TALLINN - Models created by researchers will help rebuild Ukrainian cities destroyed in Russia's war of aggression, Estonian President Alar Karis said on Monday when visiting the FinEst Center for Smart Cities, created in cooperation of Finnish and Estonian research and development partners.
"It is smart to listen to recommendations by researchers before we start conducting major reconstructions and changes," Karis said. "I was pleased to see that Estonian and Finnish researchers have modeled solutions that can be tested and that will be of use not just to Estonian and Finnish cities but to the rest of the world as well."
The head of state said that the use of such city planning tools will help prevent planning and development mistakes in small towns in the future.
"Looking forward, we will need to rapidly restore and rebuild Ukrainian cities destroyed in Russia's war of aggression. In this regard, too, the solutions by Estonian and Finnish researchers will prove useful," he said.
"I am very pleased and proud that the Center for Smart Cities, an independent organization in the composition of the Tallinn University of Technology, has gained broader attention with its great objectives and special achievements," TalTech Rector Tiit Land said.
Researchers of the Center for Smart Cities are involved in cooperation projects with the UN and European cities, such as NetZeroCities and UNDP Urban Learning Center. The center is also participating in the areas of cyber security, circular economy and air quality of buildings.
"Bringing the knowledge derived from the projects to Estonia could be the focus of the state's regional policy in the future so that the best practices be introduced for the benefit of our towns and people," head of strategy and partnerships at the FinEst Center for Smart Cities Einari Kisel said.
In addition, the center also introduced its large-scale pilot project which will turn city streets in Tallinn and Finland into laboratories.
"A smart city is more than just technological solutions; instead, the research takes place in the streets. We deliberately picked this approach to be problem-based and bring research-based solutions to the urban environment and people," director of the center Ralf-Martin Soe said.
Six pilot projects will be completed this summer. Their purpose is to develop high-level smart city solutions and introduce them across Europe. The solutions that have been created so far have attracted interest across world -- the urban planning well-being score solution was recently introduced to Munich, and the use of GreenTwins has been discussed with the US state of Michigan.
The export of the solutions created in pilot projects is becoming an important strand of action for the center. Some solutions will be offered by new subsidiaries or licensed to interested companies. Therefore, cooperation between cities, researchers and entrepreneurs is becoming more and more important.
The FinEst Center for Smart Cities began at the end of 2019 with the need to bring the success story of the Estonian digital state to the local level by launching solutions that work across borders in Estonia, Europe and beyond. The center's team consists of researchers from Estonia, Finland and elsewhere in the world.
The FinEst Center for Smart Cities was founded by TalTech, Aalto University, the City of Helsinki innovation company Forum Virium and the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. The center is funded by the European Commission and the Ministry of Education and Research through Horizon 2020 and the European Region Development Fund.