In spring of 2016, our Helsinki Ecocluster collaborated with the Arkadia International Bookshop to participate in the Clean Vallisaari competition, which sought solutions for water, power and user-interface for the ecoresort planned for the islands of Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari. Our concept was titled 'the Haven Islands' and won honorable mention in the competition, for its balance of nature and technology and its organizational plan. Here we present these aspects of our proposal, updated for clarity.
The technological heart of our proposal was the concept of smart infrastructure, generalizing smart grid concepts to the management other resources such as water, heat, food and ecosystems. The system would use meters and submeters to collect data on the production and consumption of resources in particular buildings, rooms and even devices. A sensor network to measure a variety of ecological data on the islands, including data on the movement of people. This data would be integrated to a database - carefully anonymized and screened for privacy and security - and used for analytics and automation of the infrastructure, improving efficiency and reducing environmental impact. The data could be displayed on an interactive map of the islands, as part of an app would also allow the user to interface with facilities, organizations and events operating on the Haven Islands, for example to make reservations and bookings.
Our organizational strategy centers around the creation of a non-profit association by Metsähallitus, the city of Helsinki, and any other stakeholders. This association would be responsible for all tasks relating to the management of the islands, and be held accountable by a board of stakeholders. Such a non-profit would be free to raise funds by asking for donations, charging various fees and applying for various grants. But the association would also be the top a hierarchical organizational structure, giving mandate to large organizations to manage aspects or areas of the island and facilitate space for smaller actors to come in. For example, a certain corporation may be tasked with operating a restaurant and event center in part of the island, subletting kitchens to restaurateurs and renting the venue for event organizers. In this way the island can be open to for-profit and not-for-profit activities of any scale, from grassroots workshops to global conferences.
This structure would be ideal for promoting an open innovation ecosystem: a space for research and development to engage the community and interact with it. This new paradigm in innovation is gaining a lot of traction on the world stage, allowing ideas to be validated by the market before extensive funding goes into them. We propose a so-called bimodal strategy: critical infrastructure would be secured by using tried and true technologies managed by the association of the islands, while plenty of space would be left for small experiments in new technologies. Similarly larger more experienced organizations would manage bigger aspects and areas of the island while being obligated to give smaller actors such as SMEs, startups and informal groups space to try out projects. An open innovation ecosystem will ensure that there is always something new and exciting happening on the islands, enticing people to return many times a year.