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Automated space reservation as a goal

In the evenings and on weekends, the school facilities are transformed into hobby places for all residents.  

In order for the city's properties to be in the best possible occupancy from morning to evening, the city is happy to rent them out for the recreational use of its residents. In addition to sports clubs, the sports halls and classrooms can also be used by individuals and businesses. 

The rentability of the facilities is constantly being developed so that the facilities could serve as many user groups as possible. The latest example can be found in Riistavesi: 

- The needs of the residents have been taken into account in the planning of the new joint school and library in Riistavesi from the very beginning. Since the needs assessment phase, we have gathered wishes and ideas from the locals, on the basis of which the building's facilities are planned, describes Tanja Karpasto, the facilities coordination manager. 

Several workshops have been organized for the residents and actors of Riistavesi, the most recent of which was carried out in cooperation with the service designers of the Savonia University of Applied Sciences for the Human-Centred Digital Municipality (IDK) project. In the workshop, everyone was able to talk about their wishes and needs related to the versatile use of the facilities and come up with ideas for them. 

- Based on the workshops, the designers convert a variety of ideas into square metres, euros and schedules, says Karpasto. Construction will begin early next year and it will be completed in the autumn of 2023. 

The new school and library in Riistavesi contain almost all the services offered by the city, so they serve as an excellent miniature world and a test platform for how the residents can also use the existing facilities better.  

According to the plan, the entire ground floor of the building will be a public zone. The craft spaces in the building are larger than usual, so that they can also be used by the community college. Music and sports facilities as well as a large gym are also available for everyone to be booked.  

Our goal is to enable the versatile use of the facilities in every way so that the activities of the residents do not stop because of the doors being locked, Karpasto concludes. 

Woman using her mobile phone

Who could open the door 

The challenge in old properties is expressly the doors: how to get inside, who has the key and where to get it?  

- It would be a dream situation if every door needed had an electronic code, for example. The personal code would start working a quarter of an hour before the start of the turn, says sports services manager Jussi Savolainen from the City of Kuopio. 

Staffed sports facilities, such as the Kuopio hall and swimming pools, work well. Instead, old school buildings in particular are a challenge. Savolainen points out that each building can have more than 10 doors and the reserved sports hall can only be found through one of the doors. 

- In labyrinthine buildings, signage must be in order. In connection with the booking, you could receive, for example, a confirmation message with the necessary information. There is no point in complicating the customers’ hobbies by making them drive, for example, from the border of Leppävirta into the city centre to collect and return an old mechanical key, when the matter could also be handled digitally, says Savolainen. 

Currently, sports venues, classrooms and school sports halls can be found in the Timmi reservation system. In addition, facilities can be booked by calling or emailing the city’s facility management services or by filling out the e-form for the space reservation services. 

Tuija Miettinen, space reservation planner, says that in addition to this, the facilities of the library and the Music Centre, for example, have their own separate routes for reservations. 

- Customers are sometimes confused when the facilities must be booked from many different places, and they cannot independently see the overall picture anywhere now. The customers may ask us, for example, for a single floorball turn, after which we will find out where and when the customers want to play and how big the team is, Miettinen describes. 

Girl using her computer

Digital reservation system as a solution 

The solution could be found in a new digital reservation platform or online store that would bring together all the facilities, additional services, and the possibility to pay and cancel a turn. In addition to the sports venues, the system could bring together the meeting and work spaces of the Music Centre, the theatre and the library.  

- Timmi works well for sports venues, and users can even search for occasional free turns directly on it. My dream would be a system in which, for example, one's own local school can be followed online and a vacated turn in its schedule could then be booked for one’s own use, Miettinen envisages. 

Savolainen thinks along the same lines. Especially for the more recent Kuopio residents, it would be convenient to have a platform on which you can browse various recreational opportunities and facilities. From a visual and simple control view, it would be easy to choose whether you want to move indoors or outdoors, and filter out the sport you like.  

The platform would show suitable facilities where the sport can be practiced, as well as a map view to make it easier to assess the distance to the sports hall and how to get there. 

- A new type of digital reservation system can complement the current methods available. However, a few challenges remain to be addressed, the biggest of which are the doors and access control. Each electric door costs euros, so alterations should be made gradually. And what about those schools where the sports hall is deep inside the maze of the building? Savolainen ponders. 

Space reservation is of interest to many parties 

Development work and studies have been carried out in the joint OmaKunta project of the Municipality of Siilinjärvi and the City of Kuopio, as well as in the Human-Centred Digital Municipality (IDK) project. The aim of the OmaKunta project is to implement a technical service portal through which all the municipality's services can be found. The IDK project, on the other hand, focuses on service design and process integration. 

- In the workshops of the IDK project, for example, the question arose as to what to do if a badminton partner falls ill or you cannot get off work yourself? In other words, we should create proper cancellation conditions and verify how refunds are made so that the process becomes smooth, Savolainen says. 

The Kuopio Living Lab project is also currently piloting a customer company's digital reservation system. Workplace multiplicity is a growing trend, so a living lab piloting provides information about the real-life situation. Employees of the City of Kuopio act as a test group for the reservation system. 

- During the pilot, city employees will be able to reserve a working space for themselves through the system. There are three different work units to reserve, each with its own work culture and way of functioning. During the testing period, we can also see the practical functionality of the system in various situations, i.e. during the holiday periods and peak times, says Jouko Miettinen, project manager of the Living Lab project. 

In the Living Lab co-development concept, the company's innovations are tested under real conditions. Miettinen says that in the real environment, there are various problems and situations that need to be taken into account in product development. At the same time, new information is obtained about the different working cultures of the various operational units. The Kuopio Living Lab project (2019–2021) is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Association of Northern Savonia, the City of Kuopio and Kuopio University Hospital. 

Pilots provide valuable practical information. Achieving the dream situation where all the facilities suitable for automatic bookings in the City of Kuopio can be found in one place still requires development work. For example, the space reservation system of the new joint school in Riistavesi will reveal the pros and cons of the system in question as well as the possibilities for scaling the system elsewhere in the city. 

The Ministry of Finance (Scheme for Promoting the Digitalisation of Municipalities) , the City of Kuopio and the Municipality of Siilinjärvi are the funders of the OmaKunta online services and e-services conception (9 December 2020–31 October 2022).  

The Human-Centric Digital Municipality (IDK) project (1 January 2020–31 December 2022) is funded by the European Social Fund, ELY of Southern Savonia, the City of Kuopio and Savonia University of Applied Sciences. 

Text: Oodia/Heta Jyrälä