Väiski defended his PhD thesis – Grant McKenzie as opponent

Tuomas Väisänen aka “Väiski” successfully defended his PhD thesis last Friday!

The defence took place on the Friday 10th of November 2023 with Grant McKenzie, Associate Professor of Spatial Data Science from McGill University, Canada as the opponent.

See Väiski’s thesis “Diversity of places and people: Using big data to understand languages and activities across geographical space” here.

Earlier in the week, we had the privilege of hosting the opponent McKenzie at our premises and getting to know each other and our respective research groups’ works better, which sparked many new ideas.

The event-packed week culminated with Väiski’s defence and his lovely Karonkka party that followed in the evening.

Finally, after a long and exciting week, our happy new doctor was sent to home with celebrations to enjoy his wonderful achievement.

Hooray & hugs to Väiski! 🥳🤗

And many thanks also to the opponent McKenzie for visiting us and acting as the excellent counterpart for Väiski! 🤗

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Miksi Vallilanlaakso jätettiin vaille omaa ratikkapysäkkiä?

Note for our international audience: This post deals with public transportation connections around our campus in Kumpula / Helsinki. As the matter is local, we publish this post in Finnish only.

Otimme hiljattain kantaa uuden Kalasatama-Pasila ratikan pysäkkisijoitteluun Vallilanlaaksossa.


  • Helsinkiin on valmistumassa uusi poikittainen raitiotielinja Kalasatamasta-Pasilaan, jota parhaillaan rakennettaan. Linja ohittaa myös Kumpulan kampuksen.
  • Kumpulan kampuksen saavutettavuudesta on keskustelu siitä lähtien, kun kampus valmistui vuosituhannen alusta. Myös me tutkimme jo 13 vuotta sitten Kumpulan kampuksen saavutettavuutta. Tuloksia julkaistiin esimerkiksi raportissa Solmukohta vai pussinperä? – Kumpulan kampus pääkaupunkiseudun joukkoliikenneverkossa
  • Nykyisellä suunnitelmalla, uuden raitiotielinjan varrella on 14 pysäkkiä noin 250 metrin välein.
  • Vallillanlaaksossa kampuksemme kohdalla pysäkkien välinen etäisyys on kuitenkin yli 1 km. Se on pisin etäisyys Helsingissä raitiotielle ilman pysäkkiä (tilanne ennen uuden pikaratikan käynnistymistä lokakuussa 2023).
  • Keskeinen argumentti julkisessa keskustelussa on ollut, että lisäpysäkki hidastaa ratikkaa “liikaa” ja että “puistossa ei ole ketään”.
  • Argumentoimme, että
    • Pysäkittömyys jättää merkittävän määrän potentiaalisia raitiotien käyttäjiä huomiotta niin Kumpulan kampuksella, kuin Vallilanlaaksoa ympäröivillä kasvavilla asuinalueilla. Myös viheralueen käyttäjät ja esimerkiksi Valillanlaakson jalkapallokenttien käyttäjät tarvitsisivat mielestämme pysäkkiä.
    • Kalliin raitiotielinjan suunnittelu ensisijaisesti kulkuneuvon nopeuden näkökulmasta on yksipuolista suunnittelua. Joukkoliikenteen tavoitteena on palvella kulkijoita myös reitin varrella, mahdollistaen lyhyet ja laadukkaat pysäkkimatkat.
  • Olemme koonneet alle:
    • Alkuperäisen kannanottomme Helsingin Sanomissa 21.8.2023
    • Helsingin liikenne- ja katusuunnittelupäällikkö Reetta Putkosen vastineen 23.8.2023
    • Oman aikaisemmin julkaisemattoman vastineemme Reetta Putkosen kirjoitukseen

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Travel Time Matrix 2023 for Helsinki Metropolitan Area is out

We have published the Travel Time Matrix 2023 for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area

What’s new?

  • Updated travel times for Walking, Cycling, Public Transport and Private Car based on 2023 situation
  • More variation within travel modes (e.g., slow, average and fast walking) to reflect different life realities
  • A new computation framework that allows us to easily produce travel time matrices for other cities

The dataset extends the history of travel time matrices from the region produced by the Digital Geography Lab (since 2016, before that ‘Accessibility Research Group’). This also marks the 10-year anniversary of the first travel time matrix, published in 2013. Matrices were also published in 2015 and 2018.

Read more about the data and download it



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Elias’ Lectio Praecursoria

Measuring sustainable accessibility: geospatial approaches toward integrating people and the environment

Lectio Praecursoria in the public examination of Elias Willberg doctoral dissertation on 2nd June 2023

Photo by Christoph Fink

Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Currently, we are compromising that ability. We have exceeded several planetary boundaries, which mark the safe limits for humanity. We are consuming environmental resources at a rate, which would require several planets to sustain. And we, are still on a path where our environmental burden continues to increase.

At the same time, our social challenges remain persistent. In a world of overconsumption, no country has been able to meet the basic social needs of its citizens at a sustainable level of resource use. Inequalities between people are increasing again and growing environmental stresses, like climate change and biodiversity loss only make it harder to achieve social goals.

What we ultimately want, is to reach that safe and just space in the middle, between the ecological ceiling and social foundation where we don’t consume more than what we have, but where we also leave no one behind. Guaranteeing a good life for everyone, without compromising the planet, represents the ultimate goal for our societies.

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Elias Willberg successfully defended his PhD thesis – Trisalyn Nelson as opponent

Elias Willberg successfully defended his PhD thesis last Friday!

The defence took place on Friday, 2nd June 2023, with Professor Trisalyn Nelson from the University of California, Santa Barbara as the opponent. The defence started with Elias Lectio Praecursoria, and continued with a lively discussion with the opponent about Elias’ thesis

See Elias’ thesis here: ”Measuring sustainable accessibility : geospatial approaches toward integrating people and the environment”. Elias’ work was supervised by Prof Tuuli Toivonen, Prof Henrikki Tenkanen and Prof Age Poom and funded by the Amer Cultural Foundation (Sporttia Stadiin) and EU (URBANAGE and HOPE projects).

On the week before the defence, we had the honour of hosting the opponent, Professor Trisalyn Nelson, at the University of Helsinki. She gave an exciting talk for a broad audience on-site and online, with the title “Crowdsourced Data for Active Transportation Planning“.

The busy days culminated in the cheerful Karonkka party on Saturday evening, with a long and bright summer evening. On Monday, Elias switched to a new life chapter by starting a three-month paternity leave with their small daughter.

Hooray & hugs to Elias! 🥳🤗

Many thanks also to the opponent, Prof Trisalyn Nelson, for visiting us and leading the discussion with academic expertise and curiosity, in a cheerful spirit! 🤗

Continue reading “Elias Willberg successfully defended his PhD thesis – Trisalyn Nelson as opponent”

New study on cyclists’ environmental exposure in Helsinki

Title: Cyclists’ exposure to air pollution, noise, and greenery: a population-level spatial analysis approach

Published in International Journal of Health Geographics

Authors: Elias Willberg, Age Poom, Joose Helle, Tuuli Toivonen

photo by Christoph Fink

New study assesses the healthiness and pleasantness of cycling in Helsinki.

[press release]

Exposure to environmental pollutants, such as particulate matter and noise, can significantly contribute to the prevalence of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. At the same time, pleasant and green environments have shown to reduce the harm of negative exposures and support health through various pathways. Reducing negative exposures and increasing positive ones is recognized as effective ways to promote public health and people’s well-being.

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New study on 15-minute cities and walking accessibility

Title: The 15-minute city for all? – Measuring individual and temporal variations in walking accessibility

Published in Journal of Transport Geography

Authors: Elias Willberg, Christoph Fink, Tuuli Toivonen

© Christoph Fink

The share of walking in cities should increase, but challenges remain. A recent study by the Digital Geography Lab group reveals what effect age, winter conditions and the service network have on the 15-minute city.

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New study on cyclists’ behaviour in Finland

(C) Christoph Fink

Authors: Steve O’Hern (Tampere University), Elias Willberg (University of Helsinki), Christoph Fink (University of Helsinki), Sergio Useche (University of Valencia)


    • We have published a new study on cyclists’ behaviour in Finland in the journal Safety together with researchers from Tampere University and the University of Valencia
    • Using a survey, we aimed at understanding the behaviour and attitudes of bicycle riders in Finland.
    • Our results show that Finnish bicycle riders report low errors and violations, and high levels of knowledge regarding traffic rules, which is consistent with previous similar studies from other countries.
    • Most participants also report low levels of aggression, which is generally dealt with in constructive ways,
    • Anger was most commonly reported a result of interactions with motor vehicles and less with other road users such as pedestrians,
    • The results point to a need for further separation between bicycle riders and motorised vehicles. Furthermore, we recommend to encourage positive behaviour and train risk perception among those engaging in risky behaviors.

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Geography of sustainable and healthy lifestyles: Highlights from the Annual Meeting of Finnish Geographers 2021

Authors: Vuokko Heikinheimo, Elias Willberg, Petteri Muukkonen

The Annual Meeting of Finnish Geographers organized by the University of Oulu took place (remotely) on 4.-5.11.2021.The “Geography days 2021” provided an opportunity to learn what others are doing and hopefully also to find new contacts and future collaborators despite the remote setting. Here are some highlights from the meeting!

There are several ongoing research projects related to sustainable and healthy lifestyles at various universities and research institutes in Finland. So, we decided to call together a session regarding the topic. As a good basis for the discussions, prof. Tuuli Toivonen gave an insightful keynote on the role of mobile Big Data in geographical research and showcased findings from ongoing and past projects at the Digital Geography Lab, University of Helsinki. 

Photo: Christoph Fink

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New open access book out! Transport in Human Scale Cities

We have published a new open access book Transport in Human Scale Cities, which deals with sustainable urban transport

Sustainable urban transport is one of the biggest challenges facing cities worldwide. This means carbon neutrality, but also taking better into account the needs of people and their preferences and needs.  The new book deals exactly with that.

The new book offers fresh perspectives for both practitioners and researchers how to make cities and the transport in them more human-scale in order to meet the demands of the current sustainability crisis and the COVID19 pandemic.

The book provides multidisciplinary perspectives for the development of urban and transport planning processes with a human-scale approach, considering new data and methods and recognizing the diversity of needs of people. We hope that it brings new perspectives to all interested in urban transport. Continue reading “New open access book out! Transport in Human Scale Cities”