Digital participation in Helsinki: Kerro Kantasi
Kerro Kantasi (Voice your opinion) is a web service maintained by the City of Helsinki for identifying issues and concerns in the city. A questionnaire on the future of the common areas in Malmi and Pukinmäki (Malmin ja Pukinmäen yleisten alueiden suunnitelma 2021–2030) was designed in 2021–2030 to allow people to provide feedback on the area’s draft plan. Using the web service, city residents can voice their opinions by commenting on the various types of projects that are being discussed or already in preparation. Those commenting can pinpoint on the map what they like or dislike, what needs to be worked on, and so on. In this way, further data can be gathered for the area plan.
Description of practice
● Creating questions and choosing the areas that would benefit from feedback from residents and others
● A questionnaire was designed using Kerro Kantasi software and uploaded to the website.
● An online residents’ event was held during the drafting phase of the common areas plan. The remote meeting made it possible to ask questions about the draft through the chat window.
● People commented on the area’s draft plan in Kerro Kantasi and provided feedback. They could pinpoint on the map what they liked/disliked about the area.
● 176 comments were analysed and summarised in a report.
● Changes were made to the public area plan based on the feedback in the comments.
Who is involved
The City of Helsinki maintains the Kerro Kantasi web service. Commenters were mostly residents and visitors to the area or those interested in its future. The area’s landscape architect and a consultant gathered and analysed the comments. Participation planner worked on the questionnaire’s communications and promotional aspects. Traffic planners, area planners and those responsible for managing the forest, meadow and local area were also involved by the City of Helsinki.
Promotion and communication
The questionnaire was promoted in a press release and on the city’s website. The survey was added to the City of Helsinki’s event calendar, and promoted in the Malmi newsletter, on Instagram and in a paid advertising campaign on Facebook. The results were communicated in a similar way. The city published a media bulletin (STT) and an email was sent to stakeholders. A final plan for the public areas was presented to the Urban Environment Board in the spring of 2021.
● Software: Excel, GIS, Kerro kantasi software for questionnaire
● Skills: Qualitative data analysing skill
The online survey for baseline data on the Malmi and Pukinmäki area was open from 12 September to 13 October 2019. The baseline data also comprised the existing results from the Malmi Center Today and Tomorrow (Malmin keskusta tänään ja huomenna) online survey, which was held in 9 November to 9 December 2018. Preparation of the common areas plan began in the spring of 2020.
An updated plan based on feedback from the residents’ event was presented in the New Northeast Helsinki area on 9 December 2020 and made available for comment on the public area plan website (https://www.hel.fi/helsinki/fi/asuminen-ja-ymparisto/kaavoitus/kehittamissuunnitelmat/aluesuunnitelmat) and the Kerro Kantasi service in early 2021. The final plan for public areas was presented to the Urban Environment Board in the spring of 2021.
|Level of participation
|Urban planning challenge(s) tackled
|Governance and institutional Factors
Knowledge and skills
● An option for people to remain anonymous when voicing their opinion encourages more people to comment.
● The software was easy and flexible to use by both citizens and the organisers.
● The participation method was suited to use during the pandemic, as events and workshops were not possible at that time.
● This is an innovative method for leaving feedback about projects because it allows people to leave feedback openly and for it to be available for everyone to read.
● Questionnaire answers can be difficult to understand, especially when people are not specific enough about what area they are talking about. It would have been useful for the commenters to have had an option to add a location.
● The results can never be representative of all the residents – especially those who do not have access to the internet.
● The option of remaining anonymous makes it possible for people to comment many times or to leave inappropriate comments. Kerro Kantasi is developing a method that allows organizers to moderate and flag such comments.
● People are keen to make comments when the area is close to their heart and this method makes it easier for them to voice their opinion.
● It is possible to find out about proposals for new developments in the city and all the communications options; this is a great way to introduce different green infrastructure and their benefits.
Interaction report about the common areas of Malmi and Pukinmäki plan, 2021–2030. (Vuorovaikutusraportti Malmin ja Pukinmäen yleisten alueiden suunnitelma, 2021–2030, in Finnish)
Kerro Kantasi web page https://kerrokantasi.hel.fi/