connotations. What may suit a more contextual discussion might not be that well-placed when talking about encounters between citizens.

    Multiculturalism can be understood as the recognition of co-existence of a plurality of cultures within the context of a nation (state). In this discourse the common understanding is that different cultural groups are awarded equitable recognition (Stratton et al. 2001). That would sound like a great achievement already in many countries, wouldn’t it? However, such a society might still consist of parallel ’realities’ where encounters across the divides would be few. It could also mean that people remain locked within the circles that they allegedly belong to. The question then is, how can the different social and ethnic groups be recognised without being essentialized?

    Interculturality helps us here because it focuses on relations. It shares the recognition of difference and equality included in the multiculturalism discourse, but it brings in the principle of positive interaction. It centres individuals and institutions instead of focusing on the relations between fixed cultural groups. The focus on relations helps to avoid ‘ethnicizing’ cultural differences. The intercultural character of a society is a matter of cultural diversity as a whole, not only a matter for those who are allegedly different from some assumed unity within the society. As everyone is someone else’ s Other, interculturality is everyone’s issue (Guilherme & Dietz 2015).

    But let’s get back to urban planning. Should it become more aware of multiculturalism or try to promote intercultural encounters? In my view, these two tasks should complement each other. Building on Kymlicka’s (2003) model, I would like to see a combination of intercultural citizens and institutions operating in the multicultural cities. Urban planning would in this context be much about getting rid of the barriers that prevent groups from receiving equitable recognition. However, of at least equal importance, from my point of view would be the creation of encounters. By that I don’t mean only that planners would have to know how to provide spaces of encounter. First and foremost, they should be able to feel for the ’full’ individuals instead of their bio-political reductions, as Lapintie might refer to the end-users whose multiple affinities are currently not taken into account.

    In order to manage the diversity and maintain individuals’ equal access to resources, major institutional reforms – even radical intercultural openings (Terkessidis 2010) – are needed. This would mean also that (planning) education has to be rethought. Here I do not mean providing people with ‘recipes’ of accurate behavior in given intercultural contexts (Guilherme 2013 ) nor schooling students as if the intercultural competences drastically differed from the intracultural ones. Rather, I call for more diversity-awareness and self-reflexivity as well as for making new connections within the existing diversity.

    In cities that are bundles of different pasts, no single type of existence can represent “normality”. Unlike the nation states that still try to stick to some largely imagined shared past, cities have to be prepared to share the future, by creating connections within the diversity.



    Guilherme, M. (2013). Intercultural competence. In Byram, M. & Hu, A. (Eds.) Encyclopaedia of language teaching and learning. London: Routledge. Pp. 346–349.

    Guilherme, M. & Dietz, G. (2015). Difference in diversity: multiple perspectives on multicultural, intercultural, and transcultural conceptual complexities. Journal of Multicultural Discourses 10:1, 1-21.

    Kymlicka, W. (2003). Multicultural states and intercultural citizens. Theory and Research in Education 1:2, 147–169.

    Lapintie, K. (2014). Miksi monikulttuurisuus ei mahdu suunnittelijan suuhun – eikä päähän? Yhdyskuntasuunnittelu 52:3. http://www.yss.fi/journal/miksi-monikulttuurisuus-ei-mahdu-suunnittelijan-suuhun-eika-paahan/

    Lapintie, K. (2017). Three invisible things in Finnish urban planning III: multiculturalism. Blog post of the BEMINE project 14.2.2017. http://bemine.fi/three-invisible-things-in-finnish-urban-planning-iii-multiculturalism/

    Stratton, J., Ang, I., & Bennett, D. (2001). Multicultural imagined communities: Cultural difference and national identity in the USA and Australia. In Multicultural States: Rethinking Difference and Identity.

    Terkessidis, M. (2010). Interkultur. Edition Suhrkamp.

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  • Urban Forum II – Kysymyksiä ja vastauksia kaupunkiseutujen tulevaisuudesta

    12 huhti 2017
    Emmi Venäläinen

    4,5 miljoonaa suomalaista asuu kaupunkiseuduilla eli joko keskuskaupungeissa tai niiden läheisessä vaikutuspiirissä. Tämä näkyy muun muassa palveluelinkeinojen roolin kasvussa sekä alueellisissa eroissa ihmisten osaamisissa ja kyvykkyyksissä. BEMINE-tutkimushankkeen toinen, maaliskuun lopussa pidetty, Urban Forum kokosi kaupunkien suunnittelijat ja  asiantuntijat yhteen pohtimaan, mitä erilaiset urbanisaation trendit tarkoittavat kaupunkiseutujen kehittämisen näkökulmasta.

    Tilaisuudessa keskusteltiin, millaista tukea evidenssipohjainen tieto ja yhteiskehittäminen voivat tarjota kaupunkisuunnitteluun ja päätöksentekoon. Mihin suuntaan seudullinen yhdyskuntarakenne kehittyy? Miten muuttoliike muovaa kaupunkiseutuja? Seuraavatko työpaikat luovia ja osaavia ihmisiä kaupunkiseuduilla? Kuinka oikeanlaista empatiaa voidaan lisätä päätöksenteossa?

    Professori Hannu Tervo Jyväskylän yliopiston kauppakorkeakoulusta kertoi forumissa kaupungistumisen tämänhetkisestä kehityksestä. Tällä hetkellä peräti 4,5 miljoonaa suomalaista asuu kaupunkiseuduilla eli joko keskuskaupungeissa tai niiden läheisessä vaikutuspiirissä.

    Kaupungistuminen on syönyt niin kutsuttujen reuna-alueiden kasvua voimakkaasti 1970-luvulta asti. Tervon mukaan palveluiden rooli on tärkeä kaupunkiympäristöissä. Niiden ihmiset muuttavat palveluiden perässä. Samalla Tervo totesi, että myös työpaikat seuraavat jossain määrin väestön liikettä. Korkeasti koulutetut vetävät alueelle myös työpaikkoja ja palveluita.

    VTT:n johtava asiantuntija Juha Honkatukia avasi puheenvuorossaan urbanisaation taloudellisia trendejä. Honkatukian mukaan on syytä muistaa, että suunnittelu ja aluetalouden tapahtumat kulkevat käsi kädessä. Honkatukia nostaa väestön liikkumisen yhdeksi tärkeimmistä trendeistä. Liikkuminen johtaa eri alueiden eroihin ihmisten osaamisen ja kyvykkyyden perusteella. Esimerkiksi Etelä-Pohjanmaalla on nähty alueellisesti uusia kasvukeskittymiä osaavan väestön muuttoliikkeen seurauksena.

    Honkatukia korostaa, että biotalouteen liittyvä politiikka voi myös ohjata uusien mahdollisuuksien äärelle. Hänen mukaansa biotaloustuotteiden taloudelliset vaikutukset ulottuvat tuotantopaikkojen lähelle, sillä tuotteita ei voida kuljettaa kovin kauas. Tämän vuoksi biotalouden vaikutukset perifeeristen alueiden kehitykselle voivat olla merkittäviä. Seminaarin kaikki esitykset löytyvät täältä.

    BEMINE-hankkeen yhtenä tavoitteena on käyttää tutkimustietoa konkreettisten työkalujen kehittämiseksi kohti kestävää ja eri sektorit yhdistävään kaupunkiseutujen suunnitteluun.Tämä työ käynnistettiin forumin co-creation -työpajoissa, joissa osallistujat pääsivät kehittämään prototyyppejä kestävän kaupunkisuunnittelun työkaluista. Kooste työpajoista on luettavissa täällä.

    Seuraava Urban Forum järjestetään syksyllä 2017. Tervetuloa!

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  • Sharing – more common than ever & an integral step on our way to sustainable consumption

    5 huhti 2017
    Emma Terämä

    The collaborative economy was propelled into global limelight thanks to wide-spread platform economy businesses such as Über and Airbnb. Also known as the ‘sharing economy’, the concept floats somewhere between theory and practice, business and not-for-profit.

    Particularly scant thus far I have found the coverage of the potential of the sharing or collaborative economy in advancing the environmental agenda, or to use some more buzzwords, the circular economy and sustainability agendas. I would like to see these fields come together in theory, but also in practice.

    Let me give you some examples.

    A North-American non-profit car sharing scheme published in their 2013 fact sheet stunning environmental impacts: saved carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions (nearly 200 million kg in two years), saved miles driven, and saved fuel consumption. On top of these positive impacts the added benefits of car sharing include reduced congestion, reduced numbers of cars bought and reduced consumer costs (see e.g. here).

    The global car sharing company Zipcar boasts 10 percent of members get rid of a car after joining, and 32 percent of users (they just passed the 1 million user mark last year) would have purchased a vehicle without the presence of the service.

    In a Finnish study findings were even more striking (but sample small): 60 percent of households using car sharing had not owned a car before joining, 30 percent got rid of their car, 20 percent no longer needed to buy a car, and altogether after joining 80 per cent no longer owned a car.

    Even organisations can cut their car mileage and need for fleets via sharing: Croydon council in London has some pretty staggering metrics on their partnership with Zipcar. Another fact sheet (in German) reminds us that car sharing is also for companies (not just the public sector).

    These examples serve as poignant reminders that strength (and impact) lies in numbers.

    Many car sharing companies (for profit or not) are making green investments in their fleet: interest in electric vehicle (EV) schemes is climbing. Also several initiatives in Europe aim at reducing CO 2 emissions from passenger vehicles, with one potential option being the deployment of EVs (Norway leads, Netherlands is runner-up).

    Consumers’ (you and I) perception and willingness to purchase EVs lies at the heart of its potential to ‘go big’. The more we trust the message (e.g. on sustainability or ‘goodness’ of the EV as opposed to a combustion engine car), the more likely we are willing to pay, and eventually obtain one for ourselves. But even if we choose not to, there are options to support the ‘goodness’.

    From a sustainable mobility perspective, the combination of sharing and EVs makes sense. For an individual it may be more difficult to make the EV investment, with its (still) higher price, limited range (battery) and subsequent lack of fulfilment of all their transport needs as compared with a traditional combustion engine vehicle. But with increasing car sharing and mobility as a service (MaaS) options, we may not need to own our cars much longer.

    When it comes to the collaborative economy, car sharing only scrapes the surface. We could do much more ‘sharing’ that would leave the environment as well as our wallets in better state. Instead of increasing our material possessions, we can increasingly opt for services that deliver the same – or even better – product or outcome but via a service rather than material possessions. MaaS (mobility as a service and related platforms) is an example of this.

    Sharing of power tools illustrates the idea of making better use of idling assets perfectly. Better utilisation of existing resources equals less need to use (virgin) resources in manufacturing new ones. This is environmental and resources sustainability at its core. Not all ‘things’ require huge amounts of rare earth elements to make (as do for instance mobile phones), but if less ‘things’ were needed, a lot of material would be saved. Not to mention CO 2 from transport (logistics) and electricity generation (again, manufacturing).

    Whilst individual behaviour change (our everyday choices) is important when it comes to personal consumption – often considered a difficult thing to do on large scale – the question about the benefits of the collaborative economy is also about the possibility to improve practices within the wider system. It is, after all, total consumption that drives markets (up, down or reinvention!), like voting that drives politics.

    Governments (national as well as local) have a role to play in supporting, even ‘nudging’ individuals, businesses and communities in this positive impact game: Who is the first to invent the best, most pragmatic and exciting solutions? When will the solutions be not only superior to the ones we have today, but a ‘must-have’ or rather ‘must-use’? The collective choice to use these initiatives will propel us all to a new consumption regime, benefitting everyone.

    We are also setting an example for the next generations. In this, I strongly prefer not to follow my parents’ generation (the big cohorts born in late 40s, early 50s), as they seem to me to be the most consumerist of us all. We can all get by with a lot less, and that path can be taken and re-taken every day.

    With the help of a little perseverance, some good governance, and a sharing (caring) attitude, we can make better economic and environmental decisions across society. Collaboratively.



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  • 3 Critical Questions on Cost-Benefit Analysis

    3 huhti 2017
    Milos Mladenovic

    Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is a core practice in international transport planning, primarily used for ex ante project appraisal. In the Finnish context, CBA is part of the larger framework for transport project appraisal, the so-called YHTALI-framework, which includes other elements, such as environmental impact assessment.

    As an economic method, CBA has its advantages in measuring the economic aspects of infrastructural alternatives. A particular importance stems from the common sense principle that we should take actions only when their benefits exceed their costs, as reality of decision-making is always situated in a context of constrained monetary resources. Moreover, there is a certain usefulness in using monetary values as a common reference point, especially for comparison between different projects.

    Despite its dominance in transport planning practice, CBA has been extensively critiqued from a range of different aspects. For example, one of the recognized issues is “double-counting”, as there is a possibility that certain impacts are included two or even three times in an appraisal. Moreover, just as any other analytical tool, CBA can suffer from a range of other issues, such as incorrect input parameters or lack of transparency in analytical processes.

    However, besides these issues, I would highlight three critical questions that arise from using CBA in transport planning.

    The first question is – can we use CBA to decide about, often non-quantifiable, quality of life parameters? For answering this question, we have to recognize that measuring quality of life is intrinsically difficult to quantify, especially in terms of monetary effects. Even if this issue is addressed by using qualitative approaches, we run into the so called ‘horse and rabbit stew’ problem, where if you take one horse and one rabbit, no matter how you combine them the taste of the horse dominates the stew. Similarly, quantitative impacts may end up dominating the decision-making procedure.

    The second critical question is – can we use CBA in decisions with high level of uncertainty? Nowadays, it is more difficult than ever to think about possible and desirable futures, due to the increasing complexity of our infrastructural systems. This uncertainty about the future is even more prominent when we start facing decisions regarding emerging technologies, such as self-driving vehicles or Mobility-as-a-Service. The difficulty in using CBA in such decision-making scenarios is in the fact that the disruption from these technologies does not solely pertain to the transport sector bur rather to the whole society.   

    The third, and certainly not the last, critical question on CBA is – are decisions based on CBA ethical? CBA has often been critiqued for its utilitarian perspective, as the procedure is primarily concerned with maximizing (or minimizing) the net benefits (or costs). Despite the importance of net effects, by subscribing to this narrow conception of social justice, CBA neglects the explicit distribution of costs and benefits across particular segments of society, thus often neglecting the least-advantaged.

    In order to avoid solely facing questions in this brief reflection, one should note that extensive efforts have been spent on developing alternative appraisal approaches, such as multi-criteria analysis (MCA). Moreover, there are even composite frameworks combining CBA and MCA, thus opening opportunities for public participation. However, as the time of easy decisions is behind us (or perhaps has never been there), sustainable, strategic, and integrative planning will have to be cautious about CBA (over)application, while continuing to seek improvements in decision-support methods.

    Further reading:
    Barfod, M. B., & Salling, K. B. (2015). A new composite decision support framework for strategic and sustainable transport appraisals. Transportation research part A: policy and practice, 72, 1-15.
    Martens, K. (2011). Substance precedes methodology: on cost–benefit analysis and equity. Transportation, 38(6), 959.
    Mladenovic, M. N., Mangaroska, K., & Abbas, M. M. (2017). Decision Support System for Planning Traffic Operations Assets. ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 05017001.
    Næss, P. (2006). Cost-benefit analyses of transportation investments: neither critical nor realistic. Journal of critical realism, 5(1), 32-60.
    van Wee, B. (2012). How suitable is CBA for the ex-ante evaluation of transport projects and policies? A discussion from the perspective of ethics. Transport Policy, 19(1), 1-7.

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  • Kaupunkien kasvu – ovatko työpaikat vai ihmiset ensin?

    10 maalis 2017
    Hannu Tervo

    Kasvavatko alueet, kun yritykset luovat työpaikkoja ja ihmiset seuraavat perässä? Vai etsivätkö ihmiset elämiseen laatua ja hakeutuvat mukaville alueille, jolloin yritykset seuraavat saadakseen työntekijöitä ja tarjotakseen palveluita kasvaneelle väestölle?  Kaupunki- ja aluetalouksien tutkijat ovat jo yli puoli vuosisataa pohtineet näitä aluekasvun perimmäisiä syitä. Kysymys on tietenkin kana-munatyyppisestä kiistelystä – tässä tapauksessa siitä, kumpi on ensin, tarjonta vai kysyntä? Kysymyksen pohtiminen auttaa kuitenkin ymmärtämään kaupunkien kasvuprosesseja ja myös sitä, kannattaako kaupunkien kehittämisessään ensisijaisesti panostaa yritysten toimintaedellytyksiin vai asuinympäristöön ja palveluihin.

    Hollannissa tehdyssä meta-analyysissa käytiin läpi useita kymmeniä kysymystä analysoinutta tutkimusta. Meta-analyysi osoitti, että yhtä selkeää vastausta kasvuprosessin luonteesta ei ole. Vaikutusketju, jonka mukaan työpaikat seuraavat ihmisiä, on kuitenkin saanut tutkimuksissa enemmän empiiristä evidenssiä kuin päinvastainen vaikutusketju. Kausaliteetti voi kuitenkin vaihdella eri ajankohtien, alueiden ja työpaikkojen kesken. Useat yhdysvaltalaiset tulokset osoittavat vaikutusketjun kulkevan väestöstä työpaikkoihin, kun monissa Euroopan maissa tulos on ollut päinvastainen. Kanadalaisen tutkimuksen mukaan kaupunkialueiden väestömuutoksia määrittävät sekä taloudelliset tekijät että alueen miellyttävyys, kun maaseutu-alueilla dominoivat vain taloudelliset tekijät.  

    Suomessa kysymystä alueellisen kasvuprosessin luonteesta on analysoitu vain vähän. Jos asiaa kysytään kadunmieheltä tai –naiselta, vastaus lienee jotakuinkin tällainen: ”pysyäkseen leivän syrjässä kiinni täytyy luonnollisesti muuttaa sinne, missä työpaikkoja on”. Asia ei kuitenkaan ole näin yksioikoinen. Tämä tuli ilmi kahdessa BEMINE-hankkeessa valmistuneessa tutkimuksessa, joissa kysymystä analysoitiin ekonometrisin menetelmin. Suomen tilannetta verrattiin myös muihin maihin.

    Suomea koskeva tutkimusten keskeinen tulos on kaksijakoinen: ihmiset keskimäärin ovat seuranneet työpaikkoja, mutta erityisesti taloudellisen kasvun aikana korkeasti koulutetut, luovat ihmiset kuitenkin määrittävät kehityksen suuntaa, sillä työpaikat seuraavat heitä. Lopputulos näyttäytyy kumulatiivisena kasvuprosessina, jossa työpaikka- ja väestökasvu ruokkivat toisiaan. Tämän myös havaitsemme Suomesta.

    Etenkin suurilla, dynaamisilla kaupunkialueilla kasvu on tarjontajohteista.  Tietovaltaisessa, luovassa taloudessa työpaikat seuraavat ihmisiä. Jo nyt ja vielä enemmän vastaisuudessa osaavat, pitkälle koulutetut ihmiset hakeutuvat heitä miellyttäville alueille. Välitön työn saanti ei ole ratkaiseva. Dynaamiset kaupunkialueet voivat tarjota moninaisia kulttuuri- ja vapaa-ajan palveluja ja ylipäätään urbaanin elämänjuoksun vaatimia hyviä elinympäristöjä. Menestyvän kaupunkialueen tulee olla valmis panostamaan vetovoimansa kehittämiseen.

    Aiheesta lisää BEMINE-tutkimuksissa:

    Tervo, H. (2016). Do People Follow Jobs of Do Jobs Follow People? : The Case of Finland in an International Context. Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, 46 (1), 95-109.  http://jrap-journal.org/pastvolumes/2010/v46/jrap_v46_n1_a7_tervo.pdf Open access

    Østbye, S., Moilanen, M., Tervo, H. & Westerlund, O. (tulossa). The Creative Class: do Jobs follow People or do People follow Jobs? Regional Studies


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