Jukka Kettunen on the Inception Story and Tech behind Cityfier
– by Laura Quinton, 04.01.18
In my experience, most of the vital urban development decisions are based on harsh city politics and the siloed strategic goals of individual land owners. Dynamic data analytics are not yet used in the valuation and decision-making processes for land use. (Jukka Kettunen)
If you go to Cityfier’s website, you’ll read their strapline ‘Creating Attractive Neighbourhoods’, but in our opinion the company’s value proposition is way more sophisticated than that.
We first met Jukka Kettunen, Head of Urban & Real Estate Development at Cityfier, when he entered the company to participate in Smart City Bizhack India at Slush17 (our India-themed Smart City Hackathon held in Nov 2017).
Cityfier is a tool utilizing latest game engine technology to measure distances between the qualitative components of a future neighbourhood. At Slush, Jukka challenged Cityfier for analyzing the existing master plan provided by the Naya Raipur Development Authority. He pitched that for the master planning of big cities (citing Naya Raipur as the main example) – where the biggest decisions concerning locations of new real estate are made – there are no valuation models available. Cityfier is a digital service where they combine master plans, urban research and housing market data for landowners, investors and developers. They essentially analyze and forecast the future value of a given location.
Their solution was so smart that it won the competition – because, with Cityfier, Urban Planners in India will be able to compare different neighborhoods and get a forecast of an area’s value development, based on urban research and local pricing information. The taskforce at Cityfier assembles the future plans of a given area, calibrates the calculation’s multivariate model and provides forecasts of the area’s value development.
The BizHack judges also identified this solution as having the potential for being deployed as an economic impact mapping tool; and thus could be used for policy making rather than just measuring the parameters for City planning.
Jukka will be joining us in India for Smart City BizHack Chhattisgarh in March 2018, where we’ll be exploring B2G, B2B and B2C opportunities for Cityfier.
Here’s our post-Slush interview.
You are an Architect by trade, what gap in the market did you discover that inspired you to you create Cityfier? Tell us about the project’s inception and motivations…
I have 20 years of experience under my belt, working as an architect and consultant for real estate development and urban planning. For 5 years, I assumed the role of President for Architectural services for an internationally listed company, working with international clients across the Nordics, Baltics, and Russia.
During those years, I noticed that there are many tools available to assist Real Estate investment planning but, in the Urban Planning sector, tools to compare alternatives for investment locations didn’t yet exist!
In my experience, most of the vital urban development decisions are based on harsh city politics and the siloed strategic goals of individual land owners. Dynamic data analytics are not yet used in the valuation and decision-making processes for land use. So, in response to this, two years ago we started to innovate and combine this data with the latest GIS- and game-engine technologies. And we quickly realised that we were developing an extremely interesting and much-needed product.
Why is India an important market for Cityfier?
For many reasons: India is one of the fastest growing economies and the biggest Smart City emerging market in the world, and we believe that our solution is scalable in India. We believe that India wants to attract talents from all around the world to work and live in India.
Through participation in GOInternational Finland’s event (Smart City Bizhack India at Slush), we learned that Cityfier can help to identify and address infrastructural, institutional and social challenges predominant in urban India by supporting planning and development of Smart Cities in a visual, evidence-based way. In essence, Cityfier’s product can be used as an Economic Impact Mapping Tool. We want to explore this concept further.
Cityfier has supported some major city planning projects in Finland…what have you learned from those projects and how could those experiences benefit the Indian Smart City building process?
We have noticed that our multivariate analysis model is flexible and scalable for many user cases and our urban research data can be used as a base outside of Finland.
All of our projects have been different. Nordic research data is reliable and the statistics present well.
Further to this, Nordic values and what citizens appreciate and expect from their living environment are clear. At the moment, we are working for Innovate UK on a project to study the correlation between green areas and housing prices in Oxford, UK. I believe that the value of fresh air, green areas, measured CO2-levels will become one of the most influential criteria sets, when developing new cities and neighborhoods in the near future.
What kind of obstacles do you foresee when contemplating market entry to India?
As a start-up, we are still in the early stages of business development. Firstly, we need help in understanding the local market, clientele and the purchasing models in India.
Cityfier’s service is currently under development, so that it can also be offered as a licenced product; with this in mind, we want to ensure that the existing service is 100% fit for the Indian market through initial pilots, validation of our product, funding, investments, and by identifying exactly where our growth will be, in terms of sales and revenue.
What kind of support do you feel companies like Cityfier need for going international and specifically for gaining traction in the Indian Market?
We need local support; for development, marketing, distribution. We are open to all business collaboration opportunities with local experts.
What are your long-term goals for Cityfier?
… For Cityfier to become the number-one, go-to, digital service for urban planning and land use valuation, in the world!
We need smart people working for us, to help us grow. We want to develop Cityfier for the B2B sector. But we also want to develop a roadmap, whereby Cityfier will be used as a template tool for designers, when planning a new city or neighborhood.
In the long run, we’d want to introduce a smartphone application for the B2C market… where every individual will have the possibility to rate their future environment.
In your view, what is a ‘Smart City’?
In my opinion, a Smart City is not just a city of smart technological applications. Of course, technology is important, but above all else, a Smart City should function as a fully-integrated & versatile platform for smart, green, open city development, where co-creation processes between citizens and entrepreneurs can flourish seamlessly.
Ultimately, I don’t think it’s possible to build up a smart city without intrinsically changing our cultural habits and ways of living too. A Smart City only functions if the inhabitants are smart! The aim of a Smart City needs to be based on the needs of the citizens and the solutions have to be citizen-centric.