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Data-driven insights reduce bus emissions in Helsinki

Christian Sundell

Head of Strategy & Business Development, Health

Helsinki’s public-transport authority worked with Tietoevry to study bus-route data and find ways to reduce carbon emissions. We believe the project can be replicated in other cities too.

Tietoevry’s customer base in Finland includes public- transport authorities, with some 90% of the country’s public-transport data going through our systems. The Helsinki region alone comprises some 15,000 IP addresses and is one of the biggest IoT implementations in Europe. We offer everything needed from the IT side to run such a service, including ticketing, fleet management, data management in vehicles, background services, and other platforms.

One of our customers is the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL), which runs all public transport in Finland’s capital region. With the majority of Finland’s citizens living in the capital, it generates some 70% of the country’s total public-transport data. This makes Helsinki the ideal testbed for public-transport impact assessment and optimization projects, such as the emission-reduction initiative for buses that we carried out for HSL through 2021.

Smooth driving, better scheduling

Christian Sundell, Head of Intelligent Transport and Logistics Systems at Tietoevry, explains the background to the project:

“HSL already uses Tietoevry’s solutions to optimize bus routes based on how people jump on and off the vehicles,” says Sundell. “Our systems know where the buses are moving or should be moving, how fast they go between bus stops, whether they are on schedule, and so forth.”

“Now imagine if a bus driver is running late, for instance, so they push harder on the gas pedal to get to the next stop. Compared to smooth driving, the deviation from the ideal emission footprint on that bus stop goes into the red. This is the kind of thing we’ve been studying in the impact assessment for HSL,” says Sundell.

The idea is for the findings to be used in how HSL plans its bus routes. Even if an individual driver can affect sustainability by how they handle the accelerator, the biggest emission-reduction gains are made in the planning phase. With the more complete data picture provided by Tietoevry, route planners can study the benefits of shortening routes or making seasonal changes to them. The data will make it possible to properly study the trade-offs between service continuity and sustainability targets. Sundell believes this approach can be applied in other cities too.

“We are using a very granular and accurate calculation model in Helsinki that can be extended elsewhere, as the environment and routing details are similar in other Finnish cities,” he says. “By using Helsinki as the example case, we will calculate national averages for public-transport emissions based on vehicle type, route, weather and several other metrics. These can then be used as guides in other locations.”

Green means more than go

In another boost for public-transport sustainability, Tietoevry also works with partners on traffic-light prioritization services. Traffic lights and bus services in Finland are already synced so that a bus arriving at an intersection is met with a green light. This not only allows a smoother journey for passengers, it also makes better use of driver time and reduces the fuel consumed when starting from a stop. Now Tietoevry is studying the traffic- light prioritization data with the aim of making minor adjustments to bus schedules that would help with further reducing emissions.

“Eventually all this work and data will be available for the different applications through which HSL customers buy their tickets,” says Sundell. “Our solution will calculate accurate data on the emissions impact of each bus journey to show passengers the carbon footprint of their transport decisions.”

“We have a lot of data that can help public-transport authorities to deliver a better and more sustainable service,” he says. “Digitizing cities in this way is not only good for sustainability, it also helps public-transport authorities to strengthen relationships with their customers.”

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Read more about our sustainability work and how we help to create purposeful technology that reinvents the world for good. 

This case is published in our annual report 2021 – read the whole report here.

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