A flashmob choral intrusion that took place on one more winter day in the main train station of Helsinki, the capital of Finland. But what are they singling about?
(A flash mob (just to recall and in case you were out shopping at the time) is an unannounced event involving, by all appearance,s an unrelated group of people who suddenly emerge from the shadows and assemble in a public place, perform an unusual and unexplained act for a brief time, then quickly disperse and continue on their ways. As you can just see here.)
Part II. A Finnish story
A bit of context in case you your Finnish history needs a reminder. Here you have a brief introductory text (quickly translate, apologies) to an excellent one hour documentary that has just appeared on Arte, the French/German public television. (Sadly not yet available in English, so you can test your French, German, Finnish and the striking images which tell a story of their own.)
World Streets readers will certainly want to stay on top of this project of the city of Helsinki to come up with what we call a “better than car transportation system”. The excerpts just below taken from an article published in the Guardian yesterday will lead you to the full piece. There is a mild irony to the extent to which the “technological core” of the project has to do with the mobility arrangements which have been receiving steady, and happily increasing, attention since the mid-1960s, namely DRT or Dial-a-Ride. The massive change elements which fundamentally transform and scale up the basic DRT of long past operational system is a combination of close to universal mobile phones, abounding apps, and Big Data. That plus a good dose of public entrepreneurship and outreach changes everything. We invite you to have a look and to share your thoughts with us about this intriguing real world adventure.
The goal of this open collaborative project and crowd sourcing exercise, which spans the period January 2012 to December 2013, is to organize, hold and report on a series of public dialogues in a certain number of host cities and government groups on different continents, meeting with and seeking out the views of a broad cross-section of people, groups and interests who are ready to brainstorm on the concept of equity as a potential base for a new transport paradigm and strategy for the city. Continue reading →
Equity? Hmm. This, it turns out on inspection, is not quite so easy a concept to get across. In English it’s already tough enough. And as I have learned somewhat painfully, it gets even more challenging in many other languages. Here are some late night thoughts on this word that I share with you in the hope it may inspire comments and clarification. So here you have my notes, more or less in the order that they came to mind late in the night.
In the last months of 2011 subject to a series of preparatory discussions, the author was invited to work with the support of a small team of professionals under the direction of the City Planning Department /Transportation in order to organize, carry out, and as appropriate follow up on these open public conversations. We spent close to two months laying the base for the public discussion stage of the project.
During the two weeks in Helsinki we met with almost 200 people representing a broad cross-section of interests and points of view, organized and participated in on the order of twenty interviews and brainstorming dialogues, three half-day master class sessions, and on 27 April a final plenary presentation organized to present and invite first feedback and recommendations on this intensive process. The final presentation was followed by a session of questions from the audience and general discussion, with a brief closing summary of observations and findings made by the Deputy Mayor of Helsinki Pekka Sauri, in charge of Public Works and Environmental Affairs for the city.
One year almost ot the day after the start-up of the first Helsinki project, I have carefully reviewed this original article, slightly rewritten it for clarity, but above all have added a fair number of observations, questions and cautions by distinguished colleagues following this project in many parts of the world. Valuable food for thought for anyone who wishes to get a handle on some of the fundamental issues to be considered for eventual equity-based transportation reform.
Nobody is going to willingly step down on the scale of comfort and economy. Fair enough, so let’s see how we can all step UP in terms of life quality for all with an equity-based transport strategy.
The objective here is to combine vision, policy, technology and entrepreneurial skills in such a way to create and make available to all a combined, affordable, multi-level, convenient, high choice mobility system which for just about everybody should be more efficient than owning and driving a car in or into town. Let us start with this as our goal and then see what is the work that must be done in order to turn it into a reality.