Solving Everyday Problems with Technology

Kävely, HSL, Tikkurila, Vantaa
Teksti: Ken Dooley
Kuva:  HSL  / Lauri Eriksson

We spend a lot of time in the Granlund Innovation and Development testing and learning about new technologies such as augmented reality, digital twins, data integration platforms, IoT sensors etc and the purpose of this is to prepare our business for the future.

The digital transformation of the built environment is an important topic but it is also a long term development project. Thus, it is important from time to time to take our minds away from the future and to take inspiration from the successful solutions that exist today. We are committed to solving the everyday problems of building users and not just digitising the built environment for the sake of it.

In the following paragraphs, I will describe some of the digital solutions that I think have solved an everyday real-world problem. It’s important to note that these solutions:

  • are not just using technology because it exists, instead and that they are solving a clear and tangible problem
  • they haven’t just improved an old solution by 10%
  • they all save the user time and are easier to use than the old solution. Some of them even save you money and help you to be healthier
  • they are enabled by software and thus they are extremely scalable
  • the solutions also include bi-product benefits which make the solution even more beneficial for people and this adds stickiness1

Parking Apps
One of the best and simplest examples are mobile parking apps such as EasyPark. Parking apps essentially replace the process of buying a paper parking ticket. For example, you can buy 2 hours parking credit for the relevant zone on the app and press start. This replaces the need to find nearest ticket machine, walk to it, fill it with coins and walk back to your car to leave the ticket on display.

I am a big fan of this solution for one reason and that is that I no longer need to have a box full of coins in my car. The fact that it is a software / digital solution and not a physical ticket also adds some bi-product benefits. The app does not require me to walk to and from the ticket machine and the time can be cut short if I arrive back to my car or extended if I am running late.

HSL Travel Card App
HSL (the Helsinki regional transport authority) have begun to phase out their physical travel cards and to replace them with an app. The digital tickets can be bought from your phone and don’t require you to queue at a machine or at a shop to add credit to your travel card. The ticket can even be bought as you queue to get on the bus!

I switched to the app to avail of the primary function which is to buy tickets on the go but one of the bi-product benefits that I have enjoyed is the ability to get a description of your purchase history via the app. I often use public transport during working hours and I have found that the purchase history is extremely helpful when claiming back transport expenses from my employer.

Online Grocery Delivery
Online grocery deliver services such as that provided by Kesko’s Citymarket fit perfectly in this discussion. They save time, they are increasingly easier to use and again the trend is for people to switch to this service to avail of the primary function which is to have their groceries delivered. However, the bi-product benefits that are creating stickiness to the service are related to the digital user interface.

The shopping portal allows shopping lists to be rapidly made based on previous shopping lists, recommended meals or meals that you have previously saved. Furthermore, another bi-product functionality which is gaining appreciation is the ability to read the product details via the portal.

Healthy eating is becoming more and more important to consumers and people are more likely to read the label to check for sugar content when sitting on the sofa and ordering online than when standing in the middle of the shopping isle. For example, you can check the sugar content of a kids yogurt or jar of red pesto and compare it to similar items. That way if your preferred brand is less healthy than others then you can order a healthier version.

1A quick definition of stickiness is that your customers continue to use your products or services and “stick” with your solution.

Writer: Ken Dooley, Technology Director at Granlund


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