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    Sustainable mobility in Tampere: smart land use planning and innovative thinking

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    Tampere is a pioneer of urban development. Local companies with innovations in sustainable mobility are one of the region’s strengths. This article introduces two of them: IGL-Technologies and InnoTrafik.

    By 2030,Tampere will be a comfortable and lively city of approximately 300,000 inhabitants. The city is taking care of carbon neutrality as well as smart and sustainable mobility, says the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) approved by the City Board in 2021.

    The City is aiming to decrease the number of kilometres covered with petrol or diesel, cutting mobility related carbon emissions. IGL-Technologies develops solutions that contribute to more sustainable mobility.

    – Our basic product aims to provide affordable electric car charging for everyone. For example, POAS that rents out student apartments, has been our customer since 2016, making EV charging available for students in every POAS parking place, says Teemu Marku, Sales Director at IGL-Technologies.

    When EV charging is available, it is easier to make the decision to buy an electric car. 

    The parking products of IGL-Technologies are another, and more effective way, to promote sustainability. They decrease the need for new parking lots by making the use of existing ones more efficient. Not to build a new infrastructure is a major way to avoid negative environmental impact.

    Tampere Tramway and sustainability

    The tramway is Tampere’s most significant individual project in developing the public transport system. It decreases the climate load by reducing energy consumed in traffic, and also the Tram uses electricity instead of oil. In addition, more sustainable and dense urban land use is based on the tram routes. The SUMP objective for 2030 is that one in five journeys in Tampere will be travelled on public transport.

    In summer 2021, InnoTrafik conducted an agile experiment, testing methods to improve tram safety for pedestrians. Warning signs were installed at certain designated crossovers and boosted with blinking lights every time a tram was near. There was also a loudspeaker with a spoken warning about the approaching tram and smartphone support for braille displays.

    – We tested new ways to draw attention to potential dangers, because as it often happens, people tend to focus on their smartphones instead of traffic. Safety increases the overall accessibility in transport, says Ilkka Pirttimaa, InnoTrafik CTO.

    Sustainability in a safe city

    SUMP emphasises safety: the needs of children, senior citizens and other vulnerable people are central starting points in mobility planning. An InnoTrafik innovation ’Cyclope Sign’ (in Finnish: Välkky) is a solution for pedestrian safety and also InnoTrafik’s best-known product at the time being.

    pedestrian crossing and safety devices
    Cyclope Sign has been protecting pedestrian crossings over a decade. (Photo: InnoTrafik)

    The sign illuminates when a pedestrian, bicyclist or e-scooterist is about to enter the pedestrian crossing area and draws drivers’ attention to them. That way pedestrian traffic accidents can be avoided, especially in dark or poor visibility conditions.

    – The InnoTrafik way to examine the world is based on ’what could we improve’. This is our driver to innovate, says Pirttimaa.

    The future: main-grid-level load management

    Load management is an essential part of all EV charging systems. Nowadays load management makes it possible to limit, for example, the power consumption of a single user or socket.

    – It is also possible to preheat a car in an eco-friendly way. The system allocates power according to the outside temperature. Cars are not preheated for two hours by default, if less is enough, says Marku from IGL-Technologies.

    Load management may include all the socket poles of a parking lot and the power consumption of an entire premises. Thus load management system can control peak loads, which may mean significant savings in energy bills. 

    In the future, load management will be applied at the main grid level and it will make the use of renewables easier. According to Teemu Marku, this may be implemented as soon as in two, three years. The technology exists already and IGL-Technologies is ready to apply it. It would work as follows, for example:

    – If Fingrid informs us that strong winds are starting to blow in Lapland providing plenty of wind energy, we can allow cars in our system to accelerate charging. On the other hand, if there is an exceptional peak load somewhere, we can slow down charging in our systems for a while, Marku says.

    The impact of load management is based on the volume: there are thousands of cars in the system.

    – IGL-Technologies is a forerunner by nature. As a company, we are very development-oriented – more than half of our employees are either software developers or product developers, says Marku. 

    IGL-Technologies specializes in digital transformation. Their service allows users to reserve a parking place, pay for short-term parking and control the charging station. 

    InnoTrafik develops and manufactures innovative smart traffic devices for the needs of both industrial and public sector. Their devices are used around the world.

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