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London and Helsinki agree on digital collaboration


The Greater London Authority (GLA) and the City of Helsinki have signed a ‘City to City Digital Declaration’ to underline closer cooperation on digital issues.

A statement from the executive office of the Finnish capital said they will work together on opportunities presented by artificial intelligence, open data and digital innovation. 

The declaration, signed by London’s Theo Blackwell and Helsinki’s Mikko Rusama (pictured), sets out areas of collaboration including the ethical use of data and AI in public services, sharing knowledge on the use of AI in smart city solutions, and supporting collaboration between entrepreneurs and citizens in digital innovation.

They will also share learnings on data sharing in public services, 3D city modelling and the concept of digital twins.

London is Europe’s leading tech hub, with more than a third of Europe’s tech giants based there and contributing £56 billion to the national economy, while Helsinki produces almost half of the tech sector’s turnover in Finland and has more than half of the country’s IT companies.

Embrace opportunity

London’s chief digital officer, Theo Blackwell, 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.”

Helsinki’s chief digital officer, Mikko Rusama, 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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