Digital participation in Tallinn: AvaLinn

AvaLinn mobile application encouraging co-creation to enable people to experience the landscape architecture solution. Credit: Tallinn Strategic Management Department, Spatial Design Competence Centre.

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In Tallinn, an augmented reality mobile application (Avalinn AR) encourages citizen co-creation and thinking together with the municipality, and the use of new participation methods and tools to find better solutions for the city. The purpose of the smart app is to enable the citizens of Tallinn to experience landscape architecture solutions for the Pollinator Highway (Putukaväil) through augmented reality (AR), alternative art and visualisations of the future for Putukaväil. The app contains interactive information points on a map that highlight possible solutions for developing the public space. Photographs of the current situation are included in the information points alongside visions for the future. It is possible for users to like or dislike, comment on and add their own suggestions to the map, which is available for all on Android or iOs platforms. Thus, the app provides an easy method for obtaining feedback from citizens on different development plans while increasing the transparency of planning practices. 


The AvaLinn AR application was outsourced and developed by Applaud Ltd as part of the EU co-funded Baltic Urban Lab project in 2015–2018. The creation of AvaLinn AR involved:
● A stakeholder workshop with various city departments, entrepreneurs, NGOs, local communities, landowners, architects, universities, professional units and field experts to gather input for the technical development of the new participatory tool, and to brainstorm the necessary functions of the app.
● Outsourcing consultancy and expertise to Jaak Laineste (OÜ Googolplex) to develop a smart app solution
● Outsourcing app visual identity to MEEM OÜ (Erik Kändler)
● Outsourcing illustrations of the new public space design (architect Ahti Sepsivart)
● App testing among a small group: how it was used, how the different functionalities worked and how to develop it further
● Launch of the app and collection of inputs from citizens about the pilot site (public space development plan)
● Idea gathering, results analysis and feedback visualised via the GIS online heatmap on the project website.
● The responses were grouped and used as a basis for drawing landscape architecture sketches for the Pollinator highway.

Who was involved   

Local stakeholders and citizens, urban planners in Tallinn, architects and GIS experts. The AvaLinn application was outsourced and developed by Applaud Ltd. The main target groups throughout the project were school children and active users of the area (walkers, runners, bikers). 

Promotion and communication

There was a physical campaign on the streets using posters to invite people to submit their ideas for the planning Pollinator Highway using the AvaLinn app.
● An introductory video, the Augmented Urban projects webpage, Facebook groups and news articles were also used.
● The results from the different channels were presented on 14–15 June 2019 in the pilot area during the Nature Festival Marathon, a pop-up event which took place in collaboration with the Estonian Museum of Natural History.
● A summary of the results from the idea gathering was added to project’s local website (


● The service was outsourced and developed by Applaud Ltd.

● The application is free of charge and available from the App Store and Google Play.

● GIS (ArcMap) was used to analyse and visualise the results

● The experts at AvaLinn application’s developer, Applaud Ltd, have experience of building mobile apps (e.g. Delfi, ERR, Piletilevi,

Time commitment 

The AvaLinn mobile app for stakeholder involvement in urban planning was launched in Tallinn in January 2018. Idea gathering for the northern section of the Pollinator Highway took place from 20 February to 20 March 2019, gathering stakeholders’ ideas on the changes they would like to see on the Pollinator Highway. 


Level of participation
  • No participation (stakeholders/citizens were not included) 
  • Informing (informing citizens about what is planned) 
  • Consultation (offering options and listening to the feedback) 
  • Co-production in some of the aspects 
  • Co-production from start to finish 
Urban planning challenge(s) tackled Governance and institutional factors

  • Working collaboratively
  • Standards and regulatory processes
  • Finance

Stakeholder engagement 

  • Public acceptance
  • Shared decision-making 
  • Social inclusion

Knowledge and skills

  • Awareness and communication
  • Expertise
  • Technical integration

Lessons learned

● A co-design process with citizens means considering their needs and proposals.

● Since AvaLinn is a mobile application, this narrows down the possible number of users; different target groups require different engagement methods.

● In addition to citizens, specialists from different professions were involved (city planners, architects and GIS experts) in providing expert input and developing an even more comprehensive application.

● Mobile apps help to raise awareness of the city’s future/visions. 


The AvaLinn mobile app became a stakeholder involvement tool for the urban planning process used by the City of Tallinn. People can examine new public space developments in Tallinn, share their ideas and suggestions, and express their support for or criticism of the proposed urban space solutions.

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Stakeholder involvement   

About the Avalinn app