Skip to main content

Building a smart campus and digital solutions to promote accessibility and the smooth flow of traffic

Published on 17.3.2021
Tampere University
Tampereen ratikasta on suunniteltu esteetön.
Tampere tram was designed to be accessible for all. Photo: Markku Turunen / Tampere University
The recently launched nationwide Smart Campus programme taps into the potential of digital technologies to enhance the competitiveness of Finnish companies. Tampere University participates in the programme by developing public transport solutions for urban areas. The smart campuses and their ecosystems will also accelerate the development of innovative digital solutions, which are based on the 6G mobile network and other new technologies and geared for entry into the international market.

Funded by the Academic of Finland, the Smart Campus programme is a collaborative effort that involves eight Finnish higher education institutions and serves as a new type platform and a partnership model for innovation activities carried out in cooperation with SMEs.

The Smart Campus ecosystem will be unique even on a global scale. It will not only speed up the digitalisation of our society and the development of smart cities but also promote collaboration between higher education institutions, businesses and cities and strengthen their competitiveness.   

The idea is for smart campuses to be like miniature cities that generate new solutions for the benefit of society. No matter the size of a business, smart campuses will offer companies access to digital services and the latest research knowledge.

“Tampere University has a dual role in the Smart Campus programme. Firstly, we coordinate the four pilot services and the development of the underlying platform. Secondly, we are responsible for the public transport and mobility pilot project which entails the development of solutions, among other things, for rail traffic and the mobility of special groups,” says Markku Turunen, professor of interactive technology in the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences at Tampere University. He leads the pilot project.

“We are developing digital services to support flexible and accessible urban traffic. These solutions will take into account the different modes of public transport, connected public transport systems and smart stops. We are looking to create effective urban transport solutions, improve the travel experience and reduce the emissions generated by private transport,” he adds. 

Working remotely to develop digital traffic solutions

Besides higher education institutions, the smart campus ecosystem can include companies, communities and students – in fact, the general principle is to make the ecosystem openly available to anyone who is interested. Together the stakeholders will support urban development by offering unique high-tech environments that bring together the latest mobile network technologies, AI solutions, sensor technologies and information security.

The Smart Campus programme is a multidisciplinary undertaking that open-mindedly combines the visions of future technology, the latest advancements in service and platform development as well as the education provided by higher education institutions and the new knowledge they generate through research.  

“An interesting aspect of our pilot project is the remote development of digital solutions. The functionality of, for example, interactive screens, smart lighting and 6G solutions can be tested in advance using virtual reality and gaming technology,” Markku Turunen points out.

Researchers at Tampere University are working with South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences to explore the use of digital twins in the context of developing the built environment.

“The digital public transport solutions we develop will be made available to companies. The smart campuses will offer companies access to the latest technology platforms as well as testing facilities and business development tools. This will ensure that the results of the latest research carried out on the smart campuses can be directly utilised to tap into global business opportunities,” Turunen adds.

Pilot projects invite ecosystem participants to provide input and ideas

The tasks assigned to the different partner institutions and the pilot projects included in the Smart Campus programme were specifically selected to strengthen sectors that are particularly important to Finland. Besides the public transport project, Tampere University is coordinating pilot projects focusing on the construction industry, maritime transport, chemical industry and the service sector, respectively.

“We have a range of activities in the pipeline for the ecosystem participants, such as hackathons, innovation workshops and courses. These events will be held in compliance with the current Covid-19 restrictions,” Markku Turunen says.

The Smart Campus programme is coordinated by the University of Oulu. The partners include Tampere University, Lappeenranta – Lahti University of Technology, the universities of applied sciences in Oulu, Turku, Kajaani and Southeast Finland, and Centria University of Applied Sciences.

The two-year Smart Campus programme is backed up by the Allied ICT Finland network made up of 31 higher education institutions, research centres, city-owned business development companies and hundreds of companies. The programme is a part of the Academy of Finland’s 6G Flagship that develops tomorrow’s smart wireless networks, applications and services.

Read more in University of Oulu's press release.