The city of Helsinki’s thesis award to Joona!

Joona Repo’s master’s thesis titled Long-Term Accessibility Change of Services: Public Library Network in Helsinki Region as a Case Study was awarded the City of Helsinki’s reward, which are given annually for 10 distinguished theses. If you want to know more about the thesis, the summary is available here. Congratulations Joona!

Link to the news:

Summary of the accessibility related masters’ theses in 2017

Exceptionally many masters’ theses focusing on accessibility were published in 2017, 11 altogether. In these works, accessibility in Helsinki or in the wider Helsinki region was viewed from many perspectives and using various methods. All the theses expanded our understanding of accessibility while bringing new perspectives to support our current research. Therefore a short summary of the works published last year is in place.

Summary: Accessibility related theses 17

The Cycling routes and fluency in Helsinki report is now out!

Our joint report with the Helsinki city planning department titled Cycling routes and fluency is now published! The report has been made by Ainokaisa, Maria, Elias ja Tuuli.

The report examines comprehensively where people cycle in Helsinki at different times such as during the day, the week, the month and the year and how fluent the cycling seems to when looking at the average speeds and the waiting times in junctions.

The most popular cycling routes appeared to go beside the railroads and along the road sections where there was not alternative routes such as on bridges. The cycling speeds were the fastest on the main roads while the downtown speeds stood out being generally slower than elsewhere.

The data in the report is based on the trips recorded by the users of the Strava sport application. One of the purposes in the report was to examine how suitable this data is to study cycling. It proved to be quite reliable and in many ways useful, but spatial and temporal variations as well as the user distortions are important to take into consideration when analyzing the results. Strava data, however, offers several promising future research avenues to study cycling in the Helsinki region.

The report can be found here (only in Finnish)!

Henrikki is now a doctor!

Henrikki Tenkanen defended his doctoral dissertation on 17.11.2017 with the highest possible grade!

Henrikki’s work “Capturing time in space: Dynamic analysis of accessibility and mobility to support spatial planning with open data and tools” focuses on examining how temporality affects to accessibility. Accessibility patterns are studied in the dissertation in different type of areas from urban Helsinki and Tallinn to rural Peruvian Amazonia and South African national parks.

The central aim of the work was to treat the different components of accessibility, people, services and transport network together and dynamically taking into account for example daily variations. With current approaches, temporal variations can be modelled for each component at a time or for all of them together, which shows their effect on accessibility at different times.

Another core theme of the dissertation was to highlight how important it is to consider those travel modes, which are relevant for each study area. For example in Helsinki, besides the car transportation it is also necessary to study accessibility by public transport, cycling and walking because the differences between the travel modes can be considerable.

Exploiting the potential of novel data sources was also an important part of the dissertation. The work combines openly available transportation network data to the sources revealing locations of people such as mobile phone and social media datasets.

As the new approaches to analyze accessibility are important to put into practice in urban planning, our research group has aimed to share the tools and the data, which are developed in research. Hence, the datasets and the tools, which have been created as a result of Henrikki’s work are mostly openly available (see more information from the dissertation).

The dissertation is available online here.


Doctoral Defense of Henrikki Tenkanen 17.11.2017

MSc Henrikki Tenkanen will defend his thesis “Capturing time in space – Dynamic analysis of accessibility and mobility to support spatial planning with open data and tools” in the Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, on Friday 17th, November 2017 at noon.

The work consists of five scientific articles and a synthesis related to spatial and temporal patterns of accessibility and mobility.

Professor Rober Weibel from University of Zurich will serve as the opponent in the event.The defense is a public event, and dissertation is available online here.

Henrikki Tenkanen: Capturing time in space

Time: Fri 17.11.2017 12:00-14:00

Place: Kumpula Campus, Physicum-building, Auditorio D101, Gustaf Hällströmin katu 2 A

Master’s thesis focusing on cycling speed and travel times finished!

AINOKAISA TARNANEN’S MASTER’S THESIS “GIS-based modelling of cyclists’ speed and travel times in Helsinki region” was examined in September. In her thesis Ainokaisa developed a travel time model for calculating cyclists’ travel times in Helsinki region and examined the effect of different factors to cycling and the spatial differences in cycling speeds. Another objective was to assess how realistic it is to model cyclists’ travel times with constant speed on a regional scale. GPS data of cycling was collected from volunteers who had been tracking their cycling in Helsinki region with mobile sports applications. Road network for cycling and walking by Helsinki Region Transport was used as the modelling network.

The results show that slope, traffic lights and other junctions affect cycling speeds on an individual level but not on the regional scale. In general, the effect of signalized junctions is the greatest, whereas steep uphill slopes have the greatest effect on route-based mean speeds. The cycling speeds vary by cycling frequency: the more frequent cyclists have greater mean speeds. Spatial examination shows that mean cycling speeds in parts of central Helsinki are 0.8 times slower than in rest of the area.

A travel time model based on the constant speeds corresponding to the different median speeds of frequent and less frequent cyclists was implemented on the network. According to the results constant speed can be seen as an adequate assumption to model comparable cyclists’ travel times in Helsinki region. However, personal and spatial differences in cycling speeds should be taken into account. Travel times calculated with this model can be combined to the Helsinki region travel time matrix providing information on cycling alongside car, public transport and walking travel times and distances.

Thesis is available here:

You can find more information on Digital Geography Lab’s ongoing biking projects here:

Registration open for Henrikki’s PhD course

Novel data sources for accessibility modelling – Henrikki Tenkanen’s PhD course

November 2017 – Geography Master’s Programme

Course description

This course builds around Henrikki Tenkanen’s PhD-thesis titled “Dynamic Analysis of Accessibility and Mobility – Novel Approaches to Support Planning with Open Data and Tools“.

It will offer a possibility to be a part of the PhD defense process and to learn a lot about state of the art accessibility modelling and mobility analyses. The course consists of several meetings, course readings and discussions. In the kick-off meeting the course practicalities will be introduced. Minisymposium on accessibility brings together researchers and planners to discuss accessibility modelling using novel data sources. Shadow Defense works as a final rehearsal for Henrikki following the structure of the actual defense but with students being the opponents. The culmination of the course will be the actual defense with prof. Robert Weibel from the University of Zurich working as the opponent. Thoughts and ideas will be wrapped up in the last meeting of the course on the following week of the defense.


  • 3.11. klo 10-12 (Physicum D112), Introduction to the course 
  • 9.11. klo 12:30-16 (Physicum D101) Mini-symposium on Accessibility analyses using novel data sources
    • See the event page and register here
  • 14.11. 12-16 (Physicum A115), Shadow defense with students making questions to Henrikki
  • 17.11. 12-16 (Physicum D101), The PhD defense 
  • 21.11. at 10-12 (Chemicum A128), Wrap up & discussion


This 2 credit point pop-up -course can be included to the course GEOG-328 Topical issues in geoinformatics (5 cr), or it can be one task in the GEOG-406GIS in Society course. Individual pieces (shadow defense, symposium, defense) can also be included in the GEOG_G338 Advanced Seminar of Geoinformatics. Please note, however, that participation can be counted only in one course!


The registration to the course is done by enrolling to this Moodle area:

The registration key is “Henkasta_tohtori!

Course completion

Participation to every course meeting is obligatory. Students will also need to read the provided course materials (Henrikki’s thesis, including a summary part and 5 scientific articles + 4-5 other scientific articles by the opponent and the presentators of the minisymposium).

Before the shadow defense students form journal groups. Each group chooses 2 articles from the thesis of which they discuss together and form questions that are presented to Henrikki in the shadow defense. The group reports their questions and findings how these questions were answered.


The course is evaluated on a scale pass-fail

Course Teachers

Henrikki Tenkanen, Tuuli Toivonen, Elias Willberg, and all participants!

Contacts &


Ludovic Chastenet defended successfully his master’s thesis!

Ludovic, a Master student from the Civil Engineering French National School (ENTPE) and University of Lyon joined our Digital Geography Lab for five months as an intern to carry out his final year project in Helsinki.

Ludovic defended successfully his thesis titled “Cycling as a part of sustainable urban transport in Helsinki: Assessing the influence of weather on cycling activity” back in Lyon, France on 14th September 2017. He’s research aimed at assessing how weather influences bicycle use, and thus empirically examined Helsinki as a case sample for a one year study period using both automatic bicycle counter system and bike sharing system (BSS) data sets, in addition to a detailed weather observation data from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Ludovic showed i) how the influence of weather conditions depends on different time periods, ii) how different weather attributes influence cycling, and iii) to compare strengths and weaknesses of both cycling data sources in studying weather impact on cycling.

Results shows that weather conditions influence bicycle use more on weekends than during working days whereas weather influences cycling the least during peak hours (work-related cycling). The strongest influencing weather attribute is air temperature, yet also other attributes (e.g. wind, precipitation, humidity, snow) affect bicycle use. Statistical analyses showed similar weather influences on cycling for both data source regardless of differences between automatic counter and BSS data sources in case of counting locations (counting places vs BSS stations), bicycle users (own bikes vs part of public transport) and study period (all year vs summer period).

In conclusion, Ludovic’s work clearly indicates that weather conditions matter in using bicycles and is an excellent starting point for considering the influence of weather more in planning and developing urban cycling in Finland. Moreover, it revealed several promising research avenues and ways to develop methodology for obtaining more accurate assessments of weather influence on cycling.

Ludovic’s thesis is available here.

Minisymposium on Accessibility modelling 9th November

Welcome to a minisymposium on urban accessibility modelling on 9th November in Kumpula CampusThe symposium aims to bring together researchers and planners working with urban accessibility and mobility from Finland and abroad. 

The symposium is part of the Science workshops on novel and open data sources and approaches to study urban accessibility and mobility project funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation. It also links to the PhD defense of Henrikki Tenkanen, who defends his thesis  “Capturing time in space – Dynamic analyses of accessibility and mobility to support spatial planning with open data and tools” on 17th November.

See the program and register here!

Kalle Numminen’s and Joona Repo’s master’s theses are done!

Our project members Kalle Numminen ja Joona Repo have both finished their theses, which have now been examined.

KALLE’S EXCELLENT WORK, which title was “The effect of transport pricing on retail accessibility – examining public transport fare reform” examined accessibility of the major shopping centers in the Helsinki region from the cost perspective. He compared the cost-accessibility between car and public transport and analyzed the effect of the coming public transport fare reform.

According to the results, there are clear differences by travel mode in cost-accessibility in the Helsinki region. The shopping centers in the city center have poor accessibility by car encouraging to out-of-town shopping. The fare reform will change cost-accessibility particularly near municipality borders but taken all together the reform will not have a dramatic effect on the balance of modal accessibility in the region.

Link to the work:

JOONA’S LIKEWISE EXCELLENT WORK titled “Long-Term Accessibility Change of Services: Public Library Network in Helsinki Region as a Case Study” studied long term accessibility by travel mode in the Helsinki region taking into account changes in the urban structure. The study focused on accessibility of library services and modelled how it will change by 2050.

The results show that the accessibility of the library services is relatively good in the region and the effect of the changes in the urban structure that were modelled in the study will have a rather small effect. The forecasted change in population would increase the number of people accessing the nearest library in half an hour, but the proportion of this group to the total population in the area would be smaller than before. Even though excluding some of the smallest libraries from the service network would have relatively small effects on accessibility in the aggregate, could the effects be on the individual level and for sustainable accessibility significant. Based on the study results more significant than the changes in the transport system or the attraction of the facilities seem to be how the population and the services are linked.

Link to the work:

Congratulations for both once again!