On 2 December 2020, Helsinki opened the first web address with the .helsinki ending. The aim of the new .helsinki sites is to make City of Helsinki online services easier to find and more customer-oriented. The first new site to be opened will be testbed.helsinki, which will introduce visitors to City of Helsinki’s testbed operations and consolidate information about the opportunities companies will have to test their products in collaboration with the City. In Helsinki, the testbeds for new innovations cover a variety of areas, such as health and well-being, learning environments, clean and sustainable urban solutions, and mobility.
A city filled with real-life development environments to benefit businesses and city residents alike
The aim of testbed.helsinki is to support Helsinki’s development and testbed activities in connection to its industrial policy. It is targeted at domestic and foreign companies that want to develop and test their products and services together with City of Helsinki. The site’s other key target groups include research, development and innovation organisations, such as universities, universities of applied sciences, research bodies, Helsinki Group employees and others interested in development activities.
It is quite natural for a city to offer real-life development environments, i.e. testbeds. City of Helsinki provides businesses with development environments for a variety of contexts, such as schools, social and health care units, street network and infrastructure, and city-owned residential and service buildings. For more details on the development environments, visit the testbed site.
Examples of Helsinki as a testbed: 5G connections in education and innovations related to the physical activity of City employees
But how can a city serve as a development platform? Practical examples of Helsinki as a testbed include Elisa’s 5G solution, which is being tested at Helsingin medialukio Upper Secondary School. Pupils can use it to learn about locations outside their school without leaving the classroom, and to enjoy learning as authentically as possible even through remote access. Another example is the City of Helsinki Physical Activity Programme, which aims to find new solutions for promoting physical activity and exercise among City employees in actual operating environments and in cooperation with entrepreneurs in the field.
The entire city serving as a development platform for new solutions is also one of the themes of the Helsinki City Strategy. The idea is to develop the entire city as a platform for pilots and new business activities. At the same time, efforts will be made to scale and further develop the best solutions yielded by the various platforms. The testbed.helsinki website consolidates the relevant information, forming an easily accessible package. The new site will be available in Finnish and English.
“Our site is a significant leap for the accessibility of the trial opportunities provided by the City. Now we have a place where we can invite businesses as well as R&D and innovation experts to learn about our diverse range of platform services. The website provides information about and contacts for learning more about trial opportunities with City of Helsinki. In addition, testbed.helsinki collects together the contact information for our specialists in the various thematic areas,” Chief Advisor Kimmo Heinonen says, clearly pleased with the results.
Adoption of the .helsinki domain will help Helsinki monitor network development in other large cities
Helsinki originally acquired the rights to the .helsinki domain in 2014. The acquisition was made to protect the name ‘Helsinki’, since the main web address Hel.fi does not include the actual name of the city. Helsinki has not used any .helsinki addresses before, but many other cities and companies around the world have begun using their own top level domains. In other words, Helsinki is following an international trend, but the move is unprecedented in the Finnish municipal sector.
“Helsinki’s decision is based on the desire to improve accessibility and awareness with regard to online content that customers find important. We will initially test the top level domain with a number of new services and then assess its functionality and the opportunities it provides for bolstering our city’s international visibility and the Helsinki brand in the online realm,” says City of Helsinki’s Communications Director Liisa Kivelä.
Hel.fi will continue as the address for City of Helsinki’s main website
The new .helsinki pages will not replace the City’s main websites or cause any changes to existing hel.fi addresses. The hel.fi addresses will continue as the City’s primary websites, and extensive development efforts are currently under way to improve their usability and accessibility.
By introducing new .helsinki sites, City of Helsinki aims to harmonise its site naming conventions, reduce the overall number of web pages and offer customers clear and accessible new online services that provide a unified user experience. Other .helsinki sites will also be opened in the near future. The next site to be published will be osallistu.helsinki, which includes information and stories about City of Helsinki’s efforts to engage local residents and interest groups.
Learn more about the Testbed.helsinki pages here: https://testbed.helsinki/en/