Back to Case studies

Helsinki City: Customer-centricity for residential and corporate parking

Helsinki aims to be the most functional city in the world, and parking services are one of the key focus areas in Helsinki's digital strategy.

The challenge

The number of cars and amount of traffic in Helsinki has more than doubled in two decades. Approximately 32,000 of the city’s residents and employees have purchased parking permits that allow them to park in residential and business parking spaces. The permits required regular renewal.

Previously, the application process was burdensome: the permit applicants had to visit the Urban Environment Division's customer service office in person, with up-to-date documents to prove their residency, vehicle ownership and, in some cases, employment. This has led to unnecessary hassle, travel, and loss of working or leisure time. Since Helsinki's vision is to be the world’s most functional city, it was time to make the application process digital and customer-centric.


  • Forming a service vision with a comprehensive and shared perspective for politicians, motorists and civil servants significantly improved the costumer experience.
  • The right starting point for both service developers and programmers: with the help of the manual and the user-interface illustrations, the implementation can be started efficiently and in a customer-centric way, using agile development methods.
  • 32,000 customers will be directed to a digital service: reduced number of contacts and visits to customer service officers and better management of parking spaces.
  • Shared value and strategic insight: the user groups were shared between different digital projects in the City of Helsinki.
Futurice was chosen as a partner for concepting the residential and corporate parking permit application process, as this required understanding of both service design and agile development of digital services. Futurice's team has diverse expertise in both strategic planning and UX design. From my point of view, the best things about the collaboration were, in terms of city design, customer understanding and the concept handbook.
Anni Leppänen
Leading Service Designer, City of Helsinki

What we did

By identifying the needs and behaviour models of different customer groups as well as the desired customer experience, we were able to co-create a customer-centric digital parking permit service, despite the strict criteria for obtaining the parking permits.

We started out by deepening our customer understanding by analyzing conversations on social media. We identified the thought patterns at both the positive and negative extremes and noted neutral opinions, and conducted qualitative user interviews with the representatives of these thought patterns. We also quickly introduced the prototype of the digital service and developed it further with the interviewees. This resulted in a diverse view of customer satisfaction and insight for improving it.

The final output of the project was an easily understandable handbook for the digital service for purchasing and maintaining residential and corporate parking permits. We also created the concept and features for a digital service for managing the permits for city employees. The handbook crystallizes the different customer needs and defines the service promise, ground rules, service delivery process, communication guidelines, service metrics and use cases and features.

The customer understanding part of the project raised many important insights about users and the service at large. The concept manual, on the other hand, crystallized the cornerstones of the new product, and we intend to use and further develop our way of describing concepts on this basis, thus incorporating it into our new customer-oriented and agile procedure.
Anni Leppänen
Leading Service Designer, City of Helsinki

Why it matters

In Finnish municipalities, decision-making is partly political, partly determined by customer needs and partly in the hands of civil servants. In the course of the project, these different, and even contradictory, perspectives were made visible and critically analysed. We helped form a concept of a service that balances the different perspectives and utilizes the API interfaces of official registers.

The 32,000 customers will be directed to a digital parking permit service, reducing the number of contacts and visits to customer service officers and significantly improving the customer experience. The service will allow residents and employees working in Helsinki to easily apply for and manage their permits online - another step towards making Helsinki the world's most functional city.

With the help of the concept handbook and user interface illustrations, the service development can be started efficiently - with a focus on customers - using agile development methods. The concept and its customer-centric creation process were also introduced to several Product Owners and developers working on other projects in the City of Helsinki, adding more shared value and strategic insight.

About City of Helsinki

The capital of Finland is home to nearly 650,000 people and is Finland’s largest municipality and employer.

Want to know more about this?

Get in touch

Looking for help with an idea, brand new brief or in-flight project? Drop us a line for a straightforward conversation.