The recommendations of the new Green Paths routing tool for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area are based on real-time air quality data collected by new air quality monitoring network in Helsinki designed and built by the Healthy Outdoor Premises for Everyone HOPE project.
The application helps its users avoid busier streets and still reach their destinations as quickly as possible. The app currently functions within the four municipalities of the Helsinki Metropolitan area.
The free web application is a prototype is a show-case of the how the new open environmental monitoring data and data modelling can be utilized. The app was developed in HOPE project by project partner University of Helsinki’s Digital Geography Lab.
Healthier and more pleasant routes
“Usually route planners offer the fastest or most direct routes with zero consideration to how pleasant and healthy they are,” says Professor Tuuli Toivonen of the Digital Geography Lab at University of Helsinki’s Department of Geosciences and Geography.
“By guiding cyclists and pedestrians to more pleasant environments, the route planner aims to promote health and well-being among city residents. We hope that it will also steer urban traffic towards responsibility and sustainability in terms of the climate,” says Age Poom, a University of Helsinki researcher who worked on the application.
“The Green Paths app is a great example of how the open and more accurate air quality data developed through the HOPE project can be leveraged to make Helsinki a better place to live for everyone,” describes Jussi Kulonpalo, project manager for the HOPE project at the City of Helsinki Economic Development Division.
Benefit from spatial information and open data
The Green Paths route planner relies on the assessment of time-based environmental exposure. The tool optimises route choices on the basis of environmental exposure cost and the duration of the trip. It uses these to suggest a group of routes from the shortest to longer and healthier ones.
The route planner utilises open environmental data as well as real-time air quality data, which is currently being developed by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, also a partner of the HOPE project. The street and trail network for route optimisation is retrieved from the crowdsourced OpenStreetMap database.
The source code for the route planner has been published openly on GitHub. The tool also includes a programming interface, which can be used to export environmentally optimised routing results to other applications. The availability of the source code will help other developers consider environmental cost factors in their travel applications.
The Green Paths route planner can be found on the mobile website https://green-paths.web.app/
Healthy Outdoor Premises for Everyone HOPE is a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund’s Urban Innovative Action programme and coordinated by the City of Helsinki. It develops new precise information on air quality and its innovative utilisation at the level of city districts and residents.
Digital Geography Lab is an interdisciplinary research team focusing on spatial Big Data analytics for fair and sustainable societies. We aim to understand spatial and temporal interactions between people, society and the environment, from local to global scales.
About the Green Paths tool:
Green Paths video: https://youtu.be/xHp-YTcOAos
Green Paths website: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/digital-geography-lab/green-paths
UIA HOPE -Project:
Project manager Jussi Kulonpalo, City of Helsinki Economic Development Division
Researcher Age Poom, University of Helsinki’s Department of Geosciences and Geography, Digital Geography Lab