Helsinki city wall

One touch away from Helsinki's events


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FI Finland


About the project Edit

In a practice dating back to ancient Rome, where the Acta Diurna ("daily events") of political and social events were posted on the city walls, Helsinki, Finland's capital, has launched in October 2008 the CityWall. The CityWall is a large multi-touch display installed in a central location, a great example of the simplicity of multi-touch displays and surface computing, and the collaborative and playful human engagement that it naturally leads to.

The installation, co-funded by the 6th Framework Research Programme of the European Union (EU), through the IPCity project, has three objectives. First it aims at creating awareness and presence of City Events in an engaging installation where passers by playfully manipulate media and learn about anniversaries, events and festivals. Second it is aimed at supporting active visitors and social media motivating users to actively and collaboratively make sense and play with media. Third CityWall proposes a platform for Media Literacy which can deliver rich media experiences to the widest audience. Anyone with the most basic computer skills can learn and use the CityWall in a few moments.


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

What is the social value of this project? Edit

Additionally to the displaying of city events, the City Wall also has an strong educational content on environmental issues. City Wall presents images, videos, descriptions and discussions on how nature in Helsinki benefits and disturbs dwellers. A single tree, for instance, can be both a useful physical shelter, an appreciated element in the urban landscape, a source for an irritating pollinates and a danger for traffic. People are welcome to go to the City Wall Flickr page and add comments there. They can add images to the discussion by attaching tags "niceness" for nice things and "clownish" for things that are nuisance in Flickr.

The exhibition aims to evoke discussion, for example on what nuisances people should just adapt themselves to, what nuisances they should fight or control, how different nuisances can be prevented and how benefits of nature can be improved. The City Wall is then all about how an interaction-based multi touch input display works as a type of community chat tool to enable discussion on topical environmental issues.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

The CityWall initiative and related technology has the potential to be applicable to other cities in the world wishing to embark in an interactive dialogue with its population and visiting tourists. But also, Helsinki’s City Wall can be viewed as a glimpse of the future of civic information design and signage. This is the type of screen that could be installed in airports, train stations and city centers. It could be a mean to transform information that’s historically been one dimensional, static and often out of date into a responsive, interactive and collaborative nervous system.

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