Data and Digital platforms

Metrics for Urban Space Experimentation

The experimentation evaluation toolkit helps to collect data with 20 different metrics from experiments in urban environments.

Which metrics work in urban space experimentation? How can change in people’s behaviour be verified in different contexts? The Experimentation Evaluation Toolkit offers 20 metrics that observe urban space from different perspectives. The toolkit is meant to be used in a living lab context to collect data from urban space experiments. It instructs what data can be collected with each metric and how to gather data online or on-site. The goal was to build a set of tools we can use in the future to evaluate experimentation in urban environments. Anyone working with urban space experimentation can use the metrics. 

The toolkit was carried out as part of the Nordic Healthy Cities project and produced by Miltton and SpinUnit together with Fiksu kaupunki – Helsinki Innovation Districts team.

Metrics and Data: Placemaking Experiment in Ylä-Malmi Square

In summer of 2022, the Ylä-Malmi square placemaking experiment brought Parkly’s green urban furniture modules to the square. The modules placed in the area represented the future renovations planned, and in addition to creating an urban oasis in the square, they served as meeting points for a dialogue with the citizens.

The project was also a setting to test the toolkit. Fifteen different metrics were selected for the experiment to observe and analyse the area from different perspectives. Essential criteria for the chosen metrics were how they correspond to the city strategy and how easily they could be used during the summer.

The square’s activity during the experiment was monitored through Footfall, Permanence and Dwell Time metrics. Chaos Architects’ platform provided data on the use of urban space before, during and after the experiment. In addition, Hypercell sensors were used to follow the footfall in the area. The data showed that events especially attracted people to the square. Ylä-Malmin toripäivä was the most active day of the summer. 

Interesting findings were obtained from the popularity of indoor and outdoor spaces (Outdoor vs Indoor). According to the metric, 80 per cent of Instagram photos published in the area were taken at a nearby shopping centre. People spend a lot of time in the shopping centre and find it an attractive place to spend time. The observation done using social media would have been more valid had the experiment been more prevalent online. The future pilots provide more possibilities for following social media metrics. 

Next, the metrics are used in the smart lightning pilot in Ala-Malmi Park and the toolkit provides the framework to gain comparable data from the pilots in the Helsinki Innovation Districts.

Photo: Lauri Rotko / City of Helsinki Material Bank